open ended que

Open-ended questions

Transform your insight generation process

Use our in-depth online survey guide to create an actionable feedback collection survey process.

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Deciding the type of data you want to collect is an important task in survey/research. Do you want the data to be objective and quantifiable? Or, do you want to gather more in-depth data?

With open-ended questions, you can ask questions to your audience and get interesting and enlightening answers.

A simple closed-ended question about customer experience would give you the data you need. However, converting it open-ended and asking “can you describe how your experience was with <product> in detail. The answers you get will give you a full picture of customers’ feelings, satisfaction, disappointment, expectation, and experience. 

We will discuss more open-ended questions, how it differs from closed-ended questions, and what questions you can ask. 

What are Open-Ended Questions?

When it comes to market research, open-ended questions play an integral part. The survey depends on open and subjective type questions and gives a responder the opportunity to freely write their review or opinion.

An open-ended question allows the audience to respond to the question based on their understanding and experience. Unlike closed-ended questions, the respondents are not provided with a list of options to choose from, nor is it a yes/no type of question. The detailed and elaborate information received from the audience creates room for further discussion and improvement. An open-ended question creates a scope for learning for the researcher as well as for the responder.

This question type allows you to ask “why” and “how” to your audience. This opens a platform for conversation and helps a researcher to understand the thought process of the responder. The answers to these questions vary for every individual. Hence, this gives an array of unique perspectives and a chance for the researcher to probe.

Let’s check out some examples of open-ended questions to understand how to phrase them. 

Example of Open-Ended Question

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Following are some open-ended question examples.

  1. Interview/ Job questions
    1. How are you feeling about this new job?
    2. How are you feeling working with your new team?
    3. Which projects are you proud of?
    4. How can you help grow our organization?
  2. Customer questions
    1. Please explain how your experience was in our store today.
    2. Please comment on how you feel about our customer service?
    3. What would you suggest should we improve in our clothing store?
    4. How can we improve our shopping app for a better experience?
    5. What categories would you like for us to add to our convenience store?
  3. Personal questions
  4. How do you feel about your current situation?
  5. What do you do when you feel stressed or anxious?
  6. How would you define your relationship with your neighbor?
  7. How has your health been lately?

Open-ended questions influence the respondent to share their review and opinion with you. Such question patterns make them feel valued, and they share their feedback without limiting their thoughts.

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When to use Open-ended Questions

An open-ended question is a form of qualitative research. You can ask open-ended questions when you wish to establish a platform for better understanding.

They permit the audience to write what’s on their mind. Hence, it gives you more insight and context. As a result, it helps the researcher collect feedback that can improve the status of the organization, be it a hotel, online store, offline store, or a company. 

The audience can freely express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with you.

  • “What almost stopped you from continuing your purchase?” or,
  • “What did you like the best in our store and why?”

You can conduct a survey in your office to better understand your employees.

  • “Do you have any suggestions to increase our sales value?” or,
  • “In what projects would you like to work on and why?”

How to ask Open-ended Questions 

Creating open-ended questions is neither a difficult nor an easy task. You have to understand what the open-ended questions are. 

Also, establish how they are relevant to your objective and determine the kind of audience who can help you with your purpose. You cannot ask women questions related to men’s health or vice-versa. Asking “did you like our shopping app?” also leaves room for “yes” or “no” as answers without further information.

Here are some ways you can create Open-Ended questions

  • Create a questionnaire before conducting the survey.
    You can create a list of all sorts of questions that you have ever come across. The list can help you create a questionnaire that is meant for your market research survey and can benefit from it.
  • Change any question into an open-ended question

If you find closed-ended questions that can be replaced with open-ended questions, you should revise them. For instance, change the question “did you like our app?” to “What did you like/dislike about our app?”

Follow a close-ended question with an open-ended question. You can always add a “why” or “what” after a close-ended question to start a discussion. For instance, “did you like our customer service?” follow it with “Please elaborate on what you liked about the service.”

Conducting an open-ended question survey should also mean that the researcher is listening to the complaints and praises and taking notes on how to improve the performance of the company.

Transform your insight generation process

Create an actionable feedback collection process.

Characteristics of Open-Ended Question

Before you create surveys or questionnaires it is best to understand the features of open-ended questions. This will help you create a better structure for the questionnaire & also help decide where such questions should be used. 

Free answer:

It gives the audience room to voice what they feel about your service. They are not limited by options, and so they have the liberty to answer in detail. This is also beneficial for the ones asking questions because they can learn about the feeling and views of their audience, which is not the case with close-ended questions.

Detail:

The audience gives a lot of thought before answering an open-ended question because they are allowed to think. They can respond however they want and express their happiness or unhappiness in a thorough description.

Such questions cannot be restricted to yes or no questions, nor to objective questions.

Open-ended questions can help you receive valuable customer feedback that can help you and your company.

Honest customer insight: 

Open-text questions enable your customers to share their perceptions, thoughts, and opinions in words that are true to their feelings. They feel empowered to express themselves in all honesty. Whether it is to complain about a bad service/ product experience or, it is to praise you for excellent service and product experience; respondents can share what’s on their minds. 

The surprise element: 

You may have used the open-ended question to ask for customer feedback or thoughts, however, customers may surprise you by sharing something unexpected. Having the freedom to respond in their own words, respondents may share some ideas or opinions that they think might work well for your company. 

  • They may surprise you with a novel idea that your team may not have thought of.
  • They can also reveal an outsider’s point-of-view which as a part of the company, you may not have noticed. 

Limitations in Open-Ended Questions

With benefits, there must also be some limitations. Learning about the limitations can help you in asking the right question the right way. 

Here are some limitations you need to look into: 

Difficult to analyze: 

Open-ended questions gather qualitative data for you. So, if your intention is to organize data into tables and charts, open-ended questions are not a good option. 

You cannot analyze open-ended questions as easily as closed-ended questions. Each respondent will have different things to say and you will have to sift through each response and code them in order to analyze them. 

The open-text response is hard to analyze and convert into reports. 

Too many questions can harm the response rate: 

Creating a survey with too many open-ended questions can lead to respondents dropping off mid-way. You cannot expect the respondents to read through the questions, sort through their opinions and respond using coherent words. 

The respondents may become frustrated and may not respond honestly. They may provide irrelevant information. When using the open-ended question you have to carefully select the most relevant questions and limit the numbers. 

Gather irrelevant data: 

Respondents are free to use their words to express their opinion. While this brings you qualitative data, it may also bring you irrelevant data. Respondents may go off-track with their responses which will leave you with too much irrelevant information. You may end up gathering data that is of no use to your business. 

What is the difference between Closed-ended and Open-ended Questions?

Open-Ended Questions: Definition, Method and Examples open-ended question
  • Open-ended questions allow respondents the freedom to respond however they wish.

Close-ended questions limit a respondent with a pre-selected range of options to choose answers from. 

  • Open-ended questions require respondents to elaborate their answers. 

Close-ended questions can be answered by selecting an option from a given list. 

  • The data from Open-ended questions are difficult to analyze and interpret. 

Closed-ended questions provide quantitative data which can be analyzed using analytics software. Open-ended questions are used when you want to gain a better understanding of customers or want to gain context behind their behavior, attitude, or perception. Closed-ended questions are used to track changes, identify trends, and show percentages.

Browse through all that Voxco surveys have to offer!

6 Examples of Open-ended Questions

1. How did you find out about our Company?

Open-ended questions allow users to give you proper information on how exactly they found out about you. You may gain new information about where customers are looking for information related to your business. Whether they found out via word-of-mouth or online ad, the information can help you plan your marketing effort. 

2. What’s your opinion about our Customer Service?

Learning about your customer-facing team from the words of customers can help you see how your employees are representing your company to the audience. The response can help you identify any gap in the way your company presents itself and the way you want it to present itself. 

3. What stopped you from making a purchase today?

Open-ended questions like this can help you identify if there is any barrier from your side that is stopping your customers from taking the last step. It can give you information on why they are abandoning their cart and dropping it off. 

The response can highlight any issue that customers might be facing in their purchase journey. You can immediately take action and fix them for the rest of the users. 

4. What did you enjoy about our website?

By using this type of positive question you can engage customers to talk about the positive aspect of your website. Customers may point out the unique factors of your website that attracted them to use your company. It can help you identify your USP and you can leverage it to attract more prospects. 

5. What are your concerns about our Company website?

Customers can be very helpful with their candid responses to highlight what may be the problem with your website. When you cannot identify why prospects are not converting, asking customers about it can bring you valuable insight. 

6. How would you describe your experience with our company?

Every customer experiences a service differently. Such open-ended questions will help you gather diverse perspectives and opinions. You can gather a wide range of insights and use them to understand every kind of customer. 

See how you can conduct cost-effective research with Voxco

Wrapping Up;

It’s always better to start with deciding what kind of data you are looking for. This helps you decide the questions you should be asking the survey takers and will help in a successful survey. 

Use closed-ended questions to ask for facts and open-ended questions to collect details on those facts. If you need more help in deciding how to go about it you can contact us.

FAQs

Some advantages of using open-ended questions in your surveys are:

  • It allows respondents to honestly express their opinion.
  • It helps you gather qualitative and insightful data.
  • The responses can help you gain a deeper understanding of your customers.
  • Customers can openly share their feedback, complaints as well as praise without any limitation.

Open-ended questions encourage respondents to share their perception in detail. It empowers them to express their thoughts and feedback with you.

Closed-ended questions use a set of options which limit a respondent’s answer.  Respondents cannot share their opinion freely.

Example of Open-ended questions:“What do you like about our new range of <product category>?

Questions like this encourage respondents to share their positive experience with the product. This helps you identify what feature or aspect of the product stands apart.

The major disadvantage of open-ended questions is that respondents have to sort through their opinions and then write their response to the question. This may tire or frustrate the respondents and they may leave the survey mid-way.

Open-ended questions require contextual response, thus, it is best used when your aim is to gain deeper understanding of your survey topic. When you need to gather insightful and knowledgeable data, open-ended questions work the best. 

An open-ended question cannot be answered with a simple “Yes/No” answer. 

An open-ended question gives respondents the freedom to answer as they wish. They can respond to the questions without any limitation. 

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Hindol Basu 
GM, Voxco Intelligence

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