Questionnaires and surveys help companies learn about their employees, customers, vendors and contractors. For example, employee satisfaction surveys help management improve morale and retention, and customer satisfaction surveys help improve customer service. Companies can administer questionnaires in a variety of ways, including face-to-face, by phone, online and on paper. Before creating a questionnaire, companies should analyze their audiences to determine their preferred method or provide multiple methods of completing the questionnaire for optimal results. Online and paper questionnaires are best when results should remain anonymous.


The written questionnaire is the simplest method. It requires the user to write responses to the questions. Companies may distribute written questionnaires at employee trainings, mail them to recently terminated employees for candid feedback about their work experience, mail them to vendors to help improve relations or include them in product packaging for customers to send back in a postage-paid envelope. The written questionnaire is a good option for people who are not comfortable with technology and who communicate better in writing as opposed to verbally. The downside to the written questionnaire is aggregation of data. Depending on the intended use, someone may need to transcribe answers into a database.


Although online questionnaires take more work to set up, their advantage is the ability to export data to a spreadsheet for further analysis. Unless the questionnaire includes fields for the user to enter additional comments, the online questionnaire may produce the most limited responses. Several companies, like Zoomerang, SurveyGizmo and Survey Monkey, offer free survey help and customization.


Face-to-face questionnaires are the most personal, so results may not be as candid or truthful as written or online questionnaires. A successful face-to-face questionnaire must be conducted like a conversation rather than an interrogation. Face-to-face questionnaires may be the cheapest in terms of materials used, but they are time-consuming. Like written surveys, they, too, require aggregation of data and manual entry into a database for further analysis.


Phone surveys may be done in one of two ways. The caller may use a toll-free number and answer questions using a touch-tone phone, or the company may call questionnaire participants to ask them questions. Like a face-to-face questionnaire, a successful phone questionnaire must be conducted like a conversation rather than an interrogation. Phone surveys may be the most expensive method for conducting questionnaires, depending on the company's long-distance charges and the location of questionnaire participants. Depending on the method used, phone questionnaires may also require aggregation of data.