Dale Carnegie, in his 1936 classic “ How to win friends and Influence People” advised, “Ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.” Asking good questions shows genuine interest and elicit honest answers.
That said, we all know that customers love asking questions, especially when they are about to make a purchase. But can a business owner ask questions to clients and customers? You certainly can, but not as directly as the customers do. “Questionnaires” do all the asking for businesses!
What Are Questionnaires?
Questionnaires are web-based surveys that contain a series of questions asked with the intent of gathering information from the respondents. In some cases, these are used to deliver information to the employees and potential customers.
In business marketing, online questionnaires play an important role. It helps in bringing about significant improvements in the business processes. It can be used to get information about an organization's target audience and collect customer feedback about a particular product/service.
To learn more about the importance of questionnaires, read the blog.
Questionnaires Vs. Surveys
Questionnaires are often confused with surveys. Although both belong to the same category, some significant differences set them apart.
A questionnaire is a set of questions used for research to derive qualitative(open-ended questions) and quantitative(closed-ended questions) data.
Survey is a broader term used to describe the questionnaire, its method, mode of sharing, and analysis. Surveys mostly consist of closed-ended questions shared with a limited number of respondents. Look for various survey questions examples for a deeper understanding of the concept.
A survey will always have a questionnaire. However, a survey may not justify the objective of a questionnaire.
In this article, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of questionnaires so that you can weigh the pros and cons of this resource to avoid decision making paralysis.
12 Advantages of Questionnaires
1. Help Understand Customer
A good questionnaire is just like a real conversation. You can use both close-ended and open-ended questions to design a questionnaire. Marketers mostly prefer more open-ended questions to get detailed information.
Close-one-word answers with predefined responses like “yes” or “no” don't get much input. However, they are necessary to gather quantitative data from respondents. Open-ended questions help in getting in-depth answers. The benefit is that you actually start learning about your customers.
If a business thinks of conducting questionnaires or surveys to gather customer feedback traditionally, they would have to first take into account the material costs, printing, calls, interviews cost, and even the time it will consume.
Questionnaires designed using online tools are the most cost-efficient way to gain demographic information and learn about customers’ experience with the brand. These tools allow you to create professional-looking questionnaires using ready-made templates and questions, reducing the expenses incurred on research and human resources.
All you need to do is open the tool, select questions, customize the questionnaire, and share it with your target audience, all in just a few clicks.
3. Targeted Surveys
Not all the customers are your target audience. Online software helps you send questionnaires to a target audience. Based on your choice of customers, you can select and place questions in a particular format. Using the ready-made templates, you can create customer satisfaction questionnaires, demographic questionnaires, employee feedback questionnaires, and more.
Although you can ask as many questions you want, however, marketers have to limit the questions to a maximum of 10. This ensures that respondents don't get offended and abandon midway.
However, if there is still something left to be asked, you can create a subtopic and shoot another survey. After all, online surveys are cheap and can be shared easily.
4. Fast Results
Questionnaires are the simplest and fastest means of collecting data. Create a questionnaire and in the matter of clicks, share it with your target audience. Many online tools help you create questionnaires optimized for all devices, such that your target audience can access them from anywhere and anytime.
Depending on customer reach and their willingness to participate, you’ll receive the results in the shortest possible time.
What’s best? There are online questionnaire software whose smart reporting gives you insights into customer feedback in real-time. Smart reporting helps you understand customer details like name, the mode used to answer the questions, and when it was filled.
Read More: How to Create Online Questionnaire Easily
If you have ever circulated physical surveys, you might be able to remember how many you are able to distribute in a day? 500, 1000, or maybe 5000. That’s it.
How many face-to-face interviews can you conduct in a day? Maximum 50, maybe 60.
But when you have the sky to touch, this number seems nothing. Online questionnaires can be distributed to an endless number of people in a click, which is one of the major benefits of questionnaires.
You can share the question. Your team can collaborate via shared inboxes and your agents can instantly resolve customer queries via live chat.Your team can collaborate via shared inboxes and your agents can instantly resolve customer queries via live chat. Questionnaire on social media, send to your customers via an email, which enhances its customer reach. Or, simply embed them on your website or blog as Popups, Sidebar or In-app questionnaires, so that users can give feedback before having to leave the website.
6. Market Research
Knowing exactly what your customer wants is vital to ensure business success. But how can you know it? The online questionnaires meant for market research help you understand your customers' expectations better.
These questionnaires give you insights and data about:
- Customers' awareness levels and perception about products
- Detailed perspective into customer’s buying habits
- Identify new target audience segments and demographics.
Business owners can interpret the collected data along with the necessary information about the target customers like age, gender, marital status, number of children (if any), which brand they have been using, and their preferred mode of purchase.
7. Smart Analysis
Many questionnaires and surveys extract quantitative data, which is very easy to analyze. You don’t have to be a tech magnet or scientist to analyze the feedback. All you need is an online questionnaire tool to analyze survey results like a pro.
The online tools have in-built features that promote easy analysis of results by giving you a bird’s-eye view on details of the participants, their name, the mode of answering, and more in the form of daily, weekly, and monthly reports.
The best part is that you can compare the latest data with the previous data to track changes and measure if the user experience has improved over the measured time.
8. Simple to Administer
Face-to-face interviews, telephonic interviews, written or in print are the common ways companies used to administer questionnaires. However, in this fast-paced life, nobody has the capability to spare extra time in these exhausting and demanding modes of questionnaires.
Companies now have to tweak their strategy and send online questionnaires or surveys to learn about their customers, employees, vendors, and more. The major benefit of an online survey or questionnaire is that you can export data in the excel sheets for further analysis.
9. Uniform Format
Questionnaires were created as a great means of collecting information about an individual’s beliefs, behavior, and attitudes.
The best questionnaires are written and designed in a standardized format with clear instructions. They are administered in such a manner that all the users are asked precisely the same questions placed identically. All this is made possible with the use of an online questionnaire creator.
Standardization of questionnaires comes as a huge benefit for companies as they can record and analyze the responses uniformly. They are found to be more reliable in comparison with any other mode of the questionnaire as well.
10. Give Follow-Up Opportunities
“On a scale of 0-10, how likely would you recommend [company name] to a friend or colleague?”
“Customer support made it easy for me to handle my issue -
Strongly disagree/Disagree/Neutral/Somewhat agree/Agree/Strongly Agree”
“How would you rate your experience with your purchase?”
You have collected the feedback from the customers or your staff via surveys or questionnaires, but didn’t act on the results. You lose the opportunity to learn more about them.
If you think that some answers were from a different perspective, try understanding the reason behind it. This will not only keep the conversation ball rolling but keep the customers engaged. Also, the follow-up will help you establish an action plan to address key issues and share your survey specific initiatives with them.
People are extremely busy today (at least they think they are). It is not fair to ask them to complete a questionnaire at times when something urgent is bothering their mind.
Online questionnaires are shared across social media, sent via emails, and can be embedded on the website. Respondents can choose their convenient time to give answers.
Research has shown that taking the questionnaires during the no pressure moments elicit truthful answers. If required, you can set a certain date and time when the tool automatically stops collecting responses.
Oprah Winfrey once said, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”
When answering questionnaires, most people dread answering truthfully, fearing what if somebody identifies them for sharing their negative opinions or views. The thought of unknown repercussions scares them off.
The online questionnaire creator ensures the anonymity of the respondents, keeping respondents’ identities private. Respecting privacy provides better data as respondents feel free and comfortable to share their heart.
Questionnaires have many benefits, but they have some drawbacks too. Knowing the pitfalls may be helpful in making the best use of this research tool. Let’s understand the flip side of questionnaires:
12 Disadvantages of Questionnaires
1. Incorrect Feedback
One of the biggest challenges marketers face when conducting surveys is that respondents give dishonest answers.
The catch here is the respondents are not lying. Instead, subconsciously, they feel that whatever input they are giving in the questionnaire is true and will benefit the survey taker.
Here are some other reasons respondents are not honest in filling questionnaires:
- They want to build a self-worth
- They are repulsive towards sensitive topics
- They want to give socially desirable answers
- They want to drive the survey outcome in their favor.
As a preventive measure, assure the participant their privacy is protected, no matter what. Make them feel valued, regardless of their opinion.
2. Reluctance Towards Sensitive Topics
Surveys or questionnaires that include questions about income, voting, sexual behaviors, drug abuse, etc. are generally considered sensitive. The response rate of such questionnaires is nearly low.
Those who do participate may not answer honestly. The major reason is the natural instinct of people that holds them back. Marketers can, however, win customers’ confidence and make them feel comfortable with the questionnaires by choosing a tool that ensures privacy, anonymity, and confidentiality of the survey data.
3. Ignorance of Questions
Who cares if I don’t answer?
In questionnaires, there are high chances that respondents may ignore certain questions or don’t feel them important enough to give answers.
Let us try to understand the reasons why many respondents ignore questions:
- The intent of the question is not clear
- Respondents find the question irrelevant to them
- The question seems difficult to answer
- Questionnaire’s design and layout is not appealing
Respondents mostly ignore questions they don’t feel necessary. Before creating a questionnaire, it is important to understand the target audience. This way, you can eliminate the questions that aren’t required and keep the questionnaire short.
4. Neglects Emotions
Gone are the days when customers were buying products. Now they are investing in companies who understand their emotions and what they are going through.
Online questionnaires can address everything a customer is expecting. But, unfortunately, it can’t capture what they are feeling. Since the questions are not asked face-to-face or in-person, marketers cannot get a hang on customer’s emotional responses and instant reactions.
Interpreting emotions from data can be a tough call. Instead, you can seek customers responses through NPS questions or rating scale questions to understand the depth of their expectations from your brand.
5. Different Interpretations
In comparison with in-depth interviews, questionnaires are found to be a more efficient, cheaper, and feasible method of conducting customer research. Sending a questionnaire online saves the time of both parties. Moreover, the customer can choose his/her convenient time to fill the questionnaire.
However, not conducting in-person interviews can be a problem for marketers. Not asking the questions face-to-face can lead to different interpretations of the questions by the respondents, since there is no one to explain the meaning behind them. As a result, they’ll not be able to provide accurate answers and the inputs will be mostly self-opinionated.
To avoid such a situation, it is wise to keep the questions simple and easy to understand.
6. Survey Fatigue
Have you ever bombarded your audience with different question types where one question is multiple choice and the other consists of a huge grid of radio buttons? You might be surprised to know that for some respondents all this poses a substantial mental burden, and they may be demotivated enough to leave the questionnaire in between.
Survey fatigue is a major problem with questionnaires. Poorly designed surveys with convoluted questions tend to increase the non-response rate. It will not be possible for you to create a successful strategy with the limited data you receive.
7. Lack of Accessibility
Questionnaires are designed to reach masses. However, if they are not designed to be compatible with all devices then some users may not be able to access them.
Online questionnaires software that allows customization options can make the survey user-friendly. To make online surveys a practical solution for all categories of users, the design should be kept simple, both in terms of design and programming.
The layout should be tested for accessibility for such users. It should have only one question with minimum answer choices, and few links are placed on a page.
8. Superficial Responses
When a questionnaire is created, the maker wants the user to thoroughly read the question to understand them properly, before choosing the answer. After all, a lot of research and effort is involved in creating the survey.
But does that always happen?
Many times, people skim-read the question and give superficial answers. In simple words, inaccurate or invalid responses are received. Longer surveys tend to repel users because of the time they take to finish, which makes users hurry during its completion.
Experts time and again say that it is best to keep the surveys shorter such that it doesn’t take them more than 7-8 minutes (shorter if possible) to complete the questionnaire.
9. Inaccuracy in Analyzing Open-Ended Questions
Qualitative market research is incomplete without open-ended questions. Asking for additional comments/suggestions is a typical form of open-ended questions in the survey or questionnaire. Open-ended questions inspire answers in sentences, stories, and lists. Basically, you are asking respondents to give answers in their own words.
No doubt, you are going to elicit more information. But, how are you going to analyze the results? Their responses are mostly based on their feelings, knowledge, and understanding.
Marketers who lack the ability to probe deeper into the respondent’s answers miss the opportunity to gain valuable information.
10. Use of Complicated Language
Asking a question is easy. But how can one be sure the respondent understood the question the way you wanted them to?
The words used in the survey questions play an important role in ensuring the success of a questionnaire. However, achieving the right balance can be a task, especially when you are focused on gathering data.
Here are three common flaws seen in the survey questions
- Use of highly technical terms
- Inaccurate terminologies
- Abstruse language
- Writing options biased towards a specific response
When not understood properly, respondents may not be able to provide accurate answers, even if they want to.
It is not possible to explain the intent behind the question and provide additional information that may help the respondent understand things at a similar level.
11. Survey May Appear Impersonal
When conducting a questionnaire, you’ll be surprised to see how much value you can gain from the customer. When creating questionnaires, it's easy to sound too formal and even robotic.
What’s wrong with that? Robotic questions will only fetch robotic answers and maybe no answers at all.
The best measure to avoid this situation is to use a language that you’d use when asking them questions in person.
Personalizing the surveys gives the customer the impression that you value their opinions and time.
12. Getting Too Personal
Personalization has a direct impact on the response rates and data quality of the surveys or questionnaires. However, it may happen that for the sake of giving the respondent a personalized experience, you may get too personal.
Many researches have shown that when people are asked experience-based or knowledge-based questions they are more likely to participate in the questionnaires. However, if you ask them for personal information related to their family, friends, or personal finances in a questionnaire , they are most likely to get turned off and abandon the questionnaires. Not only that, such an attempt gives a bad impression of the brand as well.
Why Use Online Questionnaire Software?
The importance of customer experience cannot be emphasized enough. Questionnaires or surveys are an economical and practical way to gauge customer’s perception and related feelings.
Businesses need a tool that eases the process of data gathering and handling. For instance, ProProfs Survey Maker is a reliable online questionnaire software that allows the fastest data collection at minimal costs.
The tool offers a question library that allows you to create customizable questionnaires, surveys, quizzes, and polls. You can easily share them with a wider audience. You are given the ability to change the questions according to the situations where it is used.
Now that you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of questionnaires and what you can do to turn the negative aspects of questionnaires into positives, it's time you incorporate a robust survey tool.
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