Surveys can be incredibly powerful data collection tools for businesses. However, they remain chronically underused; largely because most businesses don’t know how to deploy them effectively. There are some fantastic tools on the market today for building surveys and putting together mobile forms.
But putting together forms and surveys is only one part of the puzzle. If you want to use them effectively, you need to think carefully about exactly what you put in them and what their purpose is. Businesses can use surveys both internally and externally; here’s what you need to know to get the most out of them.
Define the purpose
The most important piece of advice for any business that intends on using surveys as a data collection method is to clearly define your goals at the start of the process. If you don’t know what you are trying to achieve by building a survey, you’re going to struggle to design it effectively.
Perhaps you want to get feedback from your customers and find out what they think about your business as a whole. Alternatively, you might be more concerned with their response to specific products and services you offer. You might not want feedback from your customers at all; perhaps you’re more interested in what your staff think.
There are endless reasons why you might want to use surveys for reporting and feedback. Before you start composing your survey, define its purpose clearly.
Follow the KISS principle
Using an app like Tapapp to build your surveys makes the entire process quick and easy. But when adding new elements to your forms is so simple, it’s easy to fall into the trap of adding more than you need to. To get the most out of your surveys, you should aim to keep them as streamlined as possible. This is where the KISS principle comes in.
KISS is an acronym; Keep it Short and Simple. Having defined the purpose of your survey, it should be relatively easy to identify the key data you need to get out of it. You can then establish what questions you need to ask to get that information. Don’t bulk your surveys out with extraneous questions that don’t help fulfil the primary purpose of your survey.
Be direct with your questions
If your survey questions are vague, the responses you get will be vague as well. Vague responses make it much harder to pick out the key information you need and cand extract from the effectiveness of your surveys. Vague questions and answers make it difficult to draw reliable conclusions from your final answer pool.
Specificity is also helpful for your respondents. If you want information about specific behaviours and ideas, make sure your question is phrased to make this clear.
Stick to one question at a time
While keeping your survey short and to the point is important, you shouldn’t achieve this by cramming multiple questions into one. Focusing on one question at a time makes things a lot less confusing for respondents and ensures that each question has a specific purpose.
If your questions contain the word “and”, double-check that you haven’t merged two completely separate questions together. That’s not to say that the word “and” is to be avoided at all costs, but you should be careful with how you use it.
Avoid leading questions and implied biases
A leading question is a question that suggests you want a certain answer through the language you formulate it with. Unless you are conscious of leading questions, it’s easy for them to sneak into your surveys without you realising. In everyday speech, we often ask leading questions and questions that betray our biases without meaning to.
Leading questions and implied biases create problems in surveys because they can steer respondents away from answering truthfully and objectively, and instead cause them to give you the answer they think you want to hear.
Keep your questions objective and avoid using emotive language wherever possible. They should be focused on the respondents’ thoughts and opinions without introducing your own opinions into the mix.
Speak your audience’s language
Whether you’re building a survey for your staff or customers, you should be mindful of who your audience is. The language and tone you use should match the way that your audience speaks. Using overly complex language or terms unfamiliar to your respondents is likely to confuse them and make it harder for them to give the clear answers you’re looking for.
Combine quantitative and qualitative answers
An effective survey should combine quantitative and qualitative answers. Quantitative answers are numerical answers; asking respondents to rate their response on a scale. These answers are helpful because they re clear-cut and objective; there’s no ambiguity about what respondents mean.
However, there are some types of question that demand a qualitative response. These are responses formulated using words. The answers you get will be a lot more varied as your respondents will have more freedom to formulate their answers. However, deciphering the intent and meaning beneath these answers can be more difficult as they are inherently subjective.
Avoid agree/disagree questions
Asking your respondents whether they agree or disagree with a sentiment might seem logical, but it can be problematic. Many people feel an obligation to agree with sentiments. Asking people whether they agree or disagree with a statement also presents them with a binary choice. Someone might agree or disagree, but with some additional caveats. If you do this type of question in your survey, it is usually worth allowing your respondents to elaborate on their answers in some way.
Start off simple
It is good to ease your respondents into your survey by starting with the simplest questions first. For the first few questions of your survey, stick to questions that won’t require much thought or objective analysis. Once you have eased your audience into things, you can start asking more complex questions.
When they are used correctly, surveys are a fantastic way of getting valuable data and information from your audience. Whether you intend on using them internally to evaluate your business, or you want to get feedback from your customers, a well-designed survey is a simple and efficient way of gathering information.
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