Can I Have a Moment of Your Time?” Overcoming Survey Burn Out by Showing Value

Burning matches

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If youve ever gone grocery shopping, eaten fast food, or shopped at a major retailer, youve heard these words spoken by a cashier at some point. In the age of big data, seemingly no venue is immune from solicitations to take a survey of some sort, be it online or in-person.

With this oversaturation of survey propositions, the question for the consumer then becomes: whats the value of actually completing this survey is it really worth my time? And as evaluators faced with this situation, in which our potential survey respondents are already feeling burnt out (and even more so if theyre part of an over-researched community) the question is vexing but simple how do we get them to complete our surveys?

A case needs to be made that their sacrifice of time is ultimately worthwhile, and that it will be taken seriously to improve important programs and services.

Like any sales proposition, a value statement needs to be made. This can either happen explicitly, through some type of incentive, or implicitly through the knowledge that responding to the survey contributes to the greater good of an organization and its mission (which may or may not directly benefit the respondent). The main difference is that instead of declaring the value of a product, you are declaring the value of your respondents time. There isnt one right answer for how to accomplish this value statement to get a response; its probably a combination of explicit and implicit appeals.

In addition to some familiar survey basics that show potential respondents that you value their time (e.g., being HONEST about how long the survey will take), here are two tips that can help you show your surveys value through cause-and-effect patterns:

**Be sure to clearly articulate what the survey is for.** While this may sound obvious, organizations often exclude key details of how the survey is aimed at improving things.

Lets face it, This survey will be used to find ways to improve outreach, isnt compelling or clear. On the other hand, This survey will help us see if our television campaign messages are effective in making people aware of our services to help your community, may not be super exciting, but it provides a much clearer picture of the value of a potential respondents time as it pertains to your organization, and possibly the greater good, too.

Whenever people can see a clear line from cause to effect in how their opinion and experience will contribute to a positive change, the value of their time is immediately more apparent.

**Remember that your organization has a story to tell.** Whether its improving educational outcomes, helping seniors obtain medical care, or helping recovering addicts stay sober, you have a compelling story waiting to be told. Cause and effect patterns are story drivers, and perhaps also the most underutilized component of survey recruitment.

A survey has the potential to make the public a critical part of the story, as long as you afford them the opportunity to make that connection. Why not allow your respondents to make your survey their good deed for the day?

Inciter specializes in telling stories like these for organizations large and small. Drop us a line if you need help breaking through the burn out and getting the most out of your survey implementation!

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