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Open-ended vs. Closed-ended Questions in Surveys

Open-ended vs. Closed-ended Questions in Surveys

Whether you have a website that you want to improve, or you are looking for suggestions to improve a product that you sell. Although you are ready to take things to the next level, you have no idea where to even begin. The best course of action in this case is to leverage the power of surveys to enhance your knowledge of your customers. Surveys provide you direct feedback, straight from the horse’s mouth. As a result, you are left with no doubt while implementing the suggestions you receive. However, when it comes to conceptualizing these surveys, you might be torn between the choices that are in front of you – whether to ask open-ended survey questions or close-ended survey questions. If you haven’t been able to make up your mind and are still stuck in this dilemma, reading this article will surely make your decision easier. 

What are Open-Ended Questions?

Open-ended questions provide an opportunity for respondents to express themselves completely. They are especially useful when you are looking for qualitative feedback and are the most suitable when you don’t know what type of responses the respondents will come up with. In short, open-ended questions allow you to gain a perspective when you have none to begin with.

If you want to know what is an example of an open-ended question, we have one for you:

What can we do to serve you better?

In this question, you can force the respondent to introspect and come up with a response that can be extremely useful to you. For example, they can say that they wished your customer service was better. 

If you have multiple surveys with similar answers, you can improve your customer service and enhance user experience overall. 

Similarly, there are countless examples of open-ended questions that can go a long way in helping you improve your understanding of your customers.

What are Close Ended Questions?

Some entrepreneurs are clueless about surveys and want to know what is closed questionnaire is and how it can benefit them. For the uninitiated, close-ended questions are the ones that come with either a yes/no response or a multiple-choice response. Therefore, the time taken to answer such questions is considerably less, making these questions highly effective when put in front of respondents with limited time on their hands. Unlike open-ended questions that can take 5-10 minutes to answer, close-ended questions can be answered in a matter of seconds. So, if you have a good idea about your respondents’ thinking patterns, you can use close-ended questions. However, you need to make sure that you provide relevant choices to get the desired information.

Comparison of Open-Ended and Close-Ended Questions Based on Different Factors

There are different factors that influence the overall value of open-ended and close-ended questions:

Knowledge About Customers

When you have no idea about what your customers are thinking, you won’t be able to provide them with the right options for a close-ended question. In this scenario, open-ended questions are the most suitable. But when you know the possibilities of answers that your respondents can come up with, it is better to ask close-ended questions.

Level of Detail

In most cases, close-ended questions only provide you with an indication of what a customer is thinking. There is also a likelihood that respondents are choosing a certain option because it is the closest to their answer (and not the actual answer). Therefore, if you seek a high level of detail, you should choose open-ended questions.

Time Limitation

Open-ended questions take a lot of time to answer. So, if you think your customers have a time constraint, it is better to opt for close-ended questions or a hybrid option. 

Final Thoughts

Both open and close-ended questions have their own place in a survey questionnaire. Based on the different factors mentioned above and your specific goals, you should choose the most appropriate question type for your customers. In some cases, a combination of both types of questions can also work well.