There’s no doubt that custom variables offer a great deal of benefits to users–from personalized survey email invitations to passing data values to subsequent survey questions.

However, when approached with the need for data about a specific group from a large number of respondents, researchers look to custom variables as a tried and true research tool.

What exactly are custom variables?

Some tend to shy away from custom variables, but there is a reason why experts in the research field find this feature invaluable. First, let’s take a step back and define custom variables in its most simple terms. Imagine that each custom variable is an empty pocket used to store survey data. As respondents answer questions, their data—such as demographic information, location, purchase history, or even behavioral information, and much more—fill up these empty pockets, carrying this data throughout the rest of the survey. Custom variables capture and attach the information entered to the respondent’s profile. Once the data is captured, the survey becomes more personalized based on the respondent’s previous answers.

Getting the Data

Consider this instance—a company has stores across four cities in the US: Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Miami. Customer satisfaction responses have been collected from all four cities and every time a city is entered by the respondent, it is stored in a custom variable, let’s say {Custom Variable 2}.

However, now the branch manager in San Francisco wants to view reports only from their city.

All that needs to be done is simply filter the record, which can be done in four simple steps:

 1. Login to QuestionPro, select the survey and click on “Reporting”.

2. Under Dashboard, you’ll notice the “Filter Data” section on the top of the page.

3. In the first drop-down menu, select “System Variable.” In the second drop-down menu, select the Custom Variable that was used to capture the information—in our example on the cities, it was {Custom Variable 2}.

 

 4. In the next section, simply add the custom variable characteristic from which you are looking to filter and extract data. 

 

After these four steps, you will find yourself with a filtered dashboard report, with data from only the Custom Variable group that you selected. For our hypothetical company, they will see data from only their San Francisco store visitors! In addition, this data can also be exported to Excel for a deeper analysis.

 

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