We've all been on the receiving end of far too many poorly constructed surveys that required too much time and energy simply to share our thoughts.

Recently, my favorite local brewery failed to retain my interest during its 20-page saga of a survey. Even though the subject was interesting (beer), I lost my interest when I realized my time was not being taken into consideration.

Here's a top twelve list of how to conduct surveys without losing contact with your customer.

1. Define the survey's purpose

Figure out exactly what you want your customers to tell you. For instance, you may want to find out whether they are satisfied with your service. So ask them. Do not gather any extra data if you aren't sure exactly what you are going to do with the results.

2. Keep it short and sweet

It shouldn't take a respondent more than 10 minutes to complete a questionnaire. Make it five or even two minutes or less, if you can manage. Also, keep survey respondents in the loop along the way by telling them up front how long the survey might take, including a progress bar and, maybe, even naming the survey something relative to how long it will take.

Time is a top complaint among people who have taken surveys, so address the objection immediately and move past it.

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Brian Henderson oversees internal and external marketing for Prezza Technologies (www.prezzatech.com). He has held senior-level marketing positions with Perseus Development, Equallogic, and EMC.