Wondering what types of survey questions to ask customers?
There are several reasons why survey questions are important to marketing research. They can:
- Give your business a good idea about who your target market is
- Supply a clear answer of how well your branding is working
- Help to grow sales by boosting foot and online traffic.
Keeon Yazdani, Chief Marketing Officer WE R CBD, supplies some other advantages.
“Surveys are extremely important to market research,” Yazdani writes. “That’s because they allow a business to receive feedback on how consumers feel about their products and customer service. Product feedback gathered from customer surveys can help a business make the adjustments needed to improve their products.”
This article will cover the different survey question types and when to use each. It will also cover what you’ll need to avoid when putting together survey questions. Finally, the last section will supply answers to the most frequently asked questions. Getting this right is important for keeping customers happy and developing good products and services.
The Importance of Good Survey Questions
- Uncovering Authentic Feedback: Clear and unbiased questions facilitate genuine responses, providing businesses with valuable, unfiltered insights into customers’ perceptions and experiences.
- Guiding Business Strategies: Data-driven decision-making hinges on reliable data. Well-thought-out questions yield the quality responses necessary for forming sound, strategic business decisions.
- Enhancing Customer Experience: By asking the right questions, companies demonstrate that they value their customers’ voice, fostering positive relationships and loyalty. This feedback loop can identify areas for improvement in customer service.
- Reducing Survey Fatigue: Concise, relevant, and easy-to-understand questions respect the respondent’s time and cognitive load, reducing drop-out rates and enhancing the quality of the responses collected.
- Improving Product and Service Development: Specific, targeted questions can reveal nuanced insights into customer needs and preferences, guiding the development or enhancement of products and services that resonate with the market.
Types of Survey Questions
So what types of survey questions should you use? There’s a few things you’ll need to consider here including coming up with a diverse set of questions. It’s important to keep them different and to not ask two things at once. Take some time with the questions so they are neutral and not leading.
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In the end, the survey question types depend on the time frame, goals and audience of your survey.
“Keep question text concise,” writes Nicole R Rodriguez, Director at Interdependence Public Relations . “Get to the point and don’t use a lot of words to make your point or explain directions. Keep answer lists short to reduce the bias of long lists that don’t fit on the screen.
1. Open-Ended Survey Questions
Open-ended questions are common. These allow respondents to answer in a free forum way. These don’t rely on stats and there are no set response options. They are open and subjective survey questions . The type of answer here leaves the door open for more questions.
In a nutshell, open-ended questions leave room for wider answer options. These can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. They involve questions like: “What do you like most about working for your manager?”Or, a question like “How do you determine your company’s needs? This works for sales teams .
When to Use Open-Ended Questions
These question types are most effective when you know how to use them. Here’s a few examples of when to use these questions for survey purposes.
They work well when you first begin surveying. A new company or startup needs to learn about customer needs. The open ended answer options help you to improve customer satisfaction. These types of questions also shine a light on where you need to improve.
Survey questions like this have a down side.
- They take more effort to answer. Remember there are no set answer choices and no scale questions. The answer options here require more thought. Respondents tend to shy away from these for that reason.
- The answers you get back take longer to analyze than the multiple choice variety.
Morgan Molnar ,Director of Product Marketing, SurveyMonkey Market Research Solutions, offered a few other examples.
2. Screening Questions
“When you need to reach a specific target audience with your survey,screening questions are your best friend,” she writes. “Most survey platforms allow you to add disqualification logic to kick out people who aren’t relevant for your survey.
A good example is :
- “Can you tell me about your experience?”
When to Use Screening Questions
“They are always at the very beginning of your market research survey,” Molnar says.
3. Firmographic Questions
“When doing B2B research, you’ll want to include firmographic questions to understand things like job title, job level, department, company size, or industry of your respondents,” Molnar says.
4. Close-Ended Survey Questions
There are other types of survey questions to consider. Closed-ended questions are a simpler option to use . These involve more defined answer options. The type of answer found here is often multiple choice. However, they can involve:
- Rating scale questions. It’s best to include a few positive and a few negative options. These are pretty much multiple choice questions. A common example would ask respondents to choose on a rating scale from one to ten.
- Nominal questions. These are good for graphs because there’s only a few answer choices. An example of this type of question might be: What is your favorite browser? This has a number of multiple choice options like Google, Safari or Chrome.
One of these might be:
- Did you find our service useful?
When to Use Closed- Ended Survey Questions
These are good at the beginning of surveys. They are easy to answer and motivate people to go through the rest of the survey. These are good when you’re looking for stats to create graphs.
5. The Rating Scale Survey Question
Rating scale questions have a numerical value. A good example are questions that ask you to rate customer service from 1 to 10. These are great for uncovering trends. Getting people to answer questions such as these improves engagement.
When to Use The Rating Scale Survey Question
The Net Promoter Score is important. It’s a customer satisfaction and loyalty tool that’s based on these types of scale questions and answers.
6. A Likert Scale Survey Question
There are different scales available here. They range from four point all the way up to seven point and above.These give you the ability to find out what people are thinking about your goods and services
These are used to gauge how respondents feel. The often ask if they disagree or agree with comments. These scales can ask whether someone “Strongly disagrees, Disagrees, Agrees, or Strongly agrees” with a statement. And they add the numerical values.
When to Use Likert Survey Questions
This is a good survey to use when you’re looking for popular opinion. You can also use them to gauge a respondents beliefs and attitudes. These are important metrics when you’re looking to tweak your goods and services.
7. Multiple Choice Survey Questions
Scot Chrisman, CEO at The Media House explains why he likes to use these questions.
“Multiple choice questions are the most common type of question we use. This is because they give us a definite answer, which makes them easier to analyze.”
There are single answer and multiple answers choices. For example :
- What is your favorite salad dressing ? You get several choices but respondents only check off one.
- What salad dressing do you like ? This question type allows respondents to provide several answers.
When to Use Multiple Choice Survey Questions
These questions are another good way to find out how customers like what you’ve got to sell. The single answer questions help define a net promoter score. This is a way that you can gauge how well you are engaging your target audience.
8. Picture Choice Survey Questions
These survey questions have been called the visual version of multiple choice. Respondents here can pick from two or more images. A question might be something like the following example :
“What type face do you prefer?”
You can usually either upload an image offered or copy and paste a url from your device.
When to Use Picture Choice Surveys Questions
These are engaging and fun at the same time. This survey format works well when your respondents are diverse.
9. Slider Survey Questions
You can let people respond on a sliding scale with these. The bonus here is answering the questions is fun. It makes it easier to put the answers together in an aggregate too.
Here’s an example: How would you rate our software’s usefulness on a scale of 1 to 10?”
When to Use Slider Survey Questions
These are the way to go when you’re looking to gauge customer opinions on an individual and group level.
10. Demographic Survey Questions
Putting together any questions in a survey template has a goal. That’s to find out about your target market. The respondents are the people you want to sell to. The demographic survey question is designed to tell you who they are.
What is you age? Is a common example that’s followed up with several boxes to check. You can also ask another question about gender and one about race.
When to Use This Question Type
It’s best to be clear how you’re using the information before you get respondents to answer these. This type of question type is good for breaking down your target market too.
11. Matrix Survey Questions
This question type involves putting the Likert and rating scale questions together. Here’s an example of how these work for a computer company.
The left side has a question list with topics like ” Ease of learning” and “Quality of technical support ” stacked on top of each other. Respondents can check off boxes ranging from “Very Good” all the way down to “Poor”
When to Use The Matrix Question Survey
These are great for large scale surveys. At the same time, they can be a little confusing for mobile devices.
12. Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions
Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds , explains how these mix and match different types
“A customer satisfaction survey is best with multiple choice questions in the main part. A final section for respondents to provide any further information works too .”
That open-ended question at the end supplies good personal information.
When to Use The Customer Satisfaction Question Survey
These are good before you launch a new product. Using this question template tells you what needs to be tweaked with the old one.
13. The Yes or No Survey Question
This type is all about simplicity. A common question is about a company’s service. This example is one that you’ve seen before.
“Did you find what you’re looking for?”
When to Use This Type of Question
These are good when you’re trying to figure out why sales are low. Asking respondents to explain themselves in a follow-up question works.
14. The Dropdown Question
These questions let your respondents click on the menu and select through the choices that drop-down.. When you’ve got a lot of choices, using these menus can give your respondents some perspective.
When to Use Dropdown Question
These are basically multiple-choice questions when you’ve got a lot of answers you want respondents to choose from. When respondents have different choices, the list doesn’t look overwhelming.
A good example might be asking someone their age. Letting them choose from different categories like 18 to 24, 25 to 30 and so on breaks the choices down.
15. After Purchase Questions
You can drill deep into this one and ask a bunch of different things. However, two questions generally get the job done.
- Why did you buy the items in your cart?
- What other products should we offer?
When to Use The After Purchase Question
These are excellent for small businesses looking to tweak their inventory. They offer an excellent chance to connect with buying customers and your target market.
16. The Trial User Survey Question
Like the name suggests, these are designed to get trial users to sign up. Some of the questions include: What stopped you from signing up today? Another example might be: ” What might convince you to sign up right now?”
When to Use The Trial User Question Survey
These are useful at the end of any trial period you’re offering. Small businesses use these to try and convince trial users to stay on and by the subscription or product.
17. The Benchmark Survey Question
These compare your answers to similar surveys from other companies. You’ll need to do a little research here. Making up questions means taking a look at some of the other surveys that were done on the same subject. Or, you can use a service like SurveyMonkey. They have a set of these questions ready to go that you can plug in.
When to Use The Benchmark Survey Question
These are an excellent way to compare results from survey to survey. It’s a great way to get some cross referenced data. The benchmark survey question allows you to narrow down the accuracy of your results by comparing them..
Types of Survey Questions Summary
|Question Type||Characteristics||Best Used When...|
|Open-Ended||No set response options, requires more thought, answers are diverse and subjective.||Starting surveys, especially for new companies seeking to understand customer needs or areas of improvement. Answers require more analysis.|
|Screening||Used to qualify participants, often have disqualification logic.||Targeting a specific audience or starting a market research survey. They ensure the respondents are relevant to the survey context.|
|Firmographic||B2B-focused, gathers data on job title, department, company size, industry, etc.||Conducting B2B research to understand the demographics of professionals and businesses.|
|Closed-Ended||Defined answer options, easy to analyze, includes multiple-choice, rating scales, and nominal questions.||Beginning of surveys for quick responses, or when seeking quantitative data for easy analysis and graph creation.|
|Rating Scale||Numerical value answers, typically used to rate services or experiences.||Uncovering trends, gauging satisfaction levels, and improving customer engagement. Often used in Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys.|
|Likert Scale||Measures agreement or disagreement with a series of statements, has several points ranging from positive to negative.||Measuring attitudes or reactions, often used for detailed feedback on products or services. Helps in understanding popular opinion or beliefs.|
|Multiple Choice||Offers respondents specific responses to choose from, can be single or multiple answers.||Quick, quantifiable insights. Good for determining preferences and making decisions based on popular choice. Useful for NPS.|
|Picture Choice||Visual version of multiple choice, respondents select from images.||Making surveys more engaging, particularly effective when targeting a diverse audience. Useful where visual representation impacts the decision.|
|Slider||Respondents use a slider to indicate their response on a scale.||Making answering more interactive and fun, good for individual and group opinions. Useful for immediate visual feedback and tends to encourage more participation.|
|Demographic||Collects personal information such as age, gender, income, etc.||Understanding who the respondents are, segmenting market, personalizing future communication. Should be used with clear privacy and use statements.|
|Matrix||Combination of Likert and rating scales, multiple questions assessed together.||Conducting comprehensive surveys, especially for more in-depth feedback. Not mobile-friendly, better for desktop users.|
|Customer Satisfaction||Mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions focusing on customer experience.||Pre-launch product testing, continuous service improvement, or when seeking both quantitative and qualitative feedback. Final open-ended question can provide deeper insights.|
|Yes or No||Simplest form, straightforward responses.||Quick insights, particularly when followed up with open-ended questions for more detail. Useful for identifying issues affecting sales or customer satisfaction.|
|Dropdown||List of options that respondents can select from a menu, helps in avoiding long visible lists.||Surveys with extensive possible answers, simplifies the visual aspect for respondents. Ideal for categories like age ranges, geographic locations, etc.|
|After Purchase||Direct questions about recent purchases, motivations, and additional needs.||Immediate post-purchase feedback, understanding customer motivation, and improving or diversifying product offerings.|
|Trial User||Targets users in a trial period with the goal of conversion to full-time customers.||End of trial periods, seeking to understand hesitations or barriers to full subscription or purchase. Provides insights into how to convert trial users into paying customers.|
|Benchmark||Compares data with industry standards or previous surveys, requires access to external data for comparison.||Understanding standing relative to competitors or industry norms. Requires specific research or survey services that can provide comparative data. Ideal for cross-referencing and ensuring accuracy and relevancy of survey responses.|
Things to Avoid When Writing Survey Questions
The idea behind writing survey questions is to get accurate answers and good data that you can use. Knowing what to avoid can be just as useful as understanding the best practices. The list below will give you some of the more common mistakes.
Using Too Many Questions
Yaniv Masjedi is the CMO at Nextiva. He stresses it’s best to keep things short.
“Don’t ask too many questions,” he writes. “If you ask lots of questions, then readers will become overwhelmed and click away. Just ask a few core questions that you need answers to, otherwise you risk learning nothing.”
Using Leading Words
You want respondents to answer any survey question subjectively . Take a look at the ones you’ve put together. Try to see if they try and slant the answer.
Here’s an example. “Do you think our service is excellent?”
That’s one question that qualifies due to one word. It’s obvious the company thinks their service is excellent and would be happy if you did too. Neutral words and sentences are best. Make sure to leave the questions open ended like:
“How would you rate our services?”
Will Ward, CEO of Assistive Listening HQ , adds survey questions loaded with assumptions . He supplies the example of “How long and informative was the product video?”
“This assumes the product video was ‘long’,” he writes. “This is purely subjective and also implies that long = informative. Instead, companies can opt for more neutral questions such as”Was the product video useful and informative?”
Using More Than One Author
Survey questions need to have the same tone and style. Respondents tune out when the writing style changes.
Michael Janov, partner at Azurite Consulting explains why:
“One tone and style through the survey is important,” He writes. “Multiple authors brings a major chance of multiple styles and languages . It may seem useful to change the style of writing questions . However, that can cause a lack of interest to continue.”
The solution to keep respondents engaged is simple. Use one writer but ask for input from the whole team.
Asking Private Questions
Grant Aldrich, Founder and CEO of OnlineDegree.com explains why these questions are bad.
“Be careful not to ask for private information. High survey open rates coupled with low submission rates is a clear indicator you are asking overly private questions.”
Make sure to stay away from questions such as: “Do you suffer from anxiety?”
The idea is top make sure you don’t include a question for survey purposes that makes respondents feel vulnerable.
“Survey respondents do not want to send this type of information through third parties, or even directly to you,” Aldrich says.
Asking Double-Barreled Questions
Zach Reece from Colony Roofers, LLC explains.
“This is one of the easiest ways to get misleading survey responses,” he writes. “For example, ‘How is our customer service and our response time?”
Reece worked a Deloitte for a time where he prepared survey question templates. He has some other suggestions about the kind of question that works best.
Adding Too Many Survey Question Choices
“Dont include too many choices,” he says. “Four, five at most is all you need.”
Any more and respondents might lose focus and not finish the survey. This applies to ones like multiple choice.
Bias in the Survey Questions
Erik Rivera, CEO of ThriveTalk explains.
” A frequently asked question regarding surveys is how to avoid bias in answers,* he writes. “Randomizing answer order and question order is a good way to help avoid this.”
Mix up the order of the question types. Make sure to ask questions the move from general to specific.
Jargon in the Survey Questions
Scot J. Chrisman is the CEO at the Media House . He suggests simple language.
“Avoid using jargon your audience will not understand,” he writes “That will only lead to inaccurate results. This is because the tendency is to answer the questions according to how they understand them.”
He adds that jargon can confuse people . A team that questions survey results can follow.
Morgan Molnar supplies another trap to avoid.
“Don’t use words like “always,” “all,” “every,” “ever,” “never,” etc. in your question text,” she says.
Frequently Asked Questions about Survey Questions
You need to question your survey choices. Understanding what kind of questions you’re going to ask is the beginning. After that, you need to get down to the meat and potatoes and actually put together the words Here’s a few common things people ask about.
What if I’m not sure about a question ?
“If you have a doubt about whether or not a question should be included in a survey, it’s best to remove it,” writes Grant Aldrich, Founder and CEO of OnlineDegree.com.
“Another option is making questions optional. As a final fallback, create a second survey which includes the question in question, split testing your surveys to optimize.”
How long should my survey be?
Corina Burri, Senior Marketing Manager explains:
Don’t conduct surveys that are too long,” she writes. “Concentration spans of customers are short. Get straight to the point.”
Scroll down here to find some useful information
Now that I know the types of questions, what should I ask?
What you ask in your surveys is highly dependent on your goals. Understanding your target market is one of the first steps to getting this right. Getting your survey questions right will help focus your marketing and product development. If you’re a startup, a good survey can even help you define who you are selling to. Here’s some of the questions you’ll want to ask with an example for each.
- How did you hear about our goods and services? This is the first example because it’s a very common question. It can help you understand what is working in your marketing toolbox.
- How would you rate our customer service? Showing you take this aspect seriously boosts customer loyalty. It’s a good check on how motivated your employees are.
- What is it you like about the goods and services we sell? This is a good way to get personal feedback from your target market. It’s a good example of a method to engage your customers
- Are there changes you would like to see in our products or services? This is another example of going directly to the source to get feedback.You can follow up here by asking what changes your clients would like to see.
- Are you aware of the other products that we have for sale? This is an example of pitching products. It’s another great way of tracking what is working and what isn’t with marketing.
You can have as many or as little questions as you like. However, you don’t want to weigh your clients down with too many. Including somewhere between 10 and 30 questions is the sweet spot according to many experts.
What tool should I use to create my survey?
There are a number of solid platforms you can use to create, distribute, collect, and analyze your surveys. These are some top choices when putting together effective survey questions.
Jacob Sapochnick is an immigration attorney, and social media influencer . He likes the way you can tailor questions.
“This is a website that allows you to conduct surveys online,” he writes. ” You can set your respondents depending on what your research needs. For me, this is a great help because if your surveys get lost, it has an online backup.”
Another example of why this tool is popular comes from Aldrich:
“A main benefit to SurveyMonkey is that it tracks IPs.,” he writes. “You’ll register unique submissions, adding a layer of security to prevent spam attacks by competitors.”
Get expertly written questions . Choose to track respondents through email and from mobile apps.
This tool has several advantages over the competition. It offers more than 25 different types of questions. It also mobilizes each survey so you can get an answer from respondents on any device. There are 250 templates to choose from. It also translates into over 70 different languages.
Use this tool for international survey needs. It works with North American requirements too. However the translation feature separates it from the competition when you’re doing business overseas
Survey respondents don’t always need to be prospects. SurveyGizmo allows you to ask questions that help with workflow at your business through your employees. They offer good integration tools and a free trial. A good example of enterprise software you can use in different ways.
A survey is a useful tool for several different reasons. It can help you decide what’s working with marketing and what needs to be tweaked. These are a great way to improve client services. They can even help you add or subtract inventory with the data you’ll get.
Putting together a good survey takes a little time. Getting input from your marketing team and employees will provide excellent results. Keep in mind there are lots of little tricks that you learn along the way. For example, making most of the answers optional is important.
Not all of the people reading the survey will know how to answer a question. Others will feel uncomfortable with some of the things you might be asking. It’s a good idea to make sure they can skip over some questions and continue to answer others.
Surveys are an excellent way for small businesses to gather data. With the numbers they get, they can make important business decisions about marketing, products and how to go forward.
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