An active method to learn data and information from people is to ask them directly what we need to know. This task may seem extremely simple and within everyone’s reach. However, in market research this activity requires special care. As the popular phrase goes: “in asking is giving”, analysts must be very careful and precise in the questions they ask consumers. Otherwise, there will be no other way to remedy these deficiencies than to repeat the fieldwork.
The design of questionnaires goes beyond simply feeding batteries of answers or programming systematic jumps correctly (although they are also part of it). A broad command of the language of the respondents, mastering the context in which the questions will be applied, and extensive experience in question design are more than desirable requirements to carry out successful quantitative and qualitative studies.
Here are five tips for effective questionnaire design.
- Proper profiling. In some occasions the questionnaires that we apply can be answered by all the people. However, this is not always the case. In several studies, respondents are required to master certain topics or have a particular experience. Therefore, the profiling that is done in the initial part of the survey is essential. An active supervision can help us to guarantee that the interviewers do this first phase correctly, without which the entire study can result in an expense.
- Efficient writing. The words chosen to ask a question must be clear, concise and not open to any kind of interpretation. In some languages of Latin origin it is possible to paraphrase the same idea in many ways, but this search can lead to misunderstandings. In this area we can also include the correct communication of questions. In some situations, whether due to annoyance or bad practices, interviewers can read a question in equivalent ways, thus modifying the expected answer.
- Objectivity. The questionnaires to be designed must be impartial at all times and have the greatest possible objectivity. Except in studies that require it, avoid assuming the subject of the investigation or the answers that are expected within the study hypothesis. Sometimes people are slow to answer a question. In these cases, you must be patient and repeat the question in case the respondent does not offer an answer for fear of admitting that he was distracted by hearing it. In some cases the non-response is also a response.
- Short lists of answers. In several investigations, closed or semi-closed questions are designed. In these situations, you must be very attentive and not include batteries of long answers; never in those questions in which the instruction is to read the options to the respondent. A large list can result in the loss of attention of the person who collaborates by answering our questions or adds bias due to confusion of answers; it may even result in the drop of the interview.
- Sufficient questionnaire. When a subject to be analyzed is very extensive, it is possible to fall into the temptation of designing extraordinarily long questionnaires. Although all information is valuable, it is always better to define from the beginning what we want to know about people and stick to that goal. Long interviews with elaborate questions that seem to repeat themselves over and over again end up tiring the respondents. In the best of cases, the people involved in long questionnaires will answer for answering; in others they will abandon the exercise with annoyance.
There are many more tips to add to the list listed above. However, all recommendations must be based on the objectives and scope of the study. Sometimes it will be preferable to address information and data needs through passive means such as measuring web page traffic or desktop research. The application of questionnaires must be justified so that the investment made in them results in executable and profitable findings. At Acertiva we have more than 18 years of experience in LATAM in market research. Write us today to start your next success story together.