Importance of Unbiased Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions

The aim of your customer satisfaction surveys should be to accurately capture the sentiments of your customers. Asking inappropriate questions or questions which are biased or leading will result in skewed, inaccurate results which can lead to expensive business decision mistakes.

What are Biased Questions?

Biased survey questions use words and composition in a way that influences a respondent’s answer. Sometimes this is done intentionally, but most often this occurs as a result of poor survey question design and evaluation.

Leading Questions

Leading questions use language and structure that leads a respondent toward a particular answer. At first glance such questions can often appear to be relevant and reasonable but in fact they are pushing specific responses. Here are a couple of examples.

  • How much did you enjoy our wonderful new service?
  • Are you looking forward to our great new store opening?

In both of these examples leading statements have been included (‘wonderful new service’ and ‘great new store’). Adjectives which lead the respondent (such as ‘wonderful’ and ‘great’) should be avoided. When composing survey questions its worth testing them to ensure that they are not leading responses.

Loaded Questions

Loaded questions tend to force respondents to answer in a way that may not accurately indicate their true opinion or experience. Here’s an example.

  • Where do you like to go on vacation?

Asking this question assumes that the survey participant takes vacations, which may not be the case. This can result in respondents providing inaccurate and non-representative answers. It’s always best to identify and avoid loaded questions.

Two Questions in One

Sometimes called double-barrelled survey questions, this form survey question mistake challenges respondents by effectively asking two questions at the same time. Survey questions should always be written in a way that examines just one thing at a time. Here’s an example.

  • How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the product and service that you have received?

It should be clear that this question is asking for feedback regarding a product and service. If a customer is satisfied with the product while being dissatisfied with the service how can they accurately answer this question? This question should be presented as two very clear and concise questions in order to elicit genuinely representative feedback.

Absolute Questions

Absolute questions tend to ask for yes / no answers. These can result in bias as respondents are not able to provide more representative feedback. Here’s an example:

  • Are you always happy with the service we provide? (Yes / No)

Using the word ‘always’ means that many respondents are likely to answer ‘No’, even if they are actually happy most of the time. Absolute questions often use the words ‘always’, ‘all’, ‘every’, ‘ever’. A question like this would best be asked in a non-absolute manner, allowing the respondent to perhaps choose their answer from a scale.

Confusing Questions

Confusing or complex questions will lead to bias as the responses will be affected by the confusion and lack of understanding. Poor grammar, question structure and technical jargon can result in confusing questions. Here’s an example:

  • Do you think its possible or is it impossible to improve the performance of the abc-123?

This is clearly a confusing question which assumes that the respondent has some knowledge of what an ‘abc-123’ actually is. This will not provide the feedback sought.

Test Your Survey Questions

It’s not a simple or trivial task to compose survey questions which will deliver unbiased, representative customer responses. When composing questions it’s always a good idea to test and evaluate them. Here are some tips.

  1. Review your questions to ensure that they will not bias responses.
  2. Ensure that answer options cover all possible responses.
  3. Make questions as short and simple as possible.
  4. Try to avoid making participants think more than they need to.
  5. Test your survey question on some trial respondents and invite their feedback.

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