How to Make Great Surveys and Questionnaires
Updated: Jan 11
Surveys (or questionnaires) are a great way to collect qualitative data from your stakeholders. Qualitative data is important because it can offer a more intimate and nuanced picture of your stakeholders than simple quantitative benchmarks. Interviews, focus groups, and surveys are all great tools to collect qualitative data; however, surveys are useful because they allow you to reach a large number of people, and therefore get a broad understanding of the general thoughts on a topic.
Here at Kai Analytics, we make a lot of surveys, and we wanted to share some of the things we’ve learned. Below you’ll find instructions on how to make your own survey, including how to use the Net Promoter Score to rate satisfaction, a guide to writing open-ended questions, and notes on data compliancy. By the end of this article, you’ll make able to create surveys for business, education, healthcare, and research.
Assessing Satisfaction with the Net Promoter Score
When most of us imagine a survey, we picture questions like “please rate your experience with us from 1-5, with 1 being very dissatisfied, and 5 being very satisfied.”, and while these kinds of questions work well in some situations they can be done better.
You may have heard of something called the Net Promoter Score (NPS). The Net Promoter Score was developed by NICE Systems Inc. to help measure customer experience and predict business growth. Along with the Likert scale, NPS is considered best practice when creating surveys.
NPS style questions will sound like this: “please rate your experience with this call from 0-10, with 1 being the lowest score and 10 being the highest.” Followed by: “please tell us why you gave us this score.” NPS considers scores from 0-6 to be detractors, 7-8 passives, and 9-10 as promoters. Then the percentage of detractors is subtracted from the percentage of promoters to output the Net Promoter Score. The Net Promoter Score can be as high as 100 or as low as -100, where 0 is neutral.
In the first section of your survey, you may ask a series of NPS style questions that ask participants to rate satisfaction from 0-10 in areas that are of interest to you. After each question, you should give participants the opportunity to explain why they gave you that score. These explanations will allow you to dig deeper into specific areas, and the NPS will point you in the right direction.
Open Ended Questions
Open ended questions give the people responding to your survey a chance to give you feedback on areas you may not have thought to ask about. They can be an important source of rich qualitative data if they are done right.
When writing open-ended questions, it is important to be specific. For example, ask “What did you enjoy about the experience?” instead of “Please tell us what you liked or disliked about today’s service.” Being specific will make analysis of your survey much, much, easier. Have one question asking respondents what they liked, and another asking what they disliked. Making these questions optional will help respondents focus on their genuine feedback and avoid forced responses.
It can be tempting to lean heavily on open-ended questions because they provide such rich information. But it is important to remember that answering open-ended questions can feel exhausting, so asking too many may actually lower the number of people who complete your survey. Try to limit yourself to 3-5 open-ended questions.
If your survey is going to people who live in a culture different from yours, it is very important that you take the time to consider how that culture might react to your questions. For example, in some countries asking questions about one's sexual orientation may be taboo or even punishable by law. So it may be necessary to omit questions about the topic.
Most (if not all) surveys today are administered online. Whether you choose to use Google or Microsoft forms, or a more dedicated tool like Alchemer, you’ll be able to create surveys with everything discussed above. A key consideration when choosing your survey tool is how it fits with your data compliance policies. For example, our tool Unigrams will allow you to store your data in either Canada or the US, to ensure you’re in line with privacy laws.
Confidentiality is a key consideration for many respondents when they choose to fill out a survey. Creating an anonymous survey will help boost the quality of responses, since people will feel safer expressing their true feelings. While an anonymous survey is mostly defined by a legal statement at the start of the survey, to be drafted by a lawyer, there are steps you can take to ensure anonymity during analysis:
Don’t ask respondents to include their name, or any other uniquely identifiable information in the survey. This will help foster trust in your anonymous survey.
Remind respondents not to include personal information in their responses. This may include their name, or the name of other customers or employees. Removing this information will help you to minimize the bias in your survey.
Use an analysis tool that automatically recognizes and removes sensitive information.
Now you’re ready to administer your survey! Surveys can be a powerful source of qualitative data, and give you detailed insight into your stakeholders. There are a ton of tools for building surveys and questionnaires but consider how your respondents’ data will be stored when choosing a platform. This will also impact the anonymity of your survey. Use the Net Promoter Score to quickly determine sentiment and point you in the direction of things that are going well, and areas to improve. Remember to include some open-ended questions, but don’t get greedy. Be specific and limit yourself to 3-5 of these.
Once you get your survey data back, visit us again to learn about the first step in analyzing qualitative data: coding qualitative data.
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