Online Surveys, Paper Surveys, Kiosk Surveys and Mobile Surveys: Understanding and Use of Factual Questions in your Questionnaire

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Factual questions, also referred to as behavioral questions, are the most common type of question used in survey questionnaires.  Whether you are designing an online, paper, kiosk or mobile survey, this type of question usually asks about past or ongoing observable behaviors or events, which in theory, can be verified by other people. 

Examples from a Customer Satisfaction Survey include: 

  1. When did you stay at the Hotel?
  2. Which restaurants did you use?
  3. How much did you spend?
  4. How many were in your party?
  5. Which Hotel facilities did you use? 

These factual questions provide you with valuable information about the usage of the products and services being researched.  They also prepare the respondent for additional questions by asking them to rate various aspects of those products and services.  

An important issue when developing your Customer Satisfaction Survey Questionnaire or any Survey Questionnaire is acknowledging the factors that may affect a respondent’s ability to recall the events. 

It is assumed the respondent can remember and answer truthfully about their past behaviors and events. 

The respondent’s ability to remember will depend on: 

  1. How important the behavior or event is to the respondent
  2. How long ago the respondent is being asked to remember.
  3. The length of the time period the respondent is being asked to remember. 

General survey guideline for memory recall: 

  1. High importance events may be remembered accurately for 1 year.
  2. Medium importance events may be remembered accurately for a month.
  3. Low importance events may be remembered accurately for 1 to 2 weeks. 

The accuracy of responses is influenced by the following factors:

  1. If the question causes the respondent discomfort, they are less likely to respond.
  2. If the question includes an answer or set of answers which are more socially acceptable or ego-enhancing, the respondents answer may be biased in the direction of the more socially acceptable or ego-enhancing answers.

Crafting your questions to best suit recall as well as any influencing factors, can ensure your survey will give you the detailed information you need for your research study.

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