Designing a customer feedback survey in way that provides and concise data you can use in you business is not always simple.
Using Double Barrelled Questions is a common mistake among survey designers and this post outlines what they are, how to identify them and how to fix them.
- What are Double Barrelled Questions
- Why Double Barrelled Questions are a Problem in Surveys?
- Why Do Double Barrelled Questions Occur?
- Double Barrelled Question Examples
- Please rate the speed and design of our new service website?
- How do you rate the availability and technical competence of our operational staff?
- How well does our company manage the access and security of your systems?
- Please think about all of your experiences with our company: how do you rate our value for money and innovation?
- How to Spot a Double Barrelled Question
- How to Fix Double Barrelled Questions
- Double Barrelled Question FAQ
What are Double Barrelled Questions
Double-barrelled questions are survey questions that ask about two different themes or ideas in the same question but only allow one answer. Here is a simple example:
Why Double Barrelled Questions are a Problem in Surveys?
At first glance this looks like a perfectly simple and rational question to ask.
You want to understand how well the support group is answering questions, so you ask customers about the elements you think might be important: speed and accuracy.
Unfortunately, by combining different ideas in the same question the data you collect has been compromised.
The problem is that the customer can’t answer both ideas with just one response. In practice they end up responding to either the “speed” question or the “accuracy” question.
To make matters worse, when you come to analyse the data you don’t know which question they have answered. And different people will have responded to different questions.
The data you have collected is now a mess of answers to unknown questions.
In many ways the data you have collected is worse than if you hadn’t asked the question at all because it’s confusing and open to mis-interpretation.
Why Do Double Barrelled Questions Occur?
Double barrelled question mostly occur because when companies are designing their survey questions they are trying to keep abide by the survey best practice of having as short a survey as possible.
At the same time they want to collect as much information as possible.
So they start to combine themes and ideas that seem to be the same but are actually different.
Double Barrelled Question Examples
Here are a few example of the sorts of double barrelled questions you will often find in customer surveys.
Please rate the speed and design of our new service website?
Here the question asks about the unrelated ideas of speed AND design.
How do you rate the availability and technical competence of our operational staff?
Here the question asks about the unrelated ideas of availability AND technical competence.
How well does our company manage the access and security of your systems?
This one is a bit more subtle but in the security industry the idea of access and security are very different.
Please think about all of your experiences with our company: how do you rate our value for money and innovation?
Here the question asks about the unrelated ideas of value for money AND innovation.
How to Spot a Double Barrelled Question
The simplest way to spot a double barrelled question is to look for the word “AND”.
Anytime you see “and” in a survey question it’s very likely that you have created a double barrelled question and it needs to be corrected.
Look closely before and after the “and”.
Is it asking about the same theme or idea? If not then you have a double barrelled question and it needs to be rephrased.
Note that sometimes having an “and” is perfectly fine and doesn’t make the question double barrelled at all.
Here is a question with “and” that is not a double barrelled question:
Please rate the access to training courses and workshops we provide.
It might be that training course and workshops are effectively the same thing and so the question is probably okay
How to Fix Double Barrelled Questions
The simplest way to fix a double barrelled question is to simply split it into two questions – one for each of the ideas.
So this question
Becomes these two questions.
If this makes your questionnaire too long, you’ll need to go back to the design process to determine exactly what information you want to collect in your customer feedback survey.
Double Barrelled Question FAQ
Compound questions are survey questions that ask about two different themes or ideas in the same question but only allow one answer. Here is a simple example: “Please rate the speed and accuracy of our response to your support question.”
Notice that we’re asking about two ideas in the same question: speed and accuracy.
They are the same as Double Barrelled questions and suffer from the same issues.