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Getting to know your clients is a long-term process. One of the best ways of gathering information about them is through customer surveys that use wise questions. There are numerous survey question types that you can use. So many, that you can actually get confused – unless you read this article! 

We will cover different types of survey questions, share some best practices for creating effective questionnaires, and include a few good survey questions to ask. 

What Is a Good Survey Question?

A good survey question helps you gain definite customer insights and inform business decisions. Its asked timely and simply. A good survey question meets a respondent at a relevant customer journey stage or touchpoint. It delivers explicit answers, are short and candid, encourage replies, and feel effortless. 

Another essential trait of a good survey question is that it must always deliver value that will help you improve customer experience. 

Types of Survey Questions

Whenever you think of conducting surveys, we think of two things

  • survey questions to ask
  • customer data you want to collect

There are many types of survey questions. Always formulate survey questions to help extract the right data. Let’s now look at the survey question types you can choose from.

Open-Ended Survey Questions

Open-ended questions require respondents to speak up instead of choosing one of the answers given. They allow respondents to share their ideas freely so that they might catch insights you won’t expect—pair open-ended questions with closed questions to grab more context. Open-ended questions make sense when closed-ended survey questions aren’t enough.

Bear in mind that using too many open questions on one survey can discourage respondents from completing it, so use them when such input is indispensable!

Pros and Cons of Open-Ended Survey Questions 

Pros: 

  • leave room for creativity 
  • can give you eye-opening insights
  • eliminate bias

Cons: 

  • take more time to answer
  • can negatively impact the survey response rate - as some respondents might not want to put in the effort
  • are harder to analyze because a person needs to read answers to draw conclusions
  • answers can be irrelevant

Open-Ended Survey Question Example

Free-to-Use Customer Onboarding Feedback Survey Template

This open-ended question asked during the onboarding process will help you discover why your customer chose your product. It allows them to share their thoughts and emotions, which wouldn’t be possible if you selected the closed-ended question format.

Closed-Ended Survey Questions

Closed-ended questions are a survey question type that offers a limited list of answers to choose from.

Compared to the above survey example, this survey format minimizes the effort required to collect insights.

Your respondents don’t have to write a single word to answer your closed-ended question, as all they have to do is click on the appropriate option. Closed-ended questions can help when you want respondents vote for alternatives. Let's say you hesitate and customer voice will help you segment customer base better.

They are also a great choice when looking to collect a high volume of answers – if all people have to click, you can expect a high response rate.

So, what are the benefits and shortcomings of this survey format?

Pros and Cons of Closed-Ended Survey Questions 

Pros:

  • Answers to closed questions are quantitative, i.e., you can quickly analyze the responses for each option and draw conclusions.

    Survicate allows you see survey results right away. This way you can see which responses are most popular.
  • They are quick to answer – as mentioned earlier, all that’s needed is a single click so that you can expect higher response rates than in the case of open-ended questions.
  • This survey question type can be asked in any chosen touchpoint – you can run them simultaneously via email, chat, and in a pop-up.

Cons:

  • Closed-ended questions will not permanently shed light on why people have answered the way they did. They might, for instance, select “I’m unhappy” if asked whether they were satisfied with their recent interaction with Customer Support. Still, you won’t know why unless you add a supplementary open-ended question.
  • You might fail to foresee other answer types than those on the list. As a result, your respondents might either select an inaccurate option or drop out of the survey. A good idea to prevent this from happening is adding an open-ended, “other” option that You can fill in a text format.

Closed-Ended Survey Question Examples

Free-to-Use "How Did You Hear About Us' Survey Template

Such a question would allow you to find out how your customer found out about your company. When using such a survey format, we recommend adding the option “Other,” which – if clicked – would allow the respondents to write their answer in a text form.

Nominal Survey Questions

Nominal questions are nothing else than scale-based and closed questions. However, in this survey question type, numbers are used only to tag an answer to make it easier to categorize and analyze.

This survey question type can be used to collect answers to both objective and subjective matters, which makes them especially popular for psychological and medical evaluations. Let’s now look at the pros and cons of this survey type.

Pros and Cons of Nominal Survey Questions 

Pros:

  • Adding tags in nominal questions allows you to transform qualitative responses into quantifiable ones. This means it’s easier to analyze them in bulk.
  • You can use this survey format to collect insights on both objective and subjective topics.

Cons:

  • Nominal questions don’t allow respondents to choose another option. If you fail to formulate the scale correctly, you might see respondents abandon your survey.

Nominal Survey Questions Example

Free-to-Use Demographic Survey Template

Among others, such a question could be used for demographic and census purposes. It could, for instance, be used to determine how many respondents would choose to vote from one of the above locations, if you were to hold an election.

Likert Scale Survey Questions

Likert scale is another popular survey question type, where respondents are asked to answer on a scale. The types of responses range from one extreme to another (such as “strongly disagree” vs “strongly agree”, or “terrible” to “superb”).

There are four key areas you can evaluate within this survey example: Not familiar, Slightly familiar, Moderately familiar, Very familiar and Extremely familiar.

While the opposite edges of the scale require a strong stance, this survey question format also gives you the option of a neutral response that falls right in the middle of the scale.  Likert scale surveys are great for when you want to quickly collect answers to a number of aspects.

A hotel could, for instance, ask for an evaluation of cleanliness, perceived standard, outdoor facilities, or dining. Further in this piece, we’ll provide you with survey question examples such as this one.

Time to assess the pros and cons of this survey question type.

Pros and Cons of Likert Scale Survey Questions 

Pros:

  • You can get a wider variety of answers than in a simple yes/no, closed-ended question.
  • Likert scale surveys are quantifiable – you can calculate the percentage for each response type.
  • By adjusting the number of elements on the scale, you can either give the option of staying neutral or force to take a stance.

Cons:

  • Likert scale questions don’t give you insight into why a person responded the way they did – you would need a follow-up, open-ended question for that.
  • If you force your respondents to take a side on a subject where they genuinely don’t have an opinion (i.e., don’t give them a ‘neutral’ answer to select), they might abandon the survey.

Likert Scale Survey Question Example

Here is an example of a Likert scale question from our free survey template library. As you can see, it allows you to rate a few aspects of a company’s offer, all in a single view. You could opt for such a survey to keep track of the overall customer experience health.

Free-to-Use Likert Scale Survey Template

Rating Scale Survey Questions

These type of rating scale surveys, as the name might already suggest, have a set order of answers on the options list. As opposed to nominal questions, ordinal question responses are always linear, which means you can better see the relativeness between each consecutive answer.

Rating scale questions allow you to quantify responses on areas such as perceived value, satisfaction, or feelings, i.e., such that are often subjective in nature. As you might have already guessed, the above-mentioned Likert scale question is one type of such a query.

Rating scales are among good survey questions to ask when you want to understand the variety of emotions or preferences among your respondents. That’s what makes them a popular market research survey method.That being said, let’s summarize the advantages and disadvantages of using them.

Pros and Cons of Rating Scale Survey Questions

Pros:

  • They are much better than simple yes/no questions (discussed below) at showing user preference.
  • You can use them to quantify responses that are subjective (i.e., qualitative).
  • You can quickly spot improvement needs. If you see that a large group of people say they are strongly dissatisfied with an area, you’ll know that you need to get working on it promptly.

Cons:

  • As is the case of other closed-ended questions, ordinal questions don’t tell you why someone gave a specific answer. This is especially crucial when it comes to answers on opposite extremes. If you won’t supplement your rating scale question with an open-ended query, you won’t know why people evaluated it the way they did.

Rating Scale Survey Question Example

Rating scale survey questions let you rank beliefs and personal convictions, in a quantifiable form. A very good example of the rating scale question is the NPS survey that helps assess the sentiment around a brand.

Free-to-Use NPS Survey Template

'Yes' or 'No' Survey Questions

One of the simplest survey question formats, they are also known as ‘polarized’, as they offer only two, strong stances as answer options. Therefore, they are best used when you want confirmation that a process was successfully finalized, or wish to confirm an assumption you have. 

Yes or no questions make a great element of a conversation flow. In the example below, you can see the chatbot conversation flow, where different types of survey questions appear one after another. 

Surivcate survey inside Intercom chat

Btw: Do you know that Survicate offers Intercom Messenger Integration? See how it works.

What are the pros and cons of these simple survey question types?

Pros and Cons of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ Survey Questions

Pros:

  • They’re very quick to answer. As respondents need to click just once, you are likely to see high response rates (that is, if you run your survey in the right communication channels).
  • They are easily quantifiable.
  • Easy to prove or overrule an assumption, which can be useful for internal discussions regarding your product development.
  • “Yes” or “No” survey questions make perfect survey introductions - they can guide your survey logic.

Cons:

  • You don’t know why a person chose to answer the way they did. Therefore, it is best to use them for simple questions that leave little room for interpretation. We provide one such example in an upcoming section.

‘Yes’ or ‘No’ Survey Question Example

Free-to-Use Newsletter Feedback Survey Template

Here, you can see a question on how interesting your newsletter was for your clients. This particular survey has the additional "neutral" option, but you don't have to include it if you're after more polarized results.

Multiple Choice Survey Questions

A multiple-choice question is a survey question type that lets respondents select more than one option from a list of predefined answers. It’s useful when you want to evaluate a particular situation in more detail, and give respondents more options for justifying their point of view. For instance, to find out why they decided to choose your product over a competitor’s. 

Pros and Cons of Multiple Choice Survey Questions

When it comes to the benefits and drawbacks of using this type of survey question, they are as follows

Pros:

  • You get structured responses, which makes data easy to analyze.
  • They are intuitive and easy to complete. 
  • They display well on mobile devices.
  • They allow you to find solutions to problems that have multiple contributing factors.

Cons:

  • They only provide a limited choice of options, leaving no room for creativity.
  • They might result in bias, as you're forcing respondents to select a predefined answer unless you offer the option “other”.

Multiple Choice Survey Question Example

Multiple choice survey question in survicate

You can use a multiple choice questions to prioritize the next topics for your blog! Include this question in your next reader interest survey.

Free-to-Use Reader Interest Survey Template

Picture Choice Survey Questions

As indicated by its name, picture choice questions are closed-ended questions that include images as answers instead of just plain text. You can use them either when it’s easier to present answers in an image format, or to enrich your text answer to make the survey more engaging. They work well when you want to review visual aspects of something such as your logo.

Here are the pros and cons of using this type of survey question. 

Pros and Cons of Picture Choice Questions

Pros:

  • They are more engaging as respondents find them more fun to answer.
  • Answers are simpler to understand. 
  • They offer a higher response rate, as people find them easier and more fun to fill.

Cons:

  • Respondents might simply select an image that they like the most. It might not necessarily correspond to what they really think which will result in bias.
  • They might misinterpret the image if it doesn’t include any text. 

Picture Choice Question Example

Free-to-Use CSAT survey template

In this type of CSAT survey, emojis replaced a numerical scale to help the respondents convey their emotions better.

Matrix Survey Questions

Matrix questions are presented in a table format, allowing you to include a few questions in a row, with the same response options. You can either use the Likert scale or rating questions in your matrix. This type of survey question can be very useful if you want to evaluate a customer experience, for example. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using matrix questions?

Pros and Cons of Matrix Survey Questions

Pros:

  • It’s presented as a single question, despite including multiple questions, which saves space. 
  • The survey appears shorter, which has a positive impact on the response rate. 
  • The grid is clean, which makes it quick and easy to answer.
  • The data is easy to analyze.

Cons:

  • If you add too many rows or columns it might negatively impact the quality of data. Respondents will be given too many options and might either give up on survey completion or give an insincere answer. 

Matrix Survey Question Example 

Free-to-Use Voice of Customer Survey Template

A matrix question can be used in a Voice of Customer type of survey to discover which aspects of your product matter the most to your customers. This well help you prioritize development areas.

Dropdown Survey Questions

Dropdown questions allow you to present your answers in a scrollable list. It’s a good choice of a survey question type if you’re planning to include a lot of answers, for instance, if it’s a demographic question. 

Dropdown questions tend to be less overwhelming than multiple choice questions, as respondents have to scroll through the list to view all their answer options. 

Dropdown questions also have their pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Dropdown Survey Questions 

Pros:

  • The data is easy to analyze.
  • The question is quick and intuitive to answer. 
  • It’s not overwhelming which encourages a high response rate.

Cons:

  • It might be tempting to include too many options in the dropdown list which will create confusion and might discourage respondents from answering it. 

Dropdown Survey Questions Example

Dropdown question in Survicate

Asking demographic questions, including age will give you good insights about your target audience. That's why it's a useful question for buyer persona survey types.

Free-to-Use Buyer Persona Survey Template

Ranking Survey Questions

A ranking question is a type of survey question where you ask respondents to order answers in terms of their importance. This helps you achieve two things: gain an understanding of how people feel about each option provided, and see how popular each option is. They can help you decide which product features to prioritize or even what type of blog post to write.

Ranking questions might be more time-consuming for respondents, so if you can use a different question format instead, then do so. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using ranking questions.

Pros and Cons of Ranking Survey Questions 

Pros:

  • They give you a good indication of what matters to your respondents
  • They eliminate the tendency to straight-line, i.e. to assign the same rate to all items just to save time on completion. 

Cons:

  • They might give you inaccurate results as respondents cannot rate the items in the same way, even if they wanted to. 
  • They address items in relation to each other not individually. 
  • They might be subject to order bias as respondents might rank the first item set more positively than the second one. 

Ranking Survey Questions Examples

Ranking questions help discover which aspects of your service are the most important to your customer. Here's an example of a ranking for a food delivery service:

Ranking survey in Survicate

Survey Questions Best Practices

With the types and examples of survey questions to ask now clear, it’s time to discuss some of the best practices. Make sure to give the tips below a thorough read to ensure that you’re selecting the best survey format that aligns with your use case and are getting the highest possible response rates. Let’s begin with the common mistakes you should avoid.

Dont’s

  • Don't use leading questions – avoid asking questions that point to an answer, such as, “Our customer service is exceptional, isn’t it?” as it will cause the result's bias. 
  • Avoid difficult language – make sure that your questions are written in an easy-to-understand language otherwise it will discourage your respondents from filling in the survey. 
  • Don't use jargon or abbreviations – as they will make questions hard to understand, and your respondents might fail to provide answers. 
  • Don’t include too many questions – respect your respondents' time, and only include questions that you really need answers to, and remove any “extras”. 
  • Don't provide too many answer options – the same goes for giving respondents too many answers to choose from. Ask yourself “are all of the options needed?” Perhaps, instead of listing out 15 different answer types, you could group and label them together to take the list of responses down to five? Such an approach will not only make it easier to answer but also facilitate survey analysis.

With the common mistakes out of the way, it’s now time to discuss good survey ideas to follow.

Do’s

  • Minimize your respondents’ effort – use closed-ended questions where possible, and leave open-ended questions for when it’s really necessary.
  • Determine where to ask your question – To get the highest number of responses, it’s crucial to establish where your customers are most active (website, email, and/or communication app). Depending on the survey question type, ask your question across all channels or in the one which best fits the context. For instance, if you want to learn about user interface improvement ideas, it’s best to ask within your web or mobile app or on your website, when you detect activity from a user.
  • Ask at the right time – for instance, when your customers finish the exact process you want to evaluate.
  • Ask the most important questions first  – as we’ve found in our survey completion rate report, with each question, there is a drop in response rates. Therefore, make sure to prioritize important queries and leave any “nice-to-have” at the end of the survey.
The impact of the number of survey questions on the average completion rate | Survicate research

What You Can Do With Good Survey Questions

By asking good survey questions, you can address a variety of use cases and expect a number of benefits. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Improved customer service
  • Finding out the reasons for customer churn, and learning how you can address the issue
  • Learning what customers think about your product or service or their specific features 
  • Measuring and monitoring customer loyalty & satisfaction metrics
  • Checking the effectiveness of specific processes like onboarding.

To get a full overview of what surveys can help you achieve, we highly recommend giving our other pieces on the blog a read.

Summary

To sum up, make sure that your survey questions are asked in a simple, straightforward manner. You should avoid leading questions, as well as using jargon, as it can potentially put off respondents. Whenever possible, adjust the surveys format so that there are as few questions and steps as possible. All of this will help collect relevant results and boost your response rates.

With a customer feedback tool like Survicate, you’ll be able to ask all of the above-mentioned survey questions (and others of your choice). You can collect 100 answers a month on a Free plan, and use your account with an unlimited number of users. So, how about giving it a shot? You can sign up here.

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