Prepare for your first survey

Here are 5 steps that will help you create a good survey that delivers a high response rate and actionable data

If you are planning to send out your first survey in the near future, there are a few things worth considering before you start. Distributing a survey need not be a science.

But it's important that the answers you receive provide a realistic picture of what you want to know more about. Here are 5 points that help you implement a good survey that delivers a high response rate and useful results.

1. Identify the people who should respond

In order to be able to use the responses to your survey productively, you need to ensure that your questions are being put to the right people. Do the preparatory work necessary to ensure that the people you are asking are the same people who know something about the topic you are asking about.

Once you know who yo ask, you can decide on the best ways to contact them. Most target groups can be contacted using various methods and channels, so it's important to choose the channels through which you expect to reach them most effectively. It's a good idea to use more than one channel, if possible.


2. Find out what you need to know

Before you start choosing your questions, you should determine what the survey is designed to enable you to do. What is it that you specifically need to know? And what conclusions do you want to be able to draw from the survey?

If the survey results will be used by various internal stakeholders, it's important to ensure that everyone agrees on its purpose before embarking on the questions and developing the survey. Once everyone agrees on the purpose of the survey, it becomes easier to formulate the questions and keep the questionnaire short and precise.

3. Only ask the questions necessary to get the information you need

When you need to send out a survey to customers or users anyway, it can be tempting to sneak in a few extra questions that go beyond the main purpose of the survey. Our advice is: don't do it.

The extra questions are only fillers and the more questions respondents have to work through, the more difficult it is to get them to provide complete answers. This is particularly true if respondents find some of the questions irrelevant. The best surveys are those that get straight to the point and only ask about things that link directly to the purpose of the survey.


4. Only ask about things that can be changed

When you ask a customer or user about something, you simultaneously create an expectation that you will be able to change what you are asking about.

For example, if you ask how satisfied a customer is with the opening hours of your store, you should expect that the customer who is unsatisfied with the opening hours will expect you to be able to change them. Why else would you ask? If you cannot change what you are asking about, then don't ask.

5. Make sure you get the right reports

Good reports are an essential outcome of a good survey. In order to be able to act on the knowledge generated by the survey, you need to make sure that you process the data correctly and convert the information into useful knowledge that will benefit your whole organisation. Even before starting to construct your survey, it's beneficial to consider the following:

  • Who will need access to the data being generated by the survey?
  • Can you work with the data in the way you want to and make different parts of the survey accessible to the parts of the organisation that need the information?
  • How should the results be presented? Can your system make the data accessible in a comprehensible way without you having to do all the work? 

Some people prefer to see the dry numbers; others like a visual presentation of the data. Choose what works best for the recipients.


Acquiring feedback before your first study

We would very much like to discuss your first survey with you and provide feedback. So if you would like to know more about how you can work with evaluations and surveys, you are most welcome to contact us.

Attend one of our courses

You are also welcome to attend one of our training courses on surveys and methodology. The courses are free to SurveyXact customers. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced survey administrator, we offer courses to support the work before, during and after your first survey.

Andreas Barfoed-Høj

Business Psychologist (cand.psych)


Xact By Rambøll

M +45 51 61 20 41