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Making a Case for Surveys; Can We Stop Calling them ‘Boring’?

Clare Zacharias

Last Updated:  

1 July 2019

7 min read

“...killing away people’s time and patience, the accused is a desperate stalker!  Countless witnesses have come up with their accounts of harassments and fraud. He habitually misleads people, lies to them about the time frame involved, and annoys everyone he meets.

It is in the interests of the public that the court may issue a restraining order and forbid the accused from distressing the public anymore.”

The Prosecutor passionately finished, wiping the sweat off his brow. The judge sat interested, having sat through a million cases like this one. He spared a glance at the miserable looking accused fellow, wondering if he can close the case before his grandchild’s school recital. Probably not.

boring surveys should be banned

Do you deny that you are a good-for-nothing fellow with a pathetic excuse for a life?”, the Prosecutor sneered at the desolate old guy.

Judge peered at the forlorn form in the stands and muttered: “You don’t have to answer that.”

The accused, Mr. Survey shook his head and unhurriedly stood up, shaking the dust off his shabby clothes.

I’ll answer that question”, he replied, in a surprisingly steady voice. Turning to the jeering Prosecutor, he asked “You want answers? You want to hear the truth?”

The Prosecutor looked more taken aback than anything. He, nor anyone else in the court was expecting this frail looking guy to speak out. His lips curled at the thought of taking out this pathetic guy as he taunted “I want answers. I want the truth”.

The truth! You can’t handle the truth”, Mr. Survey scoffed, his voice ringing with indignation.

you wan't the truth? you can't handle the truth- if surveys could talk

“Son, do you think this is the first time I am called boring? Accused of harassing unsuspecting folks? Be told that the world is better off without my existence? That any of this is new to me?

Do you think I enjoy being the unpopular guy in the room? I am tired of this bullshit. I am calling this out, and you better listen to me son coz you’ve been asking for it.

I am boring? You think? Well, do you stop to think who made me so? I wish I could be better looking, charming, and useful. But I just don’t wield that sort of power. I am a plain tool and can be made all these things only if my user wishes to.

I am outdated? You want to know how? Can you imagine how infuriating it is to have all the cool features that no one ever turns on? I can be funny. I can be interesting. I can be relevant. I have all these features, but hardly anyone ever takes notice.” he paused.

Mr. Survey truly was at his wit’s end. For years, he’s watched as everyone around him got a digital makeover. Splashier, funnier, livelier tools.  He thought he was finally granted his wish when technology caught up with the times and they updated him with awesome UI and new features.

And yet, he looked the same. He hated to sound so whiny, but the bitterness has been piling up for so long.

“You can’t imagine how sad and lonely it gets. I didn’t ask for this. Here I am, destined to live my life in these shabby clothes because my ‘masters’ don’t reckon I’ll do my job better if I look interesting. Because most of the survey makers cannot bother to use my potential, I am reduced to the dull old guy.” Mr. Survey continued.

transform boring surveys into interesting surveys with cool ui

If only he had a penny for each time someone accused him of being boring, he thought unamused. Sometimes, just for the heck of it, he has wondered what it’d be like to move a petition that bans anyone from ever call him boring. How ironic that he is at the court now, not as the plaintiff but as the accused.

The judge sat up, no longer uninterested. Mr. Survey may be prone to melodrama, and the judge didn’t quite miss out the echo from the iconic court drama of the 90’s ‘A Few Good Men,’ but the man had a point. He was a mere tool (and a decent one at that). And he was very clearly misemployed, thought the judge as he realized that Mr. Survey was only following his orders. And the guy was animatedly telling why he did what he did.

“How can I help it if I am designed carelessly, stuffed with condescending questions and sent out on a mission to badger gullible people…

Don’t want to invest some effort and design a thoughtful survey? Why bother when you can always reinforce the popular misconception, uh? Am I not supposed to be like that anyway? Boring, stupid, and such a waste of time..!!!”

The Prosecutor looked away, abashed. He didn’t want to admit it, but that stung. He had assumed that the case was an easy win, considering the contempt with which everyone held Mr. Survey. Whoever expected this unpopular guy to have a way with words!

“Mr. Survey, you cannot worm your way out of your charges like that. I’ve got witnesses who’ll attest that you’ve been stalking them with your endless questions and reminders. Do you deny that as well?” asked the Prosecutor. He was determined to steer things away from the ‘poor chap’ vibes Mr. Survey was giving off. That simply cannot do.

Mr. Survey looked at the Prosecutor square in his eye and asked, “We live in a world that needs feedback, and that feedback has to be collected. Who’s gonna do it? You?

My existence, while pointless and incomprehensible to you, solve this problem.

I have a greater responsibility than you can fathom. You have the luxury of looking down at the uncool dude who is out to collect feedback that every business so badly needs.  

The world needs me, the businesses need me. I give them answers. Answers that guide the organizations, companies, and employers fix their mistakes. And everyone stands to merit!

I ask questions because someone’s gotta. But do you stop to think that I have no say in what questions I ask? To whom? At what frequency? Damn it, I am a tool. I can only follow what I’ve been told to do. I have no choice of refusing a command. ”

truth about boring surveys if surveys could talk

I take time? Don’t get me started on that. I shouldn’t be wasting anyone’s time if I weren’t put to it. It goes against my very nature to waste time. I, the survey am meant to save plenty of time and gather feedback fast. I get better results when I am short and relevant. But my folks just don’t get it.

Was that I, I who decided to give away a fabulous 16 pence for whoever takes the 30-minute long feedback form…?

I was ridiculed for that. If it were up to me I’d be giving people attractive incentives and thoughtful discounts, you know. Not that pathetic 16 pence that offended anyone who bothered to offer you feedback.

Treat your customers well and they’ll give you great feedback. Treat them poorly, and they’ll stop talking to you… And when they do, don’t blame me”, Mr. Survey added, hoping that everyone was listening.

The Customer Service Manager in the back row looked down, remembering his idea to give away a gift (that no one wanted) in exchange for their feedback. His ears turned red as he thought of the customer who wrote back accusing them of the ‘cheap stunt.’ People are increasingly vocal about their distaste for feedback surveys, and his team was bent on sending out more surveys, more frequently, and reminding them incessantly.  Many things that Mr. Survey said today struck home. No wonder his customer feedback survey emails landed in the spam box and the responses were bleak, he thought. Mr. Survey was onto something here.

“In spite of my weary length and the unflattering appearance, I still manage okay. I am quite good at what I do, or I won’t be around for as long as I’ve been.

I let organizations take a pulse of their employees, understand what needs to be fixed, and confirm that there is healthy work culture. I let companies discover how their customers feel about them and understand the market expectations before they make an investment. I help people find out what went wrong. I alert them of any unusual shifts that they need to know of. I am putting in my best.”

Mr. Survey was certainly tired of the unfair treatment he was meted with. He remembered quite well how proud he was of his calling in the early days. He really believed that he was making a difference until things started going stale and everyone gave up on him.

He continued. “If it were up to me, I wouldn’t go parade before people asking for an evaluation even before they step into the damn store or before they remove the label from their new purchase.

Their opinion is relevant only if they are familiar with a brand or has had some qualifying experience with it. And if I had the means to stop spamming people, believe me, I would have!

I am here to help, not irritate anyone. I only wish that all survey-makers out there would let me do my job with dignity.”

Mr. Survey shuddered thinking of all those times. Just yesterday, he was thrust upon a site asking visitor feedback every 30 seconds at random passers-by. One angry dude had a rather colorful description of what he thought of the website’s abundant broken links and messy layout. He was quite powerless to change things, Mr. Survey thought.

But then it struck him. He was amidst powerful people here! For once in his life, he was being heard. And he wanted to make the moment count.

make surveys interesting again

“Do you think I ever wanted to become this way? Boring, lifeless, and dull…? I am powerless to change things on my own. But you can help”, he pleaded.

“You are powerful in ways I can never be. You can intervene. You can put me to good use. You can demand that I be put to good use. You can design me cleverly so that I will collect precious feedback without bothering anyone.

I’ll finally be able to do what I am meant to do without any fuss. Allow me to, please.

If you have a problem with long, boring, irrelevant, and plain unpopular surveys, then change the way things are done.

That’s it. I rest my case”, Mr. Survey finished.

Clare Zacharias

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow.

A sort of Jill-of-all-trades! Enchanted with storytelling, fascinated with startup life.

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