What Makes A Good Online Questionnaire

Philip Cleave
October 24, 2012

Great questionnaire design is crucial to leading respondents to answer the questions in it and thus provide the data needed. The question of what makes a good online questionnaire is often discussed to help enhance the efficiency of questionnaires used online to gather feedback and information.

The first feature necessary for a successful online questionnaire is that it should focus on action, and the aim should be to improve the performance in the first place.

The second feature, or rather approach to help develop online questionnaires is to start not from the beginning, by composing the questionnaire, but from the end. That is, by considering the results that researchers want to obtain and have them all seen by people across the organisation.

An online questionnaire can be made more effective if its developers bear in mind that it should be short, as long surveys often lead to low response rates and hence to unreliable data.

A good online questionnaire should ask respondents only about their own experiences. Respondents should have first hand experience relevant to the questionnaire.

Online questionnaires should always include the emotional element. Asking respondents how they feel about the company conducting the survey by means of the questionnaire is a great way of involving them.

In trying to establish customer satisfaction, an online questionnaire should be aimed at achieving competitive comparisons. The goal should be to find out how to stay ahead of the competition with the aid of the feedback obtained by the online questionnaire.

A successful online questionnaire is also characterised by the correct timing. It should not be a recurring experience, it should be offered when the experience of products or services is still recent and fresh in the minds of respondents.

Simplicity is paramount. It is not a good policy to use specialised jargon, three letter acronyms, convoluted sentences. They can confuse respondents and discourage them.

To obtain a good online questionnaire, researchers should ensure that the data collected is representative enough. The feedback obtained from respondents should be representative of the customer base which is targeted.

Then it is the turn of the follow up. When the online questionnaire asks for feedback, this raises respondents’ hopes that action will be taken. So the follow up is tantamount to meeting these expectations. Failure to follow up the questionnaire is a sign of lack of respect for respondents’ views.

The feedback from an online questionnaire should be integrated with the operational and financial data. It should always be remembered that the reason to undertake the gathering of feedback is to achieve performance improvements and in this way manage to improve financial performance.

Finally, a good online questionnaire provides the foundations for the obtaining of reliable information from targeted audience groups. It can help a company to achieve a realistic awareness of the extent of customer satisfaction with its products or services, as well as problem areas in which actions should be undertaken to improve things in order to improve the overall servicing of customers.


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