Common Mistakes You Should Avoid in Survey Questions

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<span class="text-link" ><span><a target="_blank" href="">photo by People Creations</a></span></span>

We spend a lot of time dwelling on our survey questions and put a lot of effort into getting it just right. Even when the audience is just right and, the questions are easy to understand and the layout is pleasing to the eye, things can go wrong. This can lead us to receive fewer responses than we had hoped for or feedback that wasn’t practical.

You are certainly not alone. We have narrowed down 4 pitfalls that frequently appear in surveys and how to steer clear of them.

  1. Too many questions

Have you ever taken a survey and in the beginning felt a little excited about the possible questions? Then, after answering 20 questions you start to wonder if the survey has an end, and by 50, you just switch off? If the number of questions comes up before a participant even starts, they might just close the screen on the spot.

Although technology has improved so much and this has made it very easy for people to respond to surveys on their smartphones (perfect if they are bored), it’s still not enough to keep them fully engaged. It is estimated that 80% of people abandon a survey halfway through if it takes more than three minutes.

People don’t have time and you need to make sure your survey shows you appreciate this. Leave out any questions that aren’t going to provide you with concrete feedback, time how long it takes to do your survey before publishing it, any more than a few minutes and you need to shorten it.

  • The questions are too complex

If you have reduced the length of your survey but people are still leaving midway, it could be because of the structure of your questions. Lengthy questions lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and even the wrong answer, which provides you with false data. Or people leave. For example, “Does our product make you feel impressed, special, and proud? What would a participant do if they agreed with two of the three?

It is said that the average adult reads at an 8th grade-level. While there is no need to insult the intelligence of your participants, you should phrase the questions so that they are easier to understand, the example above should be split into three questions in order to get an accurate response. Also avoid slang, industry-specific vocabulary, and idioms.

  • The timing is inappropriate

Some people spend 10 minutes on their phone in the morning before having to get up, others catch up during the lunch hour. Some people will delete a message without even looking at the weekends late at night. Timing when to send your survey message is tricky but essential.

First of all, there is no real golden rule here. It will depend on the industry. The best way to carry out your research is to look over the results of your past surveys and make a note of the times when participants were most engaged, don’t forget to check for days of the week and the time of the day.

  • Follow-up questions for the right participants

It makes sense that you want to find out why people are saying yes or no, but you need to make sure the questions are relevant to the individual. If your survey asks the participants if they have contacted customer service before, one person will say yes, the other no. You might want to ask the customer who said yes is the contact was successful. If you ask the same follow-up question to the customer who said no, they might be frustrated by the fact that you have said no.

It is important to try and get more information with follow-up questions but ensure that they don’t appear in everyone’s survey, only for those who are able to answer them.