Designing a Survey
In the 1st part of this blog series, Survey Design part 1, we shared the process of determining how to define your goal and the outcome you are hoping to achieve for business improvement. Once that goal is defined, you can delve into how to attain it through the appropriate questions. Designing a survey that works!
Firstly, brainstorm all of the possible questions that you believe will give you the outcome you’re looking for. The more the merrier! After you’ve gathered a healthy amount, cancel out those questions that don’t pertain to your specific goal.
Secondly, make sure your survey is as short and concise as possible while still gathering the data you need to improve.
Lastly, work to create clear, understandable questions with the appropriate scales and answer options. Below are some suggestions for fine tuning your questions.
Do Not Use Leading Questions – Designing a Survey
It’s no surprise that we all want to hear we’re an “excellent employer” or that our products are the “#1 best around!” However, it’s important to choose questions that aren’t designed to lead clients to the “correct” or preferred answers.
Let’s look at an employee satisfaction question. It’s not a good idea to state a question as such:
“Do you work at ABC company because of our comprehensive benefits package?”
The wording of this question leads the respondent to believe that ABC company has a comprehensive benefits package when, in fact, they may not. This will provide you with inaccurate results and in-actionable data. Consider asking an open-ended question like: “Why do you work at ABC company?” Another option would be to provide a list of common reasons they work for ABC company as well as an “other” box for answers you have not considered.
Take care to take your bias out of your questions – Designing a Survey
A bias question presents itself in favor of or against something. An example of a biased survey questions is:
“Our product works best, which product do you believe is second best?” This question states the company’s product as best, regardless of the participant’s views, automatically negating the accuracy of the question.
Use an Appropriate Scale
Surveys can utilize different types of helpful scales (agreement, satisfaction, excellence) for answers, but offering respondents the wrong options can completely negate the validity your data.
An example of inappropriate scale might look like this:
“Are you satisfied with your widget? Please answer with: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, Unacceptable”
What’s wrong with this? An excellence scale was used inappropriately. A yes-or-no question was asked, and respondents are now expected to use an excellence scale to respond.
Must-answer and Opt-outs
It can be easy to assume that we’ve included all the possible responses to a question, but in reality, the answer choices are endless. If you’re using a list of possible answers, make sure you include an “other” option or allow the respondent to not answer the question by using N/A (not applicable). Forcing a respondent to answer inaccurately can corrupt your data.
Keep An Eye on Length
It’s so easy to keep adding questions — trust me, I know!
No matter how many questions you want to ask, It’s important to stick to your goal and keep the survey as concise as possible. The number one reason for this is to be courteous of the respondents’ time. Their schedules are as valuable as yours, and you want to take as little of their time as possible. There’s also “survey fatigue,” confusion, and the distraction of wondering when the survey will end. It’s a good idea to have an accurate status bar on the survey so respondents know approximately how much time they have left.
And speaking of length — don’t try to hide several questions within one question! Question 1 a, 1 b, 1 c is not one question — it’s 3.
Stay tuned for our next blog….Designing a Survey part 3.