Making surveys more enjoyable

At the end of every questionnaire SSI asks people how satisfied they were with the survey experience, using a 5-star rating. If they rate the survey high or low, we ask participants why they say that. When we look at the comments from people who ranked their survey experience a 5-star one*, some patterns emerge about what it is that contributes to a really good survey experience.

About a quarter of the comments fall into the general “it was good” category. After excluding those, an interest in or affinity with the topic is the most often given reason for satisfaction, mentioned by a third of the group. “Fun”, “interesting” or “different” accounts for another third, and quick, easy or short most of the other responses. There is an additional 10% who appreciate the opportunity to learn, or notice that the survey offers a different experience. As we have seen before when we review these responses, the reward is rarely mentioned as a reason – yet rewards are what we focus on most when thinking about why people take surveys or why they continue to take them.

*500 responses randomly selected from recent 5-star scores.

What can we do about this?

It may seem that we have little or no control over the most important ingredient mentioned here: an interest in or affinity with the survey topic. But is there an opportunity to make the topic more relatable via the words we use to describe and introduce it, without introducing bias?

Making the survey more fun and interesting doesn’t necessarily mean we need more graphics and videos: we can integrate gamification techniques via the wording we use and how we design questions. There are many sources of advice on how to get started via the research work we and other companies have done on this topic.

Finally, making the questionnaire easier and shorter is within our control, if we think about clarity of instructions, simple vocabulary, and well-positioned buttons, boxes and other visual elements – and importantly, keeping questionnaires shorter, especially for today’s mobile survey-taker.

Why does this matter?

When we provide a more enjoyable survey-taking experience we keep more people engaged in research, improving project feasibility and importantly, improving coverage of our target populations. This leads of course to more reliable data upon which to base our business decisions.

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One thought on “Making surveys more enjoyable

  1. Great post, Jackie. Nothing like data to make researchers pay attention! And a good reminder that when we survey people to whom topic relevance may be naturally weaker (non-users, lapsed users, potential users) that we tell them clearly why their opinions are so important.

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