The purpose of a good survey is to dig deep to learn what your customers really think about your products or services and your customer service.
You want to provide a survey to your customers that not only meets their usability needs, but one that meets yours.
The results you are looking for are in-depth and reliable. To do this, you must create a balanced survey that asks the right questions.
In this article, we look at how to achieve balance in a survey.
Watch for Bias
Your first step in achieving balance in a survey is writing open-ended survey questions that avoid bias.
This means staying away from questions that bias respondents towards one answer.
Biased questions ruin your survey’s reliability because the answers you receive aren’t accurate.
What does a biased question look like? Here’s an example:
We love our new cleaning solution. How wonderful do you think it is?
While this may be an extreme example of bias, you can see how this pressures respondents to come up with a positive answer.
This is not only off-putting to respondents, but it skews your data.
One way to fix this question is to write one like this: How does our new cleaning solution work for you?
This puts the focus on the cleaning solution, and leaves respondents able to answer positively or negatively.
By eliminating any biased wording, you take out your own opinions and leave the answer wide open for respondents.
Your other option would be to re-frame the question, while adding another option so your survey remains balanced. Consider these two questions:
How helpful is our new cleaning solution?
What about our new cleaning solution hasn’t met your needs?
On their own, these questions are biased. When set side-by-side, they provide balance.
Provide a Balanced Scale
Your next step is using a balanced scale when creating your closed-ended survey questions.
When posing questions on a balanced scale, you ask respondents to answer a question based on a balanced ratings system. For example, your question might be:
Rate your experience with our new cleaning solution:
The choices you provide are very dissatisfied, dissatisfied, neither satisfied or dissatisfied, satisfied, very satisfied.
This is a balanced scale because there are two options on each side of neutral – one moving in the positive direction and one moving in the negative direction.
In a balanced scale, both the negative and positive categories must be equal. If they aren’t, you might end up with survey bias because you are leading respondents to a particular answer.
The mid-point must be between to equal sides to avoid “forcing” respondents to answer in a way they don’t really feel. This can create a sub-conscious bias.
Keep your scale balanced so you don’t get inaccurate results or misleading data that ruins the accuracy of your survey. (tweet this)
How do you know what kind of scale to use? First, more categories aren’t always the best scenario. Give respondents too many choices, and you again run the risk of unreliable data because the choices are so overwhelming, the respondent just picks an answer.
When it comes to balanced scales, less is often better as long as there is enough difference between the choices, and the positives and negatives are balanced.
Your categories need to be distinctive to avoid data problems, but not so far apart that respondents wished there was another choice.
For the most reliable and usable data, keep your survey balanced.
Whether you take all bias out of your questions, or you offer two alternatives, one positive and one negative, you allow your respondents the freedom to answer truthfully about how they really feel.
To achieve balance in a survey, keep all of your own thoughts and opinions out of your questions so you can get true and accurate responses.
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