In Part 2 of our Customer Surveys series, we review the difference between closed-ended and open-ended survey questions.
Closed-ended questions are much quicker for survey respondents to interpret and answer because they offer a defined set of response options, or ask for a specific piece of information such as a number or date. On the other hand, open-ended questions are more subjective, allowing respondents to answer in their own narrative style. Open-ended questions are more time-consuming both to answer and to analyze, but can provide a varied array of information to explore.
An example of an open-ended question might be:
“When was the last time you visited OhMySoap, Ltd?”
The respondent can reply in any way they choose. Possible responses might include: “last week”, “1987”, “a few years ago”, or “the last time I needed to buy bubble bath.”
However, you could alternatively create a closed-ended question to capture the same information. This strategy could offer a list of specific months (e.g., Jan 2015, Feb 2015, March 2015, none of the above) or timeframes (e.g. less than one month ago, 1-2 months ago, 3-4 months ago, 6 or more months ago) from which the respondent would choose the most appropriate answer.
The responses for this closed-ended question might look like this:
Both types of questions can be valuable in different circumstances. If you need to generate a statistic, such as a percentage or level of frequency, a closed-ended question with a list of responses can achieve this more effectively. If you’d like to gather descriptions, opinions, or reactions, then open-ended questions provide this flexibility.
Choose your question type based upon the information you wish to collect, your analysis plan, and the way you’d like to use the data.
Missed Part 1? >> Click here to read Customer Surveys Part 1