Sunday, October 18, 2009

Guide to Questionnaire making

Writing a good questionnaire. (Which hopefully wont leave your customers feeling irritated and confused.)

Questionnaires and other types of surveys are at times a burden on many people and they often don't like to participate in the blank filling process, its boring and its time consuming.But there is a way around this problem.
Design the questionnaire in such a way that it doesn't take up too much time, and also that it doesn't end up annoying the customer. following are the steps to writing up a good questionnaire:

  1. Write a short questionnaire

Limit it as much as possible, don't go into unnecessary details, explanations and stuff which would irritate the customer. Focus on what feedback you want to get, which would be useful for the company, don't go around asking stuff just for the fun of it or stuff which wont get you anywhere.

2. Use simple words

DO NOT use jargon, that is a big No No. Your not asking your employees or the authorized personnel about stuff so don't go about using technical terms. Further it would do you much good if you stick with plain English rather than using elaborate words, the customer wont like that at all, and you will just confuse them.

3. Assure a common understanding

Make sure the questions you ask are interpreted by everyone in the same manner, make sure you don't use abbreviations which may not be quite popular or used by everyone.

4. Start with interesting questions

Now, you don't want to bore them right at the start, so be sure that you've got interesting questions which customers would love to answer. For example, if your surveying the market for ice creams you might want to start it of by asking what your favorite flavor?, which new flavor would you like to have?, stuff like that.

5. Don't write leading questions

Don't go on asking questions that ask for too much detail, that will just made the questionee skip that question as no one wants to waste their time in writing a paragraph about why you like blueberry ice cream so much.

6. Avoid double negatives

Respondents can easily be confused deciphering the meaning of a question that uses two negative words.

7. Balance rating scales

If your questionnaire includes ratings like very good and poor make sure you go to both extremes and same with numbers as well. Make sure its balanced, like on a scale of 5 or 10.

8. Do Not include too many choices for a question

Keep the options limited, don't give a lot of options or you will end up confusing the person.

9. Avoid difficult recall questions

Avoid asking questions that would deal with a previous experience as the customer may not remember exact details and end up giving false feedback.

10. Put your questions in a logic order

The order in which you ask the questions matters a lot, you don't want the customer pondering on a specific issue and then you bring him back to some totally different issue. That would just end up in making it difficult for the customer to answer correctly.

11. Pre-test your survey

Try testing the survey on your peers, ask them for feedback, or any problems they might have had while answering the questionnaire. This should also give you an idea about what kind of answers you might get.

12. Naming your survey

This is extremely important with e-mail surveys, having the subject named survey is just gonna give you a straight trip to the trash bin, instead try alternative and catchy subjects.
Here are examples of survey names that might be successful in getting attention:
Memo From the Chief Executive Officer
Evaluation of Services of the Benefits Office
Your Opinion About Financial Services
Free T-shirt
Win a Trip to Paris
Please Respond By Friday
Free Subscription
Win a notebook computer

Keep these tips, well not tips..... Guide, yea guide to questionnaire making and hopefully you will be successful in making a good survey which will get you what you need.


aqsa said...

We all know that the shortest, simplest questionnaire are the most interesting. Point #4 for me is really important. having filled out so many questionnaires i find many lack a catchy opening question.
Point # 7
The scale should even tell whether #1 is the best or the least.

M. Umer Toor said...

"plain English" is just what is going to work for business and other professional alike. however, to learn how to write in plain English (yes, evidence repetively shows we need to tame ourselves), i'd recommend "The Guide to Plain English" (Oxford books) for business students especially (of course excluding those studying philosophy, literature, etc.).

Questions which are the most important tool in writing articles, business case studies can be 'from very general to very specific'.