Market Research Questionnaire: Which Questionnaire Format?

Customers often ask us,

Under what circumstances do you prefer multiple choice surveys or fill in the blank surveys? Are multiple choice surveys more (mis)leading?

In general, I’m a big fan of closed-ended questions, which are generally multiple choice.

Are they misleading?  That’s a REALLY important question.

They are, if you don’t know what you’re doing and you write bad questions.  And “loading” questions or writing “leading” questions can actually cost you money.


  • Because the bottom line is that you need to know what people think.
  • The more accurately you find that out, the more money you’re going to make:
  • Knowing exactly what people want, what they’ll pay, when they’re satisfied (and when they’re not) can double, triple, or even quadruple your profits.

So you’ve GOT to write good questions.

The thing about “leading” questions is that it’s often not obvious when a question is “leading” or “loaded.”  Sometimes, they’re really tough to spot, particularly when you’re writing questions about your own products and services.

Here are some tips to avoid that problem:

  1. Use neutral language,  avoiding any terms might get an emotional response.  After you’ve drafted your survey, make a pass through it JUST to look for strong language that might “lead” someone.
  2. Balance your response options.  If you’re asking people whether they agree or disagree with a statement, make it “Agree strongly, Agree, Disagree, Disagree Strongly,” not “Agree strongly, Agree, Disagree.”  You want both “sides” to have the same number of responses.
  3. Review, review, review.  Go through the survey yourself, then put the survey away for a couple of days, then come back and look at it again.  Then, ask a couple of other folks to look it over for you and get their input.
  4. Once you’ve reviewed it, pretest it.  Get a small “subsample” of your customers (20 or so is usually enough), have them take the survey, then give them a few questions that ask THEM whether they thought anything was leading, whether they saw any problems with the survey, and so forth.

Have more questions?  Just ask MySurveyExpert !

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