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Why Surveys During Your Conversion Path Can Cost You Money

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By now you know I have a habit of associating every day annoyances with topics on conversion. I just can’t help myself. The world is filled with annoyances and Twitter and blogging has taught me to be more observant of my surroundings. Of course, being a blogger for over 10 years now has trained me to always be thinking about blog topics and not to worry about how much of a curmudgeon my words make me out to be. I really am a positive, happy person!

Today’s example is an interesting one as it’s an unintentional annoyance, not a result of inadequacies or malice. In our office complex, we have a cleaning person named Mr. Lee, who is so good at his job that when I use the bathroom, it is eat-off-the-floor spotless 100% of the time. This man truly is a genius. So why could I possibly have a problem with this? Well, the annoyance comes from the paper towel dispenser.

You see, Mr. Lee is so attentive in his job that the paper towel dispenser is always stocked. But it isn’t simply stocked with enough paper towels for my needs. It’s stuffed so tight with paper towels that it’s difficult to pull out a clean sheet. Let me be clear: this isn’t simply a tight fit. This is the type of frustration you have when you are trying to use toilet paper and only one square breaks off at a time. Yes, it’s true: being too attentive and eager CAN create annoyance.

This also happens with marketers too eager to make a sale or to make a better user experience. It seems like every day I am surfing an e-commerce site (I’m an e-shopaholic if you didn’t know) and up pops a Customer Survey window asking for feedback of my experience. The screen tends to look like this:

This is how eagerness to optimize an experience causes friction and costs you conversions. I understand the desire to make the best experience possible for the visitors of your store, and while I see the value of the results, the problem lies in the timing of it. What would you do if you walked into a new store because you were interested in something you saw through the window, and when you walked in you were immediately confronted by an employe that said, “What do you think of this store? After you leave, I’m going to stop you and ask what you think.” Sounds silly right? Yet that’s exactly the message these popups send— adding friction in an attempt to be the best experience for you.

When I enter the bathroom, I am immediately struck by how clean it is. But every time, when I walk out, my opinion is worse because of the frustration of the paper towels. You may be thinking, “Big deal. Just hit the ‘No Thanks’ button and be done with it.” But in the game of conversion, momentum is important. People are searching and comparing and researching all the time. If you start someone down a path to buy, do not do anything to get in the way.

Let’s imagine another example with that same store. Imagine you see something in the window and it shows the price right next to it. You know you want it and all you need to do is get to the register and pay for it. Imagine you walk in the store, grab the item off the table and march towards the back of the store where the registers are. You see something on a display off to the side and are headed that way to grab it to buy, too. Then a woman stops you and says, “What do you think of this store? After you leave, I’m going to stop you and ask what you think.”

What do you think will happen?

Most likely you will forget to pick up the extra item (lost upsell). You may also decide to leave before buying because you don’t want to deal with survey woman (lost sale). Maybe you make your purchase and beeline out of there (bad experience). Then there’s the remaining possibility: you answer the survey. I guarantee it won’t be as glowing as it could be.

I feel I need to make a statement here about surveys. They are incredibly valuable and can provide you with insight into how well-designed your site is. Surveys can be an effective tool when associated with incentive for honesty and a respect for the relationship. It CAN be successful when speaking to paid customers in a separate communication. Just be smart about it! Don’t create friction points in the path to the registers.

Do you have a success story where you have gained knowledge about your customers using a survey AND have seen increased conversions? Tell us your story in the comments!

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