Online, Paper, Kiosk and Mobile Surveys: Asking Precise Behavioral and Factual Questions

When developing your online survey questionnaire (as well as paper, kiosk or mobile surveys) for your study, how you word the questions directly influences the detail and accuracy of information you receive from your Respondents.  In all types of survey questionnaires, Respondents usually find precise questions easier to answer than general questions.   Examples of a general question and a precise question are shown in a customer survey below: 

Here’s a ‘General Question’ in a typical customer survey: 

How Often Do You Visit A Restaurant? 

___ Once Per Day

___ Once Per Week

___ Three times or More Per Week

___ Once Per Month

___ Less Than Once Per Month                           

This question is quite difficult to answer unless you visit restaurants on a regular basis.  The question is too vague and imprecise for someone to answer quickly. 

Here’s a ‘Precise’ Question in a typical customer survey. The added precision in the following question makes it much easier to answer: 

How Many Times Have you Eaten in a Restaurant This Week (Please exclude fast food restaurants including all drive-thru and counter order establishments?) 

___ Not at All

___ Once

___ Twice

___ Three Times

___ More Than Three Times  

The focus is on a specific short time period, and most respondents will be able to provide an accurate response. The meaning of “restaurant” is also clarified in this customer survey to exclude fast food establishments. 

These two examples should help you to formulate your questionnaire for the best possible survey outcome.

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