Soliciting consumer feedback is a critical part of the product design and development process. After all, how will you know what tweaks need to be made to your product prototype if you never ask your target consumers about their experience with it? However, soliciting consumer feedback is easier said than done. Surveys can be an excellent way to reach your customers. They tend to be cost effective, and with survey administration via email, mail, or mobile devices, you can easily reach faraway consumers. Furthermore, a broad range of data can be collected, and with survey software, data analysis has never been easier. However, any survey is only as good as its questions. How can you develop valuable survey questions to get more valuable consumer feedback? Be sure to keep the following in mind.

Pay attention to length

As a general rule of thumb, you want to make sure that consumers can complete a survey in around 5 to 10 minutes. That typically means no more than 40 questions. If for whatever reason you do need to ask more than 40 questions, you might want to consider rewarding the consumers for the time and effort it took them to complete the survey. For example, you might offer every participant an entry into a drawing for a chance to win a prize.

Remember, order matters

The order of your survey questions matters, and it matters significantly. First and foremost, you will want to put all demographic questions first. This is because people tend to drop off answering questions at the end of a survey. If you leave your demographic questions for last, you might not get that information, which is bound to be critical. Secondly, make sure your survey questions follow a logical thought pattern. That means starting out with broad questions first and gradually moving into more specific questions. If you delve right into highly specific questions, you might confuse the consumer, so it is far better to gradually ease into a topic.

Be aware of how you are phrasing questions

A good question that is poorly phrased will wreak absolute havoc on your survey results and could very well prevent you from getting the information you need. It isn’t just what you ask; it is how you ask it. You don’t want to inadvertently coerce your consumers into answering a question a certain way by implying that there is a right answer to the question or making using of assumptive language. When phrasing survey questions, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Avoid leading questions. There is a reason lawyers can’t ask leading questions in court! It is critical that your questions are objective. Leading questions are inherently biased and will skew the results of your survey.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Don’t make assumptions about how consumers will answer the question. For example, let’s say you are testing a new piece of software with a focus group. A question like, “what was your favorite part about the software,” assumes that the consumer liked the software and had a positive experience with it. Don’t make those kinds of assumptions — perhaps the consumer had a horrible experience using the software and didn’t like anything about it.
  • Avoid coercive language. When crafting a survey, don’t try to coerce consumers into answering the way you want them to. Remember, feedback is only useful and viable when it accurately reflects the actual wants, needs, and feelings of the consumers. In most cases, coercive language is subtle and inadvertent, but it can have a big impact, so always double check to make sure that all language used is objective and neutral.

The bottom line? A well-crafted, well-thought-out survey can be an excellent way to collect valuable consumer input for the product design process.

Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm with strengths in software development, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial design. If you are interested in engineering a new product or updating an existing product, contact us at 1-877-206-5001 or request your free consultation today.