How to Design a Good Questionnaire

by Rick Suttle; Updated September 26, 2017

The best way to design a good questionnaire is to first determine whom you will be surveying. For example, some companies survey both customers and non-customers. The non-customers are people who are likely candidates for your products and services. Plan to speak with consumers who do the grocery shopping in households. These shoppers are the decision makers for family purchases and can provide you with the information you are seeking. Target business customers in your survey if you sell products or services to business clients.

Step 1

Write down the primary objectives of your survey, according to the International Household Survey Network. Use objectives that are specific and measurable, as these are areas you can improve in your business. For example, list objectives related to customer service, product features or prices, from which customers can rate their satisfaction levels.

Step 2

Write the introduction of your questionnaire, leaving a space for the respondent's name. Explain what the survey is about, then include a disclaimer telling respondents that the information they provide is confidential. Add a sentence asking respondents if they have a few minutes to answer the questions.

Step 3

Start asking questions in order of importance as customers are more likely to be attentive early on. Divide your questions into various topics such as those related to products, pricing and advertising.

Step 4

Number your questions in sequential order so you can easily calculate the results. Use closed-ended responses in 80 percent of your questions, which will provide the respondent with multiple choices. Use various multiple-choice responses such as: "very satisfied," "somewhat satisfied," "neither," "somewhat dissatisfied" and "very dissatisfied". Add open-ended or "fill-in-the-blank" questions to further probe customers about why they answered a certain way. Incorporate rating scales into some questions, such as rating customers' overall satisfaction of your customer service department. Number ratings scales from one to five or one to 10, which will better help you measure responses to questions.

Step 5

Add demographic questions at the end of your questionnaire, which can help you measure results from specific customer groups. Write down questions regarding the respondent's age, income, education and household size.

Step 6

Limit your questionnaire to a length that will take three to five minutes to answer. Test your questionnaire by calling several customers in advance. Tweak your questionnaire as needed to make sure it reads correctly.


  • Check that you cover all of your objectives in the questionnaire. If you work as a market researcher for a company, let other managers or departments review your questionnaire. Keep your questionnaire simple and straightforward. For example, use clear language that everyone can understand. This simple language will increase the accuracy of your customers' responses.

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