How Survey Question Wording Can Skew Responses [Video]


How Survey Question Wording Can Skew Responses [Video]

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Adam Ramshaw
Adam Ramshaw has been helping companies to improve their Net Promoter® and Customer Feedback systems for more than 15 years. He is on a mission to stamp out ineffective processes and bad surveys.
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A simple change in words can influence the response. Choose your words wisely as it may skew your results!

Transcription of this Video

Hi, my name’s Adam Ramshaw. I’m from Genroe.

Today’s customer feedback question is

“How much can one word in the question influence the answer?”

When we write a customer survey, we’re really trying to get a good understanding of what our customers think. So we really want to influence them as little as possible in changing what the score would be, or changing how they would respond.

Let me give you an example of how you might do this.

You might write a question that says,

“Please write how easy it was to contact our service desk, from very easy to very difficult?”

Now you see we have the word “easy” twice in that question, once in the question and once in the answer.

Just by human nature people are more likely to answer closer to the very easy end of the scale than the very difficult.

Skewing the results like this is something that you really don’t want to do. You want to get a clear understanding of what the customer is thinking. You really don’t want to influence them.

A much better way to ask the same question would be to simply say:

“How did you find contacting our service desk, from very easy to very difficult?”

Same idea, but now you’re not influencing people and influencing the response they’re going to give you. So you get much more accurate information.

One final thought to think about when you write questions is to try to be as neutral in the wording and in the lead-in to the question as you possibly can.

Try not to do things like saying:

“We try to provide excellent service. How was our service today?”

By adding that first sentence in you’re going to change the way the customers respond.

You really don’t want to predispose them to answer one way or the other. You want to get that neutral response from the customer.

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