A survey can provide significant value, but to get the most out of it you need to carefully consider what type of questions you use.
Your questions will vary depending on your goals of the survey and the insights you are hoping to gain.
Surveys can be used to gain insight on how to improve your products or service, employee satisfaction or public opinion on a community issue.
A common question type is a multiple choice. This can be used to determine a demographic, product or service usage, and consumer priorities.
With multiple-choice, you can opt to allow survey participants to make single or multiple answer selections.
Multiple choice questions are easy for respondents to fill out and provide clear data that is easy to break down and analyse.
When giving multiple-choice questions you should always give the option for people to select ‘I don’t know’ or ‘none of the above’, if they prefer not to give an answer or the question does not apply to them, as this will reduce the chances of receiving inaccurate data.
An example of a multiple-choice question:
What is most important to you during a shopping experience?
- Excellent customer service
- A wide range of products
- Self-service payment options
- In-store technology
- I don’t know/any of the above
Ordinal Rating Scale
An ordinal rating scale question asks respondents to rate their answer on a numerical scale, general on a scale of 1-10.
With an ordinal rating scale, questions make it clear which number is assigned to positive or negative sentiment to avoid any confusion.
This type of question makes it easy for respondents to rate their satisfaction and can give you a clear, easy to understand overview of the attitude of your survey respondents.
An example of an ordinal rating scale question:
On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest), how highly do you value in-store customer service?
Interval Scale Questions
One of the most commonly used types of survey questions are interval scale questions, also known as Likert scale questions.
An interval scale question could include a number or a ‘feelings range’, such as asking the respondent if they are ‘very satisfied’, ‘satisfied’, ‘neither satisfied nor dissatisfied’, ‘unsatisfied’ or ‘very unsatisfied’. Another common version is, ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’.
This provides an easy way for respondents to answer, and the data is quite easy to analyse.
These types of questions can work well for employee surveys to determine attitudes on certain topics.
An example of an interval scale question:
How satisfied are you with the level of internal training you have received?
- Very satisfied
- Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
- Very unsatisfied
Open-ended questions allow more insight to be gained on complex issues, for which you may want to allow respondents to provide an answer in their own words.
Open-ended questions are commonly accompanied with an empty text box for people to write their answer.
This can be useful for employee surveys where you want more specific feedback on business operations or team culture or customer feedback on why they were happy or unhappy with a product or service.
Open-ended questions can provide qualitative feedback that can be used to better understand your customers, employees or public opinion.
It can be harder and more time consuming to interpret this data, however, with such a variety of responses. It’s best not to use open-ended questions too often, especially when surveying large groups. Only use them when it most makes sense.
These questions do not provide pre-set answer options and require more input from respondents. They can take longer to answer, so it’s important not to include too many in a survey as people may get fatigued and not give full answers, especially towards the end of the survey.
You could pair open-ended questions with closed-ended questions, to give respondents the option to expand their answer, however, it’s best not to make them required questions in this instance.
An example of an open-ended question:
Do you have feedback on your recent shopping experience?
Ranking questions can be beneficial for surveys to determine respondent priorities and preferences.
This helps you understand what is more important to your audience, whether it’s a product or a community issue.
These types of questions can take more time to answer and more thought on the part of the respondents, so you may not want to use them if another type of question will provide you with the information you need.
It’s also important for respondents to be familiar with each answer option for them to provide an accurate response.
An example of a ranking question:
Please rank the following fruit in order of preference (with 1 being your favourite and 5 being your least favourite)
Whether distributing a corporate survey or a customer opinion survey, always carefully consider the type of questions you use to ensure you get the most out of your surveys and they are not too time-consuming for the recipients.