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Mandatory Responses in Customer Experience Surveys: Impact on Response Rates and Data Quality

This article examines the effects of mandatory responses on the efficiency and accuracy of customer experience surveys.


This article delves into the implications of mandatory responses within customer experience surveys, particularly within the realm of IT service development. While these surveys serve as critical tools for assessing user satisfaction and guiding service enhancements, the enforcement of mandatory responses can inadvertently compromise both response rates and data quality. Therefore, this article summarizes scientific research on the effects of mandatory responses on survey outcomes.

Reactance, Topic Sensitivity, and Participant Behavior:

Forced responses, or the insistence on participants to answer all survey questions, can induce reactance—a psychological phenomenon characterized by resistance to perceived constraints on autonomy. This resistance often results in elevated survey dropout rates and compromised data reliability, as respondents may furnish insincere or random responses.

Reactance underscores the importance of upholding respondent autonomy and eschewing coercive survey methods. Survey designers must also factor in the sensitivity of survey topics, as inquiries into personal or sensitive domains can exacerbate reactance and prompt premature survey abandonment or dishonest responses (Décieux et al., 2015).

The sensitivity of survey topics significantly shapes participant behavior and response quality. Queries into personal or sensitive subjects are more likely to elicit discomfort and prompt respondents to either abandon the survey or furnish inaccurate responses. To address these challenges, survey designers should prioritize respondent comfort and mitigate the potential for reactance-inducing questions.

Impact of Mandatory Responses:

Décieux and colleagues (2015) examined the repercussions of mandatory responses on a customer experience survey conducted by an IT service provider. The study found that mandatory responses correlated with higher survey dropout rates and lower data quality compared to voluntary responses.

The imposition of mandatory response requirements in online surveys led to increased dropout rates, particularly when participants were explicitly reminded of the obligation to answer all questions. This suggests that compelling respondents to answer every question can dissuade participation and prompt survey abandonment.

Furthermore, the enforcement of mandatory responses was associated with diminished data quality, evidenced by an increased incidence of response fabrication. Participants were more inclined to provide insincere responses when coerced to answer, especially to inquiries of a highly personal or sensitive nature.

Offering a "prefer not to answer" option served to mitigate the adverse effects of mandatory response requirements by reducing dropout rates and curbing the inclination towards providing fabricated responses. This alternative presents a viable compromise between data collection imperatives and respondent autonomy.


Ultimately, customer experience surveys should prioritize voluntary participation and respect respondent autonomy to elicit genuine and meaningful feedback. By doing so, survey administrators can enhance the reliability and utility of survey data, facilitating more informed decision-making and improved service delivery within the IT industry.


Décieux, J. P., Mergener, A., Neufang, K., & Sischka, P. (2015). Implementation of the forced answering option within online surveys. Journal of Modern Research in Psychology, 2(1), 318-325.