I see a lot of questionnaires. A lot of questions. Questions that do nothing but prolong the time respondents need to focus to get through. Questions that create no useful output and won’t be used for anything but a long, boring report. Questions creating fatigue and frustration for respondents even before the most important questions are asked.
I’m not accusing insights professionals or influencers in the organization of consciously making things complex. It’s just - they would like to know. Or because they haven’t really thought about what questions the reporting needs to answer and so just include a little bit more to make sure everything is covered.
Questions asked just because someone would like to know or haven’t made clear what they need to know are often characterized as more explorative. But I dare say that sometimes it’s actually just sloppy.
While we can all sympathize with someone taking the easy path when designing a questionnaire (not least considering the immense amount of stress market researchers face), it just doesn’t create actionable insights.
I’m glad you asked.
It’s because respondents are human. That means they a) have a certain attention span they are willing to donate to your survey, and b) because they are only able to stay unbiased and credible for so long.
The fact is there will always be more questions. Always. But actionable insights come from having a laser focus on what key challenges and KPIs your research is investigating.
So you need to kill your darlings.
Let me help you find the right mindset.
To make high quality questionnaires you need to think of a minimum viable setup. Respondents reply way more credible on question 1 to 10 than they do on question 50-60.
So, as it has almost become a trinity prayer in all lines of business to ask why, what and how, so you should ask yourself regarding your market research:
It’s a good overall setting and context to frame your thinking around; to imagine standing with the results from the survey and asking yourself how will I use this? What kind of resistance will it bring and what kind of story must I create to make it actionable?
To be a good questionnaire builder who can frame a market challenge to serve the organization and stakeholders in the best possible way, you need to understand values and KPIs. You need to be clear on your role and why less is more when you deliver the insights and story on a given challenge.
You must limit the curiosity to the top business challenges and picture yourself and the outcome served with a perfect storyline to inspire stakeholders.
Imagine the end before you start.
In short, here’s what you need to do to be a top-tier questionnaire builder that lowers complexity and increase actionability in your market research:
If (and when) you nail these areas and embody the framework things will be simpler. Questionnaires will be better, shorter and conclusions will be clearer.