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Survey Design — Begin with the End in Mind

Many people think that surveys are just a bunch of questions, but they’re not. Every survey is a culmination of a challenging seven-step process. And each step of that process poses unique challenges to researchers. After all, sound business decisions much come from high quality information.

And here is a seven-step process that you can use to ensure you create a high-quality survey that will produce more accurate and informative insights:

  1. Establish your goals and objectives – A good survey research project must start with clearly defined goals and objectives. Create project goals and answer the questions: what is unknown?; what has already been done; what decisions will be made based on the result?; what do you think the results will look like?’ and what if you’re wrong? What if the results are inconclusive?
  2. Determine your audience – Contacting the right mix of respondents is critical to an accurate outcome — just as important as asking the right questions.
  3. Design your questions – Use question design best practices to minimize bias and optimize the quality of response.
  4. Do a pilot test of your survey – Always conduct a pilot test with a small group prior to launching the survey. Look for misunderstandings, extremely unexpected results, technology problems, and also evaluate the time it takes a typical person to complete the survey. Update and improve your survey. This process will help you catch problems before they become costly mistakes.
  5. Launch the survey – Many modern survey projects are launched via email and completed online. Above all, make sure your email invitations are accurate, genuine and compelling. Even the best survey will fall flat if people don’t bother to take it.
  6. Analyze the results – Prepare to analyze the data when you are developing the questions. Use techniques such as cross-tabbing and weighting to understand and contextualize data.
  7. Communicate the results to others – Action may never be taken unless others know about your survey discoveries. Communicating results clearly and efficiently is the key to a compelling argument for taking action.

Kyle LaMalfa, Best Practices Manager and Loyalty Expert, Allegiance