5 Benefits To Open-Ended Questions For Feedback

    Feedback is one of the most important parts of running a business. Whether you’re looking to get customer thoughts on your latest product/service or if you’re looking to improve training, feedback must be collected.

    It is easy to get feedback with questions that require a scaled set of results like from one to five or ‘most likely’ to ‘not likely’. But these don’t offer you any information other than whether someone enjoyed it or not. If you don’t ask why, then you’ll never know what to improve and what not to. That is why you need open-ended questions in your feedback surveys.

    What Are Open-Ended Questions?

    Open-ended questions are when the respondent is not bound by limits but is instead allowed to give an answer of any length or topic. Therefore, queries that can be counted are often blank spaces on the feedback form and include no hints to what the respondent should put other than the initial question.

    There are some who question the usefulness of open-ended questions, because there can be a tendency for some to give single word answers. However, there are also some really big benefits that make your feedback collection more informative and offer better direction for future projects. Here are some of the benefits that you’ll likely find by including some open-ended queries in your next feedback survey.

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    1. Feedback Provided Is More Insightful

    If you only have a range of answers the respondents can give in feedback, then you’ll never know the true feelings of the audience. For instance, you might find that customers didn’t like the packaging on a product. That identifies the need for a change on the packaging, but what do you change? Without further information, you could get the change wrong and this could lengthen the process of change to make your product more appealing to audiences.

    Open-ended questions allow audiences to be specific when they are giving a response. For instance, they might not like the packaging because some felt it was too big for the product or the colour was wrong for the contents. You can even ask what the audience would change, to see if there is a consensus on perceptions of what you’re getting feedback on.

    2. There Is More Engagement With The Audience

    A simple list response set of questions offers very little engagement with your audience. They can simply run through the feedback form and tick one set of responses without giving much thought to the answers they’re giving. This type of feedback is less valuable to you as a business as it doesn’t really give an honest appreciation of your business’ product/service.

    When using open-ended formats, you can actually engage the audience more fully. It compels them to think more carefully about what they’re saying. It also improves customer return rates as it acts as a reminder to your brand and helps them to come back to you.

    3. They Offer You A Further Insight Into Your Respondent’s Demographics

    When you’re asking respondents to write out their answers, the language and spelling they use can tell you a lot about the characteristics of the respondents. This might give your insight into who is using your products and services and help you formulate better marketing to better target the core set of users of your product/service.

    An example of this is when people use local terms for your products. For instance, in the north of the USA, if you want a carbonated sweetened beverage you ask for pop. If you’re in the south, you should ask for a soda. While these are slight differences, it does tell you where your current marketing strategy is working.

    4. You Can Separate Genuine Respondent’s From Bad Respondent’s

    Sometimes when you send out questionnaires, you can get people who respond without knowing the product/service or are just responding to cause trouble. It doesn’t happen very often, but it can do. These people need to removed as they can skew results and set you on a path that is wrong for your company.

    Those that are generally not really responding to your feedback request often give the same answer to every question. But that isn’t always the case. Another way to tell is by including open-ended questions. Those that don’t really want to respond, will put very little, if anything at all. These are the people that should be removed from your feedback.

    5. It Is More Fun For Staff To Read Responses

    While collection of feedback forms is an important role, it can also be very mundane, and this is when large mistakes can be made. Even computerized, staff can skip important information if they’re only looking at statistics on a screen.

    However, open-ended questions offer your staff a way to really engage with the audience with their responses. They can smile at some of the positive feedback and learn from the negative responses. Therefore, your staff are learning more from the feedback than they would with closed questions.


    Open-ended questions are a valuable tool in your drive to make business improvements. Use them to your advantage to ensure you stay ahead of the competition.

    Read the article:
    French – l’intérêt des questions ouvertes pour obtenir des feedback, click here
    German – einem Online-Fragebogen offene Fragen verwenden, click here
    Portuguese – perguntas abertas em um questionário online, click here