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What is the Likert Scale?

So, what exactly is the Likert scale? Simply, it is a type of rating scale with options that range from one extreme to another, and it is one of the most popular forms of questions used in surveys.

These extremes are typically answers like “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree”, and you’ve likely seen Likert scales numerous times before in surveys you’ve answered.

The Likert scale is named after the American psychologist Rensis Likert, who first developed the 5-point scale. Likert scale questions help you discover exactly how your customers feel about your website user experience, product or service satisfaction, and customer service experience.

A Likert scale can, technically, consist of any number of points, but most people choose to use 5 or 7 points. The key is to give your customers a wide enough range of answers that they feel they are selecting the option that best articulates how they feel.

The advantage (and disadvantage) of an odd number of responses is that there will always be a middle-ground (neutral) answer for the customer to select. You can also provide an even number of points; however, this will force your customers to choose a side (more on this below).

Examples of Likert Scale Questions

There are four core types of Likert scale questions: agreement, importance, likelihood, and satisfaction. Often, you’ll see Likert scale questions used when you want your user or customer to tell you how they feel about a series of statements, but you can use them to answer individual questions, too.

Below, you’ll find examples of the types of Likert scale questions:

An agreement question looks like:

Choose the option that most closely identifies with how you feel about the following statement:

It was easy and straightforward to find and purchase the product/s I needed on ___.com:

Strongly agree – agree – slightly agree – not sure – slightly disagree – disagree – strongly disagree

Editor’s note: Ever heard of Customer Effort Score (CES)? The’yre a classic example of how you can evaluate your site’s user-friendliness through an agreement question!

An importance question looks like:

Rank the points below on how important they are to you:

Speed of Shipping: very important – important – neutral – unimportant – not at all important

Price of Shipping: very important – important – neutral – unimportant – not at all important

A likelihood question looks like:

How likely are you to refer our service to a friend or family member?

Very likely – likely – uncertain – unlikely – very unlikely

A satisfaction question looks like:

How satisfied with our service have you been thus far?

Very satisfied – satisfied – somewhat satisfied – undecided – somewhat unsatisfied – unsatisfied – very unsatisfied

If you are looking for a long list of different responses you can offer your customers, click here to see a PDF from Iowa State University.

Or, if you need advice on how to choose your questions and answers beyond what is provided here, WP Forms has a post that breaks it down step-by-step, or for more complex question development this post by Statistics How-To will help you tailor your questions by how you plan to analyze it.

The Benefits of Using Likert Scale Questions

Get Deeper Insight

The major benefit of Likert scale questions over other forms of question is that it allows your customer or user to answer by degrees – instead of a simple “yes”, “no”, or “unsure” answer, which can polarize their answers or push people to opt out of answering all together (with the “unsure” option), you allow people to tell you where they stand in that grey area.

It’s Quantifiable

Likert scale questions allow people to express their individual opinion without allowing them free rein with a text box.

While allowing people to individually write their responses to your question certainly has its place, especially when researching for new products and services, it doesn’t provide data you can group together and show visually in a graph.

You can choose to analyze the data you gather from your Likert scale questions using a median/mode, which will often prove the most useful, or on a bar or pie chart which will be best if you need to use the data at-a-glance. (Or, if you use our platform – we’ll display the at-a-glance results for you on your dashboard!)

Provide Neutral Ground or Force to Side

Depending on the data you need from the question, you can control whether you provide your customer or user with a neutral answer or force them to pick a side.

An odd number of points or responses will allow them room to sit on the fence, whereas an even number will force them to come down on one side of the fence or the other.

Neutral responses can prove valuable, as not only does it show that you didn’t lead them to choose any particular answer, but it also doesn’t give you skewed data.

How would no neutral option give you skewed data? Let’s say the question asks the customer to agree or disagree with various statements, and the first is: “We provide our customers with a wide range of products that suit their needs.”

If you offer them a 5-point answer (strongly agree, slightly agree, no opinion, slightly disagree, strongly disagree) they can choose to have no opinion – a virtual shrug.

However, if you offer them a 6-point answer (strongly agree, agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree, disagree, strongly disagree), the people who would have shrugged now have to choose a side.

While this can seem like the best option – you’re actually getting data you can use to make changes – you’ll also group the people who really don’t have any feeling about your statement with those who do.

In a 6-point answer like this, that may not be a big issue, but if you reduce the answer down any further you skew the data just by the response options you provide.

Summary

Using Likert scale questions as part of your surveys can be one of the best ways to gather quantifiable data to gain insight into where you meet, exceed, or fall short of your customer’s expectations.

If you need to ask your customers complex questions and receive answers in a form you can plot on a graph, Likert questions are one of the very best ways to do so.

And for that purpose, you can also draw inspiration from our Free Survey Template library.


Anna Rubkiewicz

Content Specialist @ Survicate. Hopeless animal lover & avid (albeit amateur) singer.