Saqui Research

The #1 Way to Keep Respondents from Leaving Your Survey

This week’s Fix-It Friday may seem too simple and easily avoidable.  Unfortunately, I see this mistake more often than you would think.

Drum roll….The #1 way to keep respondents from leaving your survey is…

don’t ask them to leave.

Too simple, right?  An example may help show you why this problem arises.

PROBLEM: This week’s Fix-It survey asked business owners about various trends in their workforce practices.  In order to classify the respondents, the survey developer wanted to know the NAICS code of the business.



Many business owners do not have their NAICS codes memorized.  The survey developer appeared to realize this may be a possibility because he gave the website address for the respondents to use to look up their NAICS code.

Unfortunately, in his attempt to be helpful, he also increased the likelihood that the respondents would get frustrated with having to go to another website and therefore quit the survey OR respondents would leave the survey to go to the NAICS website, get frustrated there, and not return to the survey.

Only a dedicated and/or interested survey respondent would actually do this work when there is no incentive involved.  (Remember: No one cares about your survey as much as you.)

SOLUTION: Here are some possible solutions.

  1. Warn the respondents ahead of time this information will be required to complete the survey.  Stating this upfront allows the respondents time to gather the information needed and/or not get frustrated when this question arises.
  2. Provide a way for the respondents to look up the NAICS code without leaving the survey.  Some survey tools allow respondents to click on a link or icon that brings up a box containing additional information and does not require them to leave the page at all.
  3. Find a different way to categorize respondents that would not require as much effort on their part and is more intuitive.
  4. Give a checklist of the actual category names (e.g., Manufacturing) rather than asking for the numerical codes.

Want to see your survey question get a makeover?  Send it to or fill out our contact form.  We will do more than just make it look pretty; we will make it right.


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Ursula Saqui is an academic and psychotherapist turned entrepreneur. Works with individuals and organizations that are willing, curious, and brave enough to intensely focus and work on their brand, customers, and competitive advantage. When she is not working, she is spending time with her family, reading, playing soccer, or eating steak. Connect with Ursula via , Twitter, LinkedIn, or on Facebook.