In the first study of its kind, Interaction Metrics examines the customer satisfaction surveys of 51 top US retailers. We found that retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart waste customers’ time—and their own—with critically flawed surveys.

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 survey elements, the surveys scored an average of 43 points out of 100, an F grade.

Other findings include:

  • 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 customer 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.

To get real value from their customer satisfaction surveys, retailers need to strengthen their survey science—and take a creative approach to showing customers they care. 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.

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 between June 23 and July 27, 2016. Download the Study Report. Watch the 2-minute video. Or, request the company data from Interaction Metrics Analyst, Eleanor Parmentier: