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Should You Create an Online Survey? We Explain the Benefits & Basic Terms
This is the first article in a four-part series explaining how to implement a great online survey. Read the second article here: 4 Online Survey Tools: Which One is Right for You?
Online survey sample
Why Create an Online Survey?
With online surveys, you can gather a plethora of information about customers and employees faster and with more accuracy than ever before. Data from online surveys can guide you in starting a business, understanding and expanding your current client base, sustaining your existing client base, and obtaining feedback from your employees. When done right, online surveys provide valuable insight into otherwise unseen perspectives.
Benefits of Online Surveys
Eliminate the cost of data entry. Responses do not have to be transferred from paper or interview tapes; they go straight into a database.
Eliminate the cost of editing. The computer can catch many errors, such as missed questions.
Increased anonymity, relative to traditional pencil paper surveys where the respondent is often in the same room or building as those giving the survey
Increased accuracy. Users can feel more at ease, because typically they can access online surveys from the comfort of their own homes. This comfort can allow for more honest and thus more accurate responses.
Higher response rates. Because of the increase anonymity and ease of online surveys, you will be more likely to obtain feedback than through traditional methods, such a pencil-paper surveys, phone surveys, exit interviews with colleagues or member of management, etc.
Precise execution. Online surveys ensure computer-generated randomization patterns and skip logic are followed and applied accurately.
More convenient. Most online survey tools today can be accessed remotely from home computers or even cell phones. This makes it easier and more convenient for users to respond.
Quicker response time. That convenience translates to faster responses.
Website integration. Most survey tools will let you embed surveys created on their site into your existing website. This will allow your users to experience a smooth transition to the survey. They won’t have to leave your site at all!
Data analysis. One of the main differences between more expensive packages and their cheaper counterparts is their ability to help you to analyze the data and understand the meaning behind the results. While most packages provide simple reports, more advanced packages allow cross tabulation to determine data relationships between different sets of questions. Some even allow complex statistical analysis.
Depending on what audience you are trying to target and the type of your business, you need to create customized surveys which will improve the quality of your services. This is a critical issue you need to handle if you are already willing to use surveys to test the market.
There are a lot of programs you can use to do surveys online, and they are quite reliable. Here you can choose the type of questions to use an audience to target. Most of these programs aren’t free, which means you will have to pay a monthly fee, but they are quite reliable. On the other hand, if you aren’t skilled in dealing with this, you can always hire the company to perform a survey instead of you.
One thing is sure; you can’t neglect the importance of surveys because they provide you a valuable insight into your customer’s mind and offer you useful information about the things you need to change.
Common Survey Terms
Skip logic – allows users to skip sets of questions that do not apply to them based on content that they have already answered. This makes for a less frustrating process for the user. Likewise, you can use skip logic to create screening questions, allowing you to screen out respondents whom you might not be interested in targeting.
Piping – allows you to pull answers from one part of a survey into another. Skip logic and piping often go hand in hand.
Randomization – The order of a set of questions, or the set of answers to a given question, can often affect survey responses, and thus the quality of your data. Randomizing the order of particular question or answers will help to eliminate this issue. Likewise, randomizing will make it harder for respondents to go though and select the best choice for all questions.
For example: Say you’re having your employees complete a survey on their satisfaction with your company’s current sexual harassment policy. Let’s face it, your employees are busy. They are going to be reluctant to spend the 5 minutes to complete the survey. If your answer choices are all the same, say A) is always positive B) neutral and C) negative, then your respondents may just choose answer choice A the whole way through in order to get through the survey more quickly. Randomizing the order reduces the likelihood that this will happens, and helps to ensure your users are reading and thinking about the questions. Thus, you’ll be more likely to obtain accurate and insightful data. Likewise, the process of completing the survey won’t seem so mundane!
Double-barreled questions – also called leading questions, or loaded questions. They attempt to tackle more than one issue in a single question. For example: What is the fastest and most convenient mode of transportation for you? (The fastest might not always be the most convenient.)
Tiffany Henderson is currently an I/O psychologist for the Government and the Lead Organizational Consultant for her agency. Working in three different labs/research organizations, she has led teams through implementing multiple online systems/software and e-learning solutions and management information systems.