How Customer Feedback Surveys increase Competitiveness1

5 Expert survey writing tips for your customer feedback survey


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A Survey Software can provide you all helpful tools to build a responsive and interactive Survey. However, you have the responsibility to make sure that your respondents understand the questions so that you receive accurate answers.

Wording survey questions impacts how respondents interpret and then offer you their responses. It is a major concern because you have to follow several factors to ensure that the intention of the question is properly expressed to the respondents. You want all of the respondents to interpret the meaning of the question in the same way to get a valid result.

Here are some of the important factors you need to consider when writing survey questions.

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Respondents should Not Misinterpret the questions

The words of the questions should be clear and specific to what you are intending to ask. You need to guarantee that the respondent does not get confused or misinterpret the question. 

For example, if you want to know their employment status, do you want to know whether they work or not? Or, do you want to know if they are an Intern, Part-time, Contractual, Full-timer, or Retired?

  • For open-ended questions, respondents should know that they can use their words for the answer and what type of response they need to provide. For close-ended questions, the options pallet should not overlap and the list should not be exhaustive. 

The biggest mistake you can make is by assuming that all respondents are educated enough to understand your questions. You should consider the education level and word survey questions so that it is easy to interpret. 

You should avoid using unfamiliar jargon or abbreviations

 If you must use jargon or abbreviation provide the full form or meaning of it along with the question. Explaining the term can prevent confusion, for example, NATO,i.e., North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Not everyone will know what it stands for. Also, make sure to ask one question at a time.

Avoid double-barreled questions

Questions that ask respondents to evaluate two different concepts. The respondents will find them difficult to answer. Also, the responses you receive may even confuse you. For example, “How satisfied are you with the product category and our tech service?”

User Experience

The question should Not Lead the respondents

Look through your survey questions to see if you have used any word that leads the respondents to a specific answer. 

For example, “Like most of our customers do you like our ‘free meal for homeless’ initiative?” 

Questions such as these tell the respondents what kind of response you are expecting from them. The respondents feel pressured to answer a certain way. Such questions may also be too direct and the respondents may feel threatened. If the respondent answers with a ‘no’ it will imply that they don’t support the good cause of feeding the homeless. 

Or, Do you believe free health check-ups are important?

The logical answer to this would be “yes”. And, the question leads the respondent to this answer. If your respondents experience stress while answering a question you should reconsider the format of the survey question.

The Survey Questions should not be intrusive or personal

While you may think of it as a casual question your respondents may not be comfortable sharing the information with you. It takes a few words to change the question from impersonal to intrusive in private life. Respondents are more likely to drop out of the survey if questions are sensitive. 

Respondents may not be willing to answer questions about age, gender, education level, income, marital status, etc. These topics may make respondents feel embarrassed or they may simply not want to share this information with a stranger. You can ask such questions at the end of the survey so that the rest of the survey is not ruined. Give them the option to skip these questions. 

Also, make sure that you word questions in a way that is appropriate and does not expect too much information from the respondents. 

For example, “Did you have a satisfactory experience with the medical staff during your stay at  the medical facility?” asks the respondent if they are satisfied on a personal level. 

This question is different from the impersonal and detached question “Are the service provided by the caregiver satisfactory or not satisfactory?”

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The questions should not be viewed as Biased

Similar to misinterpretation and leading questions, a survey question can be viewed as biased. The respondents may feel offended or it may also provoke an emotional reaction. Questions are written in a biased manner and also tell the respondents what is the “right” answer that they expect from you. 

  • One of the formats of a survey question that leads to biased response is the “agree-disagree” question

Research has found that respondents who are less educated and less informed will agree with statements. This is called “acquiescence bias” which means they are more likely to acquiesce. 

The best way to avoid such a biased situation is to provide a middle ground as a response option. You can revise the question or add a “neither agree nor disagree” option. 

  • Another format of survey question is the “social desirability bias”. In this type of question, respondents have the tendency to select the answer that is socially accepted. 

For example, What is your stand in the Black Lives Matter movement?

Respondents are likely to agree with the question and avoid answers that are socially unacceptable. Offer a set of less extreme options that let people be honest about their opinion without having to conform with society. 

  • I strongly support/ identify with it
  • I support/ identify with it
  • I don’t want to respond/ Not sure
  • I don’t support/ identify with it

Social desirability bias is caused because people want to be liked and accepted by society. This may lead to them providing accepted answers instead of the response that reflects their true opinion. And, so they may provide an inaccurate answer and you may end up with a skewed result. 

User Experience

Survey Questions should not make assumptions on the respondent’s part

Sometimes  you may not think about how the meaning of the question will appear from the respondent’s perspective. For example, in a customer experience survey, a question asking respondents about their experience with your company’s mobile app assumes that they have used the app. This may confuse the respondents who have not yet used your mobile app. 

For questions like this, it is better to include the survey tool filter. The filter can help you decide which questions should be shown to the respondents. 

For example, if you ask “Have you used our Mobile App?” respondents who select the option “no” will not be shown questions related to the mobile app. 

If you are unclear on how to appropriately word the survey questions you should run a test. Let your colleagues or a small group of customers answer the questions. This way you can figure out which question is causing issues and how to fix them.

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