A common instrument to communicate with your customer is a questionnaire, in which subjects answer a series of questions.
However, questionnaire design is a long process that demands careful attention. Design begins with an understanding of the capabilities of a questionnaire and how they can help your research. If it is determined that a questionnaire is to be used, the greatest care goes into the planning of the objectives.
Questionnaires are like any scientific experiment. One does not collect data and then see if they found something interesting. One forms a hypothesis and an experiment that will help prove or disprove the hypothesis.
Questionnaires are frequently used in quantitative marketing research and social research. They are a valuable method of collecting a wide range of information from a large number of individuals, often referred to as respondents. Adequate questionnaire construction is critical to the success of a survey. Inappropriate questions, incorrect ordering of questions, incorrect scaling, or bad questionnaire format can make the survey valueless, as it may not accurately reflect the views and opinions of the participants. A useful method for checking a questionnaire and making sure it is accurately capturing the intended information is to pretest among a smaller subset of target respondents.
Types of questions that can be used:
1.Contingency questions – A question that is answered only if the respondent gives a particular response to a previous question. This avoids asking questions of people that do not apply to them (for example, asking men if they have ever been pregnant).
2.Matrix questions – Identical response categories are assigned to multiple questions. The questions are placed one under the other, forming a matrix with response categories along the top and a list of questions down the side. This is an efficient use of page space and respondents’ time.
3.Closed ended questions – Respondents’ answers are limited to a fixed set of responses. Most scales are closed ended. Other types of closed ended questions include:
Yes/no questions – The respondent answers with a “yes” or a “no”.
Multiple choice – The respondent has several option from which to choose.
Scaled questions – Responses are graded on a continuum (example : rate the appearance of the product on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most preferred appearance). Examples of types of scales include the Likert scale, semantic differential scale, and rank-order scale (See scale for a complete list of scaling techniques).
4.Open ended questions – No options or predefined categories are suggested. The respondent supplies their own answer without being constrained by a fixed set of possible responses. Examples of types of open ended questions include:
• Completely unstructured – For example, “What is your opinion of questionnaires?”
• Word association – Words are presented and the respondent mentions the first word that comes to mind.
• Sentence completion – Respondents complete an incomplete sentence. For example, “The most important consideration in my decision to buy a new house is . . .”
• Story completion – Respondents complete an incomplete story.
• Picture completion – Respondents fill in an empty conversation balloon.
• Thematic apperception test – Respondents explain a picture or make up a story about what they think is happening in the picture
Advantages of using this method
- The researcher is able to contact large numbers of people quickly, easily and efficiently using a postal questionnaire (since all he / she has to do is identify the group that will be targeted and post them the list of questions).
- Questionnaires are relatively quick and easy to create, code and interpret (especially if closed questions are used). In addition, the respondent – not the researcher – does the time-consuming part of completing the questionnaire.
- A questionnaire is easy to standardise. For example, every respondent is asked the same question in the same way. The researcher, therefore, can be sure that everyone in the sample answers exactly the same questions, which makes this a very reliable method of research
- Questionnaires can be used to explore potentially embarrassing areas more easily than other methods. The questionnaire can be completed in privacy. This increases the chances of people answering questions honestly because they are not intimidated by the presence of a researcher.
Thank you for reading these words,