Thursday, November 23, 2006

Asking Questions Sideways

Crafting a customer survey is not as straightforward as it seems. You shouldn't simply ask the questions you want answered, as I've mentioned. The most valuable information usually comes from analyzing the correlations among the answers to the survey, not from merely looking at the responses to individual questions.

Susan Abbott tells us about sideways questions:
If we really want to find the answer to this question, we are going to have to come at it sideways somehow. Most commercial survey research uses multivariate techniques to tease out these kinds of findings. Like connecting the strength of your agreement with attitudinal statements (e.g."it is important to belong to prestigious business organizations") with your stated likelihood of renewing your membership.

In qualitative research, we cook up exercises of various sorts, instead of just asking the literal question directly. [It's also because most of us really like to play with colored markers and Post-it notes, although that's just a corollary benefit.] Sometimes, we may just ask what you think others do, not what you yourself do.
She goes on to describe how to use the randomized response technique to obtain the answers to uncomfortable personal questions.

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