User Surveys on the Web

Look me in the eye
Then tell me that I’m satisfied
Hey, are you satisfied?
— The Replacements, “Unsatisfied”

What is a reasonable target for user satisfaction with a web site?

We did a user satisfaction survey last year and found that 14 percent of respondents felt that our web site didn’t measure up to their expectations.

This year, we have an incentive goal of reducing that number to 8 percent, not based on evidence that any web site has ever achieved a number that low, but based on the opinion of the company that did the survey that anything over a 10 percent dissatisfaction rating is always bad.

Or to flip it around, we’re trying to achieve a 92 percent approval rating.

I wish we hadn’t set the bar quite that high. I don’t want to be a pessimist but not only is that considerably higher than, say, Google (at 78 percent — and what’s not to like about Google?), it’s also higher than Santa Claus, crack cocaine and oral sex . . .


  8 comments for “User Surveys on the Web

  1. MS
    29 Jan 2009 at 1:19 am

    Google’s score went from 78 in 2007 up to 86 in 2008…we want to go from 86 to 92. I’m not very good at math, so feel free to correct any of my calculations, but that doesn’t appear to be an unreachable goal. Amazon was at 88 in 2007…and I seem to remember someone bringing up Amazon as the benchmark in nearly every web development meeting I’ve been in over the last year. Who was that guy? Hmm…

    And again, I’m not great at math, but isn’t a 14 percent rate of dissatisfaction one out of every seven people? Not even looking at benchmarks for Google or any other customer satisfaction rating, that still looks pretty bleak. Multiplying makes it even worse…think about standing in a room for a week with 8000 people, wearing a shirt that says “I work here, feel free to complain about our website”, and over 1000 of those people have something to complain about.

    Unfortunately, this is a reality for some of us, and I would prefer to set the bar closer to a 1% rate of dissatisfaction, and I would hope to achieve that goal as well. I am in the position of having to listen politely to those complaints and trying to do something about them, and I feel strongly that 80 people in that room complaining to me is a lot more tolerable than 1120. I’d still suffer miserably if it were 640 people at the goal of 8 percent.

    PS. You’re not necessarily a pessimist, but your perspective is much different than mine. When you do face-to-face customer service with those 1120 people, I suspect your perspective will change considerably, especially considering that you are in the position of being able to influence changes in the area of website satisfaction.

  2. PE
    29 Jan 2009 at 9:13 am

    Hi MS –

    I am totally with you. (When do you sleep, btw?) I’d like to get to zero percent dissatisfaction. Let’s call that a stretch goal. I’m just a little squeamish about putting 8 percent in an incentive plan because

    1. As you point out, even the best web sites in the world are not achieving that.

    2. If your target audience tends to skew older rather than younger, you have to expect some lack of comfort and fluency with web technology.

    3. There’s a certain threshold of people who don’t like anything.

    For example, I used to work with a guy named Don Lee. I met his wife at a company party. Her name was Sara. Sara Lee. I didn’t like her. Go figure…

  3. MS
    29 Jan 2009 at 10:04 am

    I sleep when I can. However, I didn’t say the best web sites in the world are not achieving that…I simply quoted the figures for two specific sites that you refer(red) to in your post and everyday life.

    I assume that you feel these are two of the best web sites in the world…I don’t necessarily feel that way about either of those sites, although I love Google’s search engine because of it’s simplicity as viewed from the user’s perspective, which in this case is my perspective.

    I muddled around in the early days of the World Wide Web searches like Gopher, Archie and Jughead…because of those experiences, I truly appreciate Google more than the average bear, I would say.

    As for number two, I agree with you, however I don’t see the relevance to this discussion. If the site functions properly and is user friendly, and people can find what they need and do what they need to do, they’ll rate it with higher satisfaction than if they are unable to do those things, regardless of comfort level and fluency.

    Again for number three, I agree as well. I still think we should set high goals…even if we don’t achieve them, if we come close, we might still put ourselves in a better place than if we set the goals lower and reach them. Strive for perfection, don’t settle for adequate.

    And nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee…

  4. PE
    29 Jan 2009 at 10:50 am


    Just to be clear about it, I’m talking about what makes sense as an incentive plan goal.

    Since we work for a professional organization, a good goal might be for 100 percent of the people working in the profession to become members. We’re striving for perfection, right?

    It just wouldn’t make sense to put that in an incentive plan and commit to reducing your financial compensation if it doesn’t happen.

    And I don’t even care about the money…I just object to doing things that don’t make sense.

  5. MS
    29 Jan 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I think we can reach that goal though, and you don’t. I object to doing things that don’t make sense too, but what makes sense to you might be different than what makes sense to someone else. That’s why there are teams who discuss and decide these things, and it’s good to have input from everyone whether they all agree or not.

    I personally think if one in every seven people think our website sucks, we need to improve that significantly. That’s why it makes sense to me as an “incentive” goal. It’s not reducing your financial compensation either…it’s allowing you an opportunity to increase your financial compensation.

  6. PE
    30 Jan 2009 at 12:34 am

    I don’t know if we can reach it or not, although I’m pretty sure we can’t reach it by June 30. It doesn’t affect what I do though. Even if we had 100% membership and 100% approval rating on the web site, I’d still be trying to improve it.

    You like the Replacements, btw? I added an mp3 file to the post…

  7. MS
    30 Jan 2009 at 12:43 pm

    If you had seen out site before the revamp, and know what it used to be and how bad it was, you might be surprised that we got only a 14% rate of dissatisfaction. I would have guessed it was closer to 40% a few years ago.

    Replacements are fine…a little slow for my taste, but if they are the “When it Began” guys, I do like that song.

  8. s
    30 Jan 2009 at 1:21 pm

    i forget when the survey was conducted, was it b4 or after may? i know there was one before may, and if that was the one that got 14%, well then maybe we can at least get to 10% with the new one. i wouldn’t bet on it though.

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