Survey writing isn’t just about asking questions and getting answers- you need to ask the right questions, in the right context, and in the right order. There are decades of psychological research to help surveyors understand how to best word questions and to guide a participant through a survey. As you draft a survey, it’s important to keep a couple key points in mind.
Context. Without proper context, research has shown that when people are asked for top-of-mind feedback, they can rarely express why they like/don’t like certain things. Giving context can be as simple as asking specific questions about a product or service. Start by asking close-ended questions such as about the quality of the attributes of a product or how important each attribute is to them. You can then clarify a response with an open-ended question by asking them something like, “why do you say that?”
Memory. Memory can be a more elusive part of the brain than people commonly think. For example, many participants may find it difficult to remember how satisfied they were with a product in the past and will use their current level of satisfaction as an anchor and adjust their response upward or downward based on an incomplete recollection of their first few weeks of using a product. If eliciting a response about past experience, it is best to use a landmark such as “the very first time a product was used,” and to not ask about numerous periods of time.
Colin Wahl, CEO Client Opinions, Inc.