How to ask the right questions on your online surveys?


Understanding your customers and how they process information is important to consider when building survey questions.

Understanding your customers and how they process information is important to consider when building survey questions. It’s not enough to just ask the questions (of course, that’s a great start!). How you frame and format questions can affect the quality of respondents’ answers, as well as overall survey engagement and response rates. Checkbox Survey software offers a number of question formats and intuitive editing tools to help you optimize surveys for your customers. Below are a few tips on how to ask the right questions:

What are the Most Relevant Questions?

The first question to ask should be directed at your business, not your customer. What is the goal of this survey? Only after determining the answer to this question can you start building your survey. For example, if you want to send a customer satisfaction survey after a support interaction, your goal could be to review the quality of your support staff, gauge the ease of use of your support portal, determine trending pain points in your product or service, etc.  Maybe your goal includes all of these things. Pick out the most important questions – the answers to which will help you achieve your goal – early on in your survey to maximize response potential. Respondents tend to be more engaged at the beginning of a survey than at the end.

What are the Best Question Formats to Use?

While Checkbox Survey software comes with a variety of survey templates to guide you, every business is unique and you will inevitably want to create your own customized surveys. We offer several editable question types to choose from. Radio button and checkbox question types present a list of preexisting answer options and are great for moving respondents through a survey quickly. Your customer simply needs to choose the most relevant answer.

Although it is generally a best practice to keep initial followup surveys concise, the goal is to gather as much detail about a customer’s experience as possible. For this reason, it is not recommended to rely solely on straight yes or no answers. You want to allow respondents to elaborate on what they liked or didn’t like about their experience. For example, instead of asking: “Would you recommend our company to others? Yes/No” you should use a multiple choice question with a range of answer options or a scale. This will help you gain more precise metrics and paint the largest possible picture of the customer’s experience.

Open response questions are great for encouraging elaboration but shouldn’t be relied upon as the only question type. Remember, time is precious to your customers. They don’t want to write a report. We recommend reserving open response questions to use as follow-up questions to primary multiple choice questions you would like the respondent to elaborate on based on their response. For example if a respondent indicates that they are dissatisfied with a product, you might want to follow that question up with an open response question asking the respondent to explain their reasons for dissatisfaction.  Checkbox’s new same-page conditions allow you to include hidden questions that only appear when triggered by a respondent’s answer selection, personalizing the survey for each respondent.

Tips for Wording Questions and Answer Options

  • Break up long, broad questions into shorter, more specific questions to keep respondents moving.
  • Eliminate unnecessary words, but make sure the question you are asking is clear.  You want respondents to process text as quickly as possible.
  • When creating answer choices try to anticipate respondents’ answers and include as many options as you think are relevant. By not including enough relevant answer choices you could force a respondent to skip the question or to choose an answer that doesn’t apply to them.
  • Include an “other” option when necessary to allow respondents to include answer options you haven’t provided.
  • Include a “not applicable (NA)” option if the question does not apply to all respondents.

Build smarter surveys with our comprehensive Checkbox Survey tool. With dozens of question types and advanced features like same-page conditional logic, you can create personalized surveys your customers will want to take.

December 2, 2022
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