How To Ask Effective Open-Ended Survey Questions

How can you ask effective open-ended survey questions?

  1. Don’t ask leading questions
  2. Ask about the what and why
  3. Avoid asking too many questions
  4. Use it to complement close-ended survey questions

The key to asking insightful customer feedback comes down to asking the right questions and oftentimes, deciding to go for close-ended questions won’t always be sufficient. Let’s say you add a question to your survey “What can we do to improve our product/service?” and the customer selects an option like “customer service”. Such a close-ended survey approach won’t exactly tell you how to improve. This is why it’s important to learn how to ask effective open-ended survey questions.

Open-ended questions are a type of survey question that lets customers provide their own responses. Instead of letting them choose from a list of predetermined answers, you allow them to tell you exactly what they think about your product/service in their own words.

When done right, open-ended questions can be a powerful tool for gaining unbiased insights about respondents’ wants and needs, what they like about your company, and what their pain points are. That’s why in this guide, we have rounded up four tips on how to ask effective open-ended survey questions. Read on!

Don’t Ask Leading Questions

Leading questions refer to suggestive questions that prompt respondents to answer in a specific manner. More often than not, the questions already contain information that a survey owner wants to confirm. Some examples of leading questions are “How great is our hard-working customer service staff?” or “How much do you love our product?”.

Asking leading questions results in highly biased and unreliable feedback because the respondents are framed to give answers that are not necessarily what they really believe. Simply put, these defeat the purpose of an open-ended survey which is: to gather unbiased respondent insights.

With open-ended surveys, you aim to learn more about customer needs. Leading questions results in missed opportunities to truly understand what your customers are experiencing. Thus, it is important to ask only neutral questions that do not give away your desired response results or expectations.

Ask About The What and Why

Ask About The What and Why

The aim of asking open-ended survey questions is to have a deeper understanding of what your customers feel and why they feel that way. Make sure you address the what and the why when you create an open-ended survey. Avoid adding in questions that will only give one-word answers like “yes” or “no”. Instead, ask them exactly what their experience was and why they feel the way they do.

Instead of asking “Did you enjoy our customer service experience?, ask “What did you think about our customer service?” and “Why did you think that?”. These questions are the key to having an effective open-ended survey that gathers insightful and actionable responses. As a result, your team will be able to know exactly how to improve your products/services.

Avoid Asking Too Many Questions

When done wrong, open-ended questions can be painstaking for both the respondent and the survey owner.

Taking the time to answer an open-ended question might not sound like much to you, but it’s not always easy to think through your opinions and come up with a coherent response. This being said, asking too many open-ended questions can tire out and discourage your responses, making them less likely to answer or finish your survey.

In the same way, having too many open-ended questions can be tiring for you. Analyzing open-ended question answers is time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a survey tool. Each open-ended answer is unique so you can’t simply put the responses into an organized spreadsheet and immediately gain insights. You need to manually code each response.

To significantly boost response rates and make analyzing easier, make sure to be selective and avoid asking too many questions that leave too much room for interpretation.

Use It To Complement Close-Ended Survey Questions

Use It To Complement Close-Ended Survey Questions

Open-ended questions are ideal when you are looking to collect qualitative feedback, when you want to limit your responses’ options, as well as when you want to supplement your close-ended questions.

As stated earlier, you have to manually code each open-ended question answer, which can be time-consuming. So consider these questions as supplements of the alternative. This way, you won’t only be able to save more time for analyzing, but you will also gain insight for otherwise vague close-ended responses.

For example, when you ask a close-ended question like “Are you satisfied with this product?”, follow it up with an open-ended question like “What do you like most about our product?”. This gives you a more concise insight into what the customer is thinking.

Be cautious about adding too many questions as well to avoid hampering response rates. A good way to go about this is to add an open-ended question after every 3 discrete questions. If you plan to analyze the answers manually, cut it down to one open-ended question for every 5 close-ended questions.

Key Takeaway

Open-ended survey questions can be a powerful tool for improving your business, but only when done right. When you create a survey, keep these four tips on how to ask effective open-ended survey questions to boost response rates and understand your customer’s needs better.

Looking for a survey tool that lets you incorporate open-ended questions? Choose Qeryz! As the leading website feedback tool, our surveys also have built-in analytics features to make it easier to improve your business. Click here to subscribe to the Qeryz FREE 15-day trial period!

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