Now that you’ve decided what you want to learn from your survey, it’s time to create the actual survey. Before you get into the creation, there’s one simple tip to keep in mind: Keep it respondent-centric.
To encourage engagement, your respondents need to feel invested in the decision-making process, and the outcome of the survey. Prospective and current clients should feel that their feedback will be used to improve a service or product, as this will provide you with better quality responses.
Once you’ve put that concept front and center, it’s time to focus on the key elements of survey creation:
It’s a fact – people get bored quickly. The average survey-taker answers around four to five questions per minute, and you’re going to lose their attention at 8-12 minutes. The industry sweet spot is a seven minute survey, so it’s best to aim for 30-35 questions. This will give you the opportunity to elicit in-depth data from your respondents, without losing their focus.
Make sure each question has the appropriate format for answers, in order to give you the best data available. If you want to find out the top three items people buy in your store, ask a multiple choice question, and if you want to find out how important store hours are for customers, use a scaled answer system. Another common type of question is the open ended question, which can be seen as a catch-all, to ensure respondents are able to give all the feedback they want. While this is a good way to make sure you haven’t missed a key issue your respondents care about, it’s best to use open-ended questions judiciously. Make sure you’ve fully explored all of the questions necessary to gather data to solve your business issue, and then consider any open ended questions you’d like to include, as a bonus.
Scaled responses help you determine how much your customers actually care about something, like your product packaging. Asking a yes/no question doesn’t let them fully answer the question. Use a 5 or 7 point scale to gather more in-depth information – if you’re taking the time to create a survey you should get the best data possible! When labeling your scale use specifics such as: Extremely important, somewhat important, neither important nor not important, etc. Once you get their response on the scale, you can move them toward an actionable question, such as what hour would be best for the store to open. And be careful when labeling these scaled responses. Merely putting numbers on the scale doesn’t accurately gather the data at hand, because a four could mean different things to different respondents.
It’s alright to address multiple topics in one survey; they just need to be ordered properly. If one question’s answer may influence another, you need to make sure it comes later in the survey. For example, if you ask respondents what is the most pressing issue facing the country, and then ask how the president is doing, respondents will be primed to consider how the president is doing on the issue they outlined prior. Providing a cohesive flow and cadence to your questions guides the respondent through your survey, and may help keep their attention during the process.
The key to a good survey questionnaire is less about the number of topics and questions, and more about the order of the content, and how respondents will interpret the survey. Creating a quality questionnaire may take time to thoroughly craft, but it will be worth it, as you’ll collect better data that will directly impact changes you make to your business.
Now that you’ve mastered creating your survey, it’s time to investigate how you properly survey your sample of respondents to ensure the data is statistically significant! Until next week…