Are Your Open Ended Questions Killing Your Response Rates?


I’ve just recently encountered two examples of open ended questions that were so “hard” that I literally blanked out of the survey and closed the tab.  If I bailed on this survey — what did people who had no interest in taking the survey do?  I’m sure they bailed too.

And that is really too bad because both of the survey administrators had ideal issues that required input from others.  There was only one problem — the questions were just too big, too broad and too hard.

How to Get the Answers You’re Looking For

  1. Ask your community. If you have a broad question such as “Who would you like to see as a guest speaker?”  Ask your professional network put the question out there on a social media site.  When people are on social media sites, they are in exploration mode – and so they are more apt to answer broader, more contemplative questions.
  2. Collect the short answers. Now take the answers you’ve collected from your conversations and build those into a list.
  3. Use the list you developed as a survey question. Use the list of responses that you collected and turn that into a multiple choice question.

I’m going into this only because we are all guilty of going to respondents too early in the survey process.   Take the time to explore and test questions before you launch your survey.  It will make a difference in your response rate and the quality of your data.