Rating Scale and Balance Questions for your Survey

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Determining rating point scales for your Performance Evaluation and Level of Satisfaction surveys is important in Satisfaction Survey Design. Whether you are designing a customer, employee, or healthcare satisfaction survey, getting people to evaluate performance or level of satisfaction will depend on whether or not the topic is important to them. 

Research shows that including a middle alternative increases the number of responses to a category but does not affect the ratio of ‘pro to con’ or the number of responses to the ‘don’t know’ category. 

Indifferent or ‘middle of the road’ respondents should not be forced to make a choice pro or con.   It’s recommended that you design an odd number of points to your Ranking/Rating Scale Question, plus, a “no opinion” option. 

A five point scale is suggested as it gives the respondent sufficient discrimination and is easy to understand and respond to. 

In addition to determining your point scale you will also want to consider designing balanced or unbalanced scale questions for your Satisfaction Survey.  Depending on the product or service you are evaluating, you may have an expectation of how the respondents will answer.  Based on that assessment, you may choose one of the following: 

Balanced Scale Question:  There is no expectation of more positive or negative responses or vice versa.   A balanced scale will have an equal number of positive and negative responses with a neutral rating and a “no opinion” rating.   

Unbalanced Scale Question:  If there are many more positive than negative evaluations or vice versa, an unbalanced scale will provide greater discrimination amongst responses for the same number of points on the scale.

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