Perfect Survey Series: Building a Better Survey

October 29, 2008
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Surveys are supposed to provide organizations with information about the needs of their customers and prospects, the hope is that this information can be leveraged into actionable information and make the recipient’s experience more meaningful. Yet so many surveys are full of flaws and as a result the responses are less valuable than expected.

One of the biggest mistakes made is the military-style opening – the request for name, rank and serial n


Surveys are supposed to provide organizations with information about the needs of their customers and prospects, the hope is that this information can be leveraged into actionable information and make the recipient’s experience more meaningful. Yet so many surveys are full of flaws and as a result the responses are less valuable than expected.

One of the biggest mistakes made is the military-style opening – the request for name, rank and serial number right out of the gate. We’ve seen many surveys that start off by asking the user to identify themselves, the survey then progresses to a series of multiple choice questions and ends with the text box for opinions.

Think about the last time you responded to a survey, did your answers skew from the start to the end? Typically, we lose interest and start half-reading the questions and answers. Most respondents start off the survey by giving aspirational answers but as time progresses they tune out and may contradict previous answers or completely abandon your survey. In either case, the end results aren’t helpful and can be a waste of time for all parties.

A better way to engage the user is to ask them to share their opinion through a text box, keep questions interesting, engaging and try to solicit true views – do this by offering creative response options or by keeping the question types variable. These strategies will help you hold the respondent’s attention and will ultimately yield more truthful responses. Collect your demographic information at then end when the respondent is on auto-pilot and more comfortable with providing the information.

Finally, try and leverage the responses in future communications – email, online etc. Acknowledge that the update/ change is a result of survey respondent, you’ll bank extra points with all recipients.
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