Surveys are a common customer research technique used by organisations and market research companies to find out customer opinions about a product or service. Of course, there are certain ways to write a survey to motivate the respondent to reply and stimulate their memory. The type of questions included in the survey and the order in which they flow will affect the survey responses. For example, survey questions should be short, straightforward and written in plain English – the simpler, the better.
Read on to discover the 10 keys to writing survey questions that ensure accurate, relevant and complete survey responses.
1. Keep your survey short
Keep your survey as short as possible. Clearly define what is most important, what is useful to know and what is irrelevant. Retain the former, keep what is useful to a minimum and cut out the rest.
2. Use simple language
Survey respondents may have a variety of backgrounds so use simple language to cater to different intellect, nationalities, age and background, to name a few. Use common, informal language and grammar that is familiar to survey respondents and avoid jargon.
3. Ensure a common understanding
Include survey questions that will be commonly understood and never assume everyone has a similar understanding of the facts. Include details and additional information when necessary, and identify abbreviations.
4. A logical order
It is best to ask a general question and follow it with a more specific question, as the issues raised in one question can influence how people respond to subsequent questions. Group survey questions on similar topics.
5. Easy survey questions first
The easier questions should come early in the survey to make it more enjoyable for recipients and increase the likelihood they will complete it.
6. Difficult and sensitive questions last
On the other hand, survey questions that may be construed as sensitive or challenging such as income, personal hygiene and religious beliefs should be placed close to the end. If these questions are inserted at the start, respondents may be put off early. However, if they make it through to the end they are more likely to finish.
7. Ask about one thing at a time
Never ask about two things at one time. These are referred to as double-barrelled questions. For example, if your survey question is ‘Rate your satisfaction with the service and accommodation during your stay’, respondents are asked about both service AND accommodation and the results can be ambiguous. Break this into two short questions.
8. Use short questions
As you increase the length of your survey questions, you decrease the chance of receiving a completed response.
9. Use closed-ended questions over open-ended questions
Survey questions with a fixed response are referred to as closed-ended questions. These can be useful as survey respondents can see the purpose of the question and are limited to a set of choices. They are easier to analyse, allow a quicker turnaround, are more reliable and prone to less researcher bias.
An open-ended question asks for a written response. For example ‘If you did not enjoy the movie, please explain why’. When there are too many open-ended questions in a survey, the quality and attention span of the respondents is reduced.
10. Avoid emotional language
Avoid inflammatory and emotional language. Words such as misinformed, neglected, demand, one-sided and overreact can cause bias.
If you need to conduct a customer survey, use these tips to ensure the best results. Do you have a wide range of survey participants? At Farron Research we provide market research recruitment services for organisations conducting surveys, focus groups and other market research initiatives. Contact Farron Research Recruitment today for our market research recruitment services, to ensure the most relevant results from your customer survey.