Tips to help you compile your questionnaire or survey, keeping it simple.

Sophisticated questionnaires and surveys usually require some professional expertise, but here are some tips to help you compile your questionnaire or survey and keep it simple.

What to include in your survey

Start off with an explanatory paragraph outlining the purpose of this questionnaire or survey and how their input will help your business. Use this space to indicate how long it will take to complete and the due date.

Include an exit or screening question – This question can identify if the responder has no interest or knowledge, if there is potential conflict or bias, or if this questionnaire or survey is not relevant to them.

Ask easier questions first – If there are some questions that are more difficult than others, then mix them up. The easier questions are generally quicker to answer leaving more time for the difficult ones.

Be careful how you ask the questions – be clear and give multiple options but avoid the following:

leading questions that encourage a particular response;
ambiguous questions that can be interpreted in different ways;
multiple questions with a question, i.e. would you prefer and tell me why. Your responders may not realise they need to give multiple answers, therefore you may not receive a consistent answer;
complex questions that include technical terms confusing the responder.
Consider the type of questions you are going to ask:

Open ended questions give the person interviewed a chance to explain how they feel about the product or service you are proposing;
Closed questions invite a yes or no response;
Multiple-choice questions must be carefully designed so that the options given reflect the information that is needed, i.e. ‘would you use this service weekly, monthly, other timeframe, or not at all?’
Rating questions, i.e. ‘how would you rate the quality of this product on a scale of one to five, where 1 is very poor, 2 is poor, 3 is average, 4 is very good and 5 is excellent?’
Don’t make the questionnaire or survey too long – try not to annoy the responder by taking up more of their valuable time than they have been led to believe. Try not to ask questions that are not relevant to the purpose of the questionnaire or survey.

Be careful who you ask – friends and family are great, but they are more likely to give answers that are meant to please rather that an answer that will add value to your products and services. If your questionnaire or survey is about business, then ask only the group of people that matter most to your business – your clients.

What additional information would you like? Take this opportunity to obtain additional, or correct contact details from your customers and clients, or ask for demographics to help determine the characteristics of your target market, i.e. age, gender, income, job type, location etc.

Think about how you will analyse the responses – what will you use and how will you interpret the information? – Entering the responses into a spread sheet will make it easier to understand the frequency, averages, percentages and to show the data in graphs and tables. You could also consider using Pivot tables and Google docs.

For more information and advice about compiling your questionnaire or survey, contact Peptalk on 0792 700 8440, or info@peptalk-uk.com.

About Debbie Pepler