Study: Top Retailers Waste Time with Flawed Surveys

It seems that we’re asked to take a customer satisfaction survey with nearly every purchase. But do you ever wonder…do they really care what I have to say?

Our 2016 Customer Listening Study, the first of its kind, evaluated the customer satisfaction surveys of 51 top US retailers. The main finding: retailers like Lowe’s and Wal-Mart waste customers’ time—and their own—with critically flawed surveys. No company was completely scientific in its approach; nor did any company fully connect with customers in a thoughtful, compelling way.


Retailers issue millions of customer satisfaction surveys each day, raising the question of whether these surveys are worth the paper they’re written on.

The top two problems: retailers collect inaccurate data, and they fail to show active customer listening. Based on an objective evaluation of 15 elements, the surveys scored 43 out of 100 points, an F grade.

We also found that:

  • With 23 questions on average, the surveys were excessively long.
  • 32% of all questions lead customers to give answers that companies want to hear.
  • 7-Eleven had the best survey—it was 13 questions, none of which were leading or used biased wording.
  • Family Dollar had the worst survey—it had 69 questions, 29 of which were leading.
  • Nordstrom, the retailer most known for customer service, stated its survey would take 2 minutes—but with 25 questions, it took 4-5 minutes.

This study highlights how easy it is to produce a flawed survey. The findings should be considered by any company with a customer listening program.

If retailers want to get more value from their customer satisfaction surveys, they should apply a scientific methodology, and be sure to connect with customers to show they’re listening.

The retailers selected for the 2016 Customer Listening Study were the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) top retailers, omitting supermarkets and membership stores. Surveys were collected from June 23 to July 27, 2016. Download the Study Report, or watch the short video.

Have a question about the Customer Listening Study, or want to learn about designing an intelligent customer satisfaction survey? Drop us a line.

About Interaction Metrics

Interaction Metrics is a customer experience agency that maximizes the value of experience planning, satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping, customer interviews, and customer service evaluations.  Only Interaction Metrics Findings Reports combine actionable customer experience metrics with specific recommendations for how to improve.