Marketing Research

The most common survey question mistakes to avoid.

How hard can it be to write a survey? The process might not be complicated, but writing the right type of questions, and using best practices will make your survey better, and give you the answers you need from your customers to accomplish your main objective.

I enjoy the whole process of writing survey questions. I like to imagine the respondents reading the questions and answering them. That helps me to get in the mindset of the customers and see it with different eyes.

There are many Do’s and Don’ts when writing survey questions. You can get the do’s right and avoid the don’ts by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, and imagine you are receiving this survey, and try to review it with fresh eyes. Here are three survey questions Don’ts to avoid that I have found more useful – because they are some of the mistakes, I have found to be more common.

Don’t assume. The customers need you to be as specific as possible.

When crafting your questions try to be as detailed as possible, your customers don’t know exactly what you’re thinking. Let’s say for example you are creating a survey for a restaurant, and you want to know how often the respondents eat at restaurants in a regular month. If you use options like: Never, Occasionally, Sometimes, and Always, you are leaving to interpretation what each of those terms means to the respondents. You can use options like 0, 1 – 3 times, 4 – 6 times, etc. Using the numeric options will help your respondents get in the same mindset as you.

Don’t ask two questions in one. The customers can only answer one question at a time.

These are known as double-barreled questions. Let’s say we are talking about the same survey as the restaurant. If you would ask How satisfied are you with the quality and portions of the food? You are asking about 2 completely different things in one question. You should break them down.

Don’t ask your customers what they don’t know.

As a customer, if I see a question that is asking me something I don’t know how to answer, makes me wonder if the company did the selection process correctly. But it also is very important to avoid asking customers questions beyond their ability to answer will help you to not have answers where the respondents guessed, but they are not giving you accurate information. To avoid this common mistake, start the survey with filter questions to make sure you have the right customers responding to the rest of your survey.

There are many other survey Don’ts to take into consideration, but I chose these three because I have found them to be the most common mistakes I have made or found on surveys. I hope they help you write better surveys to get the right information from your customer and accomplish your objectives.

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