How to compile a questionnaire

Questionnaires are used for a variety of reasons - to gather information, to survey opinions or attitudes, to measure customer satisfaction, or to drive market research. But although sophisticated questionnaires usually require professional expertise to compile, administer, analyse, and interpret, you can construct simple instruments for surveys, interviews, and focus groups by following these guidelines...

1. Be clear about what you're looking for.

Before you begin designing any questions, articulate clearly what need or problem you want to address using the information you intend to gather from the survey. Why are you doing the evaluation? What do you hope to accomplish? For example, questionnaires can measure attitudes, market trends, consumption patterns, beliefs or expectations about your services or products, the effect of competition, media, etc. Having a clear focus will help you frame your questions.

2. Select the appropriate method.

How will you administer your questionnaire - by post, telephone, fax, personal interview, the Web, e-mail? Each method has disadvantages and advantages relating to issues such as speed, cost, ability to reach a scattered sample, response rate, and interviewer bias. A combination of methods may be considered, such as using the post to elicit basic data, and following up with phone interviews to explore some issues in greater depth.

3. Select and define your sample.

To whom will the questionnaire be administered? Whose views are you seeking? Consider clients, customers and non-customers, age, sex, socio-economic groupings, and the sources of names, addresses and telephone numbers. Will you be sampling randomly or targeting a specific group or strata?

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