Don’t Make Your Survey Respondents Think Too Hard

Think before you ask survey respondents questions that may not be easy to answer without calculations

Asking percentage questions can provide useful data. But, if they are difficult for the respondent to answer, using them may decrease response rates or compromise the quality of data if answered incorrectly.

Snap Surveys guest blogger, Gary Austin of Austin Research discusses his personal experience with a client who wanted to include a question in a B2B survey asking retailers what percentage of their sales of a certain product were accounted for by different brands in his blog post, It’s not a math exam! Don’t ask respondents to calculate percentages (below).  


It’s not a math exam! Don’t ask respondents to calculate percentages

calc-percentage-in-surveyA client recently wanted to include a question on a b2b survey asking retailers what percentage of their sales of a certain product were accounted for by different brands. I took their request very literally and turned it into a question that directly asked the percentage of total sales that each brand accounted for.

There was no problem with respondents understanding the question but most had a problem answering it. The question interrupted the flow of the survey. These retailers never thought about the percentage of sales accounted for by each brand. They could tell you the sales of each brand individually but they then needed to calculate percentages from them, something that’s very difficult to do during the course of an interview.

Fortunately the survey was asked by telephone so interviewers pointed out the problem early on and the question was changed to ask about volume sales for each brand from which we, rather than the respondent, then calculated the percentages.

Would the question have worked in an online survey?…

Continue reading the full blog post


About Gary Austin: Contributing guest blogger, Gary Austin of Austin Research has over 20 years of experience in designing, managing, and interpreting quantitative research projects. Gary shares a true passion for the quality and integrity of surveys, and enjoys sharing his insights.

Follow Gary Austin: @AustinResearch

Comments are closed.