A disturbing number of companies seem to have the same misconception: that getting customer feedback is a right, and responding to it is a favor.

I'm not sure where this idea comes from. Here in the USA we have a lot of rights spelled out for us. Free speech, the pursuit of happiness…but nowhere do I see it written that your customers should be thankful that they can give you feedback.

Your customers are the ones bringing you revenue. They're doing this in exchange for a product or service. When they give you feedback, they are going above and beyond what is required of them to use your product or services.

When your customers give you feedback, they are doing you a favor. Respect that favor by making it easy to do so.

Earlier this year I went up to Portland to attend the Community Leadership Summit. I stayed at Hotel Fifty. I was fairly happy with my stay there, and so when I got the following email, I thought: “I love seeing a company ask for feedback! Sure, I'll do you a favor and give you some feedback. I want you to succeed.”

email from hotel fifty thanking me for staying and asking me to fill out a

When I clicked through, this is the survey I got:

extremely long survey from hotel fifty

Great grandmother's spatula! They actually expect guests to fill this out? I'd be irritated if my own mother asked me to fill out a survey this long.

Hotel Fifty seems to think that they deserve my feedback, to the point that they gave me a survey that will take a half an hour to complete. They certainly “exceeded my expectations”. I'm starting to wonder if “Customer Loyalty Survey” is implying that I am supposed to be loyal to them.

Hotel Fifty betrayed my good will towards them by acting like they deserved my feedback. Be grateful for customer feedback and make it as painless as possible for them to provide it, or you'll turn good will bad.

We'll be posting some data next week about how you can lower the barrier to entry for giving feedback. In the meantime, at the very least, refrain from sending anyone a survey as big as the one above. Seriously.

Have your own survey horror story? Leave it in the comments!