Why to not respond to a feedback survey?

Closing the feedback loop motivates your customers to respond to your future surveys. The worst thing after putting effort in giving feedback is total silence.
Marja Leena Pinomaa

Despite being a customer experience professional, I must admit that I don’t always respond to the customer feedback surveys I am invited to. I feel somewhat schizoid when preaching about the importance of getting feedback from the customers, but at the same time not walking my talk. Actually, I really try to respond, but still don’t succeed even at a satisfactory level. Why is that? I think there are several reasons. Let’s talk about a few of those.

Survey fatigue

There are just too many feedback requests coming both in my work life as well as in my personal life through various channels like emails, text messages, phone interviews – and sometimes still even on paper.

Typically, invitations state that “it takes only a few minutes of your time to respond”.  Well, sometimes that is true, but especially if there are several open-ended questions, and I start to think of any more valuable feedback, answering might take much more than just those few minutes. Also, when there are many survey requests, you might suddenly realize that it would take tens of minutes to respond to all those. Is it then worth spending all that time in responding?

The most annoying survey type for me is getting several text messages for the same survey: First, I get one text message asking for one question (typically a rating one). Once I have responded to it, another message follows with an open-ended question about my reasoning. I want to respond to all questions at once.

Right questions to right respondents

The relevance of the questions from a respondent’s viewpoint is critical. The survey questions should address things that have had the biggest impact on MY experience. The questionnaire should not be too long, with a great number of questions. One question should address only one thing. When designing a question, one should also think whether it gives any actionable insights.

In transactional surveys, respondents are typically those who have had an experience and hence should be able to give feedback. In relationship surveys, especially in the B2B environment, this is harder to achieve. That is because different customer contacts have different kind of interactions with a company, with different kind of frequencies. If the one and same questionnaire is used for all of them, you might get more “don’t know” responses. Or the responses can be based on rumours and experiences of other people.

The higher in the organization a respondent is, the less good news he typically hears. Hence his feedback might be impacted only by the bad news. One of my colleagues established a practice to actively walk through also the good news with the customers. He also got his customer contacts to spread those within their organization.


Right timing

If you get a feedback request several days or even a week after the interaction/experience, are you still willing to respond? I’m not. I might not even remember any more how my experience was – unless it was great or very bad.

There are also some recommendations on the best weekdays and timings for sending a survey request: you should avoid sending a survey on either a Monday, Friday, or near a holiday. Send a survey either just before people get started with their day in the morning or around 2 p.m. in the afternoon, after they have finished their morning-to-do list and had some lunch. Try to avoid especially weekends and weird hours of the day.

An equally bad experience is to get a survey request too early. For example, if you are asked to give feedback on a delivery before anything has been delivered to you.

Willingness to recommend

The Net Promoter Score® (NPS) is a popular metric for customer experience. Therefore, you run into it in almost all surveys nowadays.

I personally have a hard time recommending – especially based on one short interaction. To get a recommendation, my expectations need to be clearly exceeded, which doesn’t happen so often. This makes me a typical passive customer in NPS lingo.

With the NPS question, it is important to find out why a person is – or is not – willing to recommend. However, quite often the respondents are not willing to state this. Is it because of the formulation of the follow-up question? Or is it just about their unwillingness to write any reasoning?

A good practice is to formulate the open-ended question differently, depending on the given rating. From the detractors (i.e. ratings 0 – 6), you should ask what was missing or disappointing in their experience. From the passives (7 – 8), you ought to find out how their experience could still be improved. From the promoters (9 – 10), it is best to ask what they like or value the most. I think that a similar approach would work also with other questions, such as customer satisfaction (CSAT), even if I haven’t seen it used so much.

Closing the feedback loop

Have you ever been contacted in any way after giving feedback? Do you know whether the feedback was used somehow or whether it changed anything? As a customer, my answer to both questions is usually “no”.

In the B2B environment, it would be easier to connect the dots between the feedback and improvements made based on the feedback, if the relationship is more of a long-term nature and the people at the customer and the supplier side remain the same. Typically, it is more about the willingness to make an effort to improve at the supplier’s side.

In the B2C environment – and especially in transactional surveys – the volume of respondents is often so big, that this kind of personal follow-up is not possible. However, I’d love to get a summary of the feedback and related actions taken by a service provider after some time – even if it is not specifically about my own feedback.

The key is to show that the feedback is valued and used. If you are not going to make any improvements based on the feedback, don’t even ask for any. If you do make improvements, tell about those to your customers and employees. This motivates your customers to respond to your future surveys. The worst thing after putting effort in giving feedback is total silence.


Marja Leena Pinomaa is a customer experience and quality professional with more than 30 years of experience in IT services in various positions. She believes that listening to the customers, reacting to their feedback and closing the loop helps not just to find problems, but more importantly, to find out what we are doing right so we can do more of that. Marja Leena is also one of the CXPA Finland Ambassadors.


Closing the feedback loop motivates your customers to respond to your future surveys. The worst thing after putting effort in giving feedback is total silence.
– Marja Leena Pinomaa



Ian Golding will be leading the CX Masterclass training on May 7th and 8th. Ian’s last visit to Finland was in 2019, but this year it has been expanded into a two-day event with more insights than ever before. Get your tickets soon at www.cxmasterclass.fi. We look forward to meeting you there.

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