The other day I received an email from Blockbuster asking me to take a survey. See if you can tell me what is missing from this email:

Your opinions and feedback can make a difference!

As a valued customer of BLOCKBUSTER, your input will have a direct impact on how we continue to improve our service to meet your entertainment needs. Please take a moment out of your busy day to share your thoughts with us in an important research survey that we are sponsoring. This survey will take only a few minutes.

When you are ready to start, please click here: [url provided]

Please note that your responses in accordance with this research project will never be reported individually, only in aggregate. You will not be identified in any of the findings or reports pertaining to this project. In addition, no one will try to sell you anything as a result of your participation. BLOCKBUSTER Online is only interested in your thoughts and opinions regarding our service.

We truly appreciate your feedback and thanks in advance for participating in this survey.

Your friends at BLOCKBUSTER Online

Did you notice what was missing? They don't answer the question, What's in it for me? That's the first thing I looked for.

Oh sure, there is a line in there about how this will help them "meet your entertainment needs" but that's not very, ah, interesting. What's my time worth to them? Apparently not much.

Despite my misgivings I decided to donate "a few minutes" of my time for free. I soon found out the lie in the statement.

Take a look at the progress indicator below:


At this point I'm about twelve questions into the survey. After spending at least three minutes answering questions, realizing that I was less than 25% finished did not sit well with me. Now normally a progress indicator is smart. But in this case it's all wrong (I'll explain why later.) Want to venture a guess as to what I did next?

I left.

I'm not adverse to donating some time to answer questions, especially if it will help them provide me a better service. But the questions were not even about how they could do that. By and large they just wanted to get a feel for their position in the marketplace and understand how their service has effected my movie watching habits. Not exactly the "customer service" type questions.

Saying that this will only take "a few minutes" of my time is the understatement of the year. As I write this post I went back to answer some more questions and it took me about five minutes to get to 25% complete. These are by no means easy-to-answer questions. Check out these two:

Blockbuster Question

Blockbuster Question

Good grief! I'm all for being thorough, but this is ridiculous. To add to that, there was no way to go backward to fix an improperly answered question. My numbers on the question immediately above didn't match the number I provided in the previous question (not pictured) so instead of allowing me to fix the previous question I'm forced to make my second answer line up with the first. Argh!

And what do I get out of all this? Satisfaction that this will help Blockbuster meet my entertainment needs.

Sorry, no thank you.

How could Blockbuster have encouraged me to get to the end? A couple of ways.

  1. Tell me how many questions there are in total, how many I've answered, and how many are left. Percentages don't do much especially when it barely moves from one question to the next.
  2. There should be a 20 question limit. If you want to ask more, let me get to the end of the survey and ask me if I'd like to continue with some "refining questions"
  3. Make the questions shorter with fewer response options. Each question takes 20-30 seconds to answer, if not more. That's just too much time to invest.
  4. Give me something for my time. Let me know that a printable coupon for a free in-store movie rental awaits me. My time has got to be worth at least that.
  5. I would say that last one is the most important, but it's not. Just the most immediate. That should have been the enticement to take the quiz and the encouragement to plod through and finish it. All of the points above, however are important to getting adequate and proper feedback.

    Blockbuster still has much to learn in providing customer satisfaction. Maybe, like their online rental service, they'll get it right the second time around.

    Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

    August 27, 2007

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.

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Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Lessons From Blockbuster: Money For Nothin', and the Survey's For Free