Designing your questionnaire – Part 1: expert advice for a successful start

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“It’s sometimes easier to give an answer than to find the appropriate question.”

This is our motto for the first of a series of blogs dedicated to helping you optimize your own questionnaires. With the help of a few useful tips, you can encourage more people to participate in your survey.

Let’s take one step back and look at what’s important before you even get to the questionnaire: a welcome message (or introduction).  Using a short introduction will provide your participants with some important information before they get started with the task at hand – the questionnaire!

Welcome message for a Feedbackstr survey

 A well written introduction will encourage your survey participants to fully complete the questionnaire.

As promised, here are a few of my personal tips which I feel should be adhered to when preparing your own questionnaire:

Tip 1 – Greeting: say hello!

Don’t forget to greet your survey participants. A friendly welcome message will give reassurance to those who are feeling dubious. Just as you wouldn’t overdo it when talking to someone face-to-face, you shouldn’t overdo it in your questionnaire.

“Welcome to our survey!”
“Hello and thank you for scanning our QR code.”

Tip 2 – Survey topic: keep your participants on board

It is often the case that participants who scan a QR code and land at a survey are thrown in at the deep end. Mobile surveys are still a recent development, which means the normal consumer is still only really familiar with standard computer surveys or paper questionnaires. For exactly that reason, it is probably a good idea to keep your participants on board by giving them a short explanation about what they have to do:

“We would like to ask you to rate our service.”
“Using our survey, you can choose your preferred meal to be featured on next week’s menu.”

Tip 3 – Motivation: why should anyone go to the effort?

Nobody does something without having a reason, so make sure to tell your customers why it is important that they complete the questionnaire.  Once your customers realize that their opinions really do count, they’ll be much more motivated and enthusiastic about completing the survey!

“The aim of our survey is to…”
“If you’d like to see your favorite meal on next week’s menu…”

Tip 4 – Timescale: it’s a question of time

A motivated survey participant who has to give up after the 20th question due to a lack of time is just as counterproductive as an unmotivated one.  Realistically speaking, 20 questions are quite a lot but if your survey really does contain so many questions, I would recommend including a timescale in the introduction so that the participant knows how much time he needs to complete the whole survey.

“This survey consists of 6 questions.”
“Please allow 5 minutes to complete the survey.”

Tip 5 – Data protection: what happens to my personal information?

Data protection is and remains a controversial topic.  No matter how short the survey, participants should always feel reassured that their information is handled confidentially.  If your participants have trust in you, the likelihood that they will participate increases.

“Your personal information will be treated confidentially.”
“Your data will be anonymized for the purpose of our evaluation (unless you request to be contacted by us)”

Tip 6 – Survey length: brevity is the soul of wit

This is quite possibly the most important point. Should you choose to follow only one of my tips then make sure it’s this one: keep it short. If your introduction is too long, it will most likely be ignored. Here’s an example of a sufficient greeting:

“Welcome to our customer satisfaction survey! We are always striving to be the best. Help us to improve even further by answering 9 short questions.  For your participation you will receive a free hot drink of your choice from our bar. Your information will be treated confidentially and anonymized for the purpose of our evaluation. Have fun!”

Using these six tips will help optimize your survey and make it more user-friendly. If your customers feel at ease, they are much more likely to leave feedback.

So, have fun designing your questionnaire and writing your next introduction!


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Part 1: This is how you design a survey

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