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what survey mistakes should one avoid while
creating surveys?

Market research 04 12
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Surveys can help you gain insight from your clients and customers about your brand, product, services, etc. You may have decided the purpose of your survey, and the questions suitable to serve the purpose. However, the questions you ask determine whether it is a bad survey or a good one. 

Survey Questions are the path you create to hear the honest opinion of the customers without any bias. Your survey questions should not make the respondents feel nervous or forced. They should be able to answer what they actually believe and share their opinion openly. 

To design proper survey questions refer to the list to understand what common mistakes you should be avoiding.

Mistakes to avoid when designing your Survey1

01

Don’t Skip the Introduction

An introduction is the best way you can encourage the respondents to complete the survey. You not only boost the completion rate but also the engagement between the respondents and the company. 

If you don’t provide reasons as to why you are conducting the survey, the respondents may feel suspicious and also lose motivation. They may find it not worth their time if they cannot understand your purpose. 

Use clear language to inform the respondents of your survey goal. Tell them how you will be using the responses to bring changes in your business. Also, make sure you mention the estimated time it may take for them to complete the survey. 

This way they can set aside some time to fill in your survey without feeling burdened.

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02

Don’t Overload Survey Questions

Asking too many questions can push the respondent to abandon the survey halfway. Moreover, if they are using their mobile phone to fill the survey, they wouldn’t enjoy scrolling page after page for you. 

The longer the survey is, the less likely they are to complete it. You should limit your questions to 25 to 30. Also, organize your questions so that you don’t ask open-ended questions unless absolutely necessary. People don’t enjoy writing answers on their mobile phones. 

Limit the questions and use different types of questions to keep the respondent engaged with the survey.

Mistakes to avoid when designing your Survey2

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03

Don’t Use Leading Questions

Leading questions are other survey questions that may lead to bias or a low response rate. If you design your questions in a way that leads to a one-sided response, respondents as well will favor that side. The respondents may be compelled to answer the question based on the leading word. You will be leading them to believe that a certain response is better than the other. 

You can identify if the question is leading or not by searching for non-neutral words. 

Instead of asking: How “beautiful” is our logo?

Ask them: What do you think of our logo design?

Writing questions with neutral words prevents them from influencing the response and eliminates any possible bias. Avoid using unnecessary words that could affect the respondent’s response.

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04

Don’t use Loaded Questions

Loaded questions imply the type of question that forces the respondent to answer even though it does not reflect their opinion. If the question does not suit the respondent they will skip the questions or drop the survey. 

Instead of asking: Where do you park your car in the company building?

Ask them: Do you own a car? 

For those respondents who use public transport, they won’t be able to answer the question truthfully. To avoid asking such a loaded question, you can ask first if they own a car or not. Then you can use skip logic to show this question to those who own a car.

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05

Don’t give Too Many Choices

Giving too many options in multiple-choice or single-choice questions can confuse the respondent. They will feel frustrated from all the options and lose their focus. This will also decrease the reliability of the questions. Especially in single-choice questions, the respondent will become frustrated if you give them many similar options.

It is better to limit the options you can provide for each multiple-choice or single-choice question. The respondent would not want to spend too much time filling the survey. A website visitor can only stay focused for 30 to 90 seconds on a page. So, it is better to ensure that the time needed to answer the questions should be within 30 and 90 seconds.

06

Don’t use Double-barreled Questions

  • Double-barreled questions are when you use two subjects in a single question. This forces respondents to answer two different questions with one answer. This can lead to skewed results because you won’t get the full picture. 

    For instance, in a question like

    How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with our payment method and our delivery service?

    With such a question, you are forcing the respondent to answer two different questions with a single answer. A respondent may not be satisfied with the delivery service but extremely satisfied with the payment method. But because both subjects asked together, the respondent can’t express their opinion freely. 

    Moreover, you won’t be able to understand what your respondents actually feel about the individual services.

    So, instead, ask separately

    How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with our payment method?

    How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with our delivery service?

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07

Don’t forget “others” and “none of these”

For multiple-choice or single-choice questions you don’t want to miss the options of ‘others’ and ‘none of these. These options prevent the respondents from choosing the option which is inaccurate. If you don’t provide these options in the question, respondents will be forced to choose an option against their opinion. 

When asking sensitive or personal questions you can also provide the option of ‘choose not to answer. This way you are giving freedom to the respondent, to be honest. 

You can follow up these questions with an open-ended question to gain more insight into their response. 

08

Don’t use Jargons or Slangs

It is better to not assume that your respondents know all the technical terms or modern slang used nowadays. Your survey questions irrespective of the target audience should use clear and familiar words. Don’t use unfamiliar terms, acronyms, or technical jargon because these may confuse some respondents. 

If you need to use such terms, make sure you provide a definition of the term. This will help the respondents understand the question better. Also, they will become familiar with the jargon and willingly complete the survey.

09

Use Distinctive Options

When you are asking your customers/clients/employees questions to understand their experience with your company, you can confuse them with options. They should not have to feel frustrated because their options are not properly designed. 

Especially, when you are using ranges, they should be mutually exclusive. You cannot overlap the range.

For instance, for the question: “How many years have you been working with us?”

Instead of: 

  • 2 years or less
  • 2 to 3
  • 3 to 6
  • 6 to 8

Use option like

  • 2 years or less
  • 3 to 5
  • 6 to 8
  • 8 or more

09

FAQs

Misleading questions skew the respondents in a certain direction. Such questions make the survey biased because it encourages the respondent to answer in favor of the leading word. 

Misleading questions make it difficult for the respondent to answer honestly.

The length of a survey needs to be short in order to complete it within 5 minutes or less. For this reason, the number of questions in the survey should range between 10 and 20, depending on the survey goal.

You should keep the survey open for three weeks at most, especially online surveys. This way the respondents have enough time to complete the survey without feeling rushed. Also, they can access it whenever they want and this can increase the completion rate of the survey.

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