How to Write Excellent Agree/Disagree Questions

Learn what an agree/disagree question is and how to write them.

Polling customers, clients, employees, and colleagues can provide valuable direction. Whether you’re evaluating employee performance, testing the response to a new product, or finding out what your clients really think, the key to a great survey is asking the right questions. Understanding how to write excellent disagree or agree questions will help you get the information you need from your respondents.

We’ve collected our best tips for writing agree/disagree questions below. Read on to refine your survey skills.

Why ask agree/disagree questions?

Agree/disagree questions usually provide a scale: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, and strongly agree. They can provide useful data points regarding respondent sentiment. For example, you can make a statement like “[Product] meets my expectations,” then provide the agree/disagree scale.

While agree/disagree questions won’t provide detailed feedback, they offer helpful overviews. The more options you provide, the more likely you’ll get specific feedback about the respondent’s feelings.

Refining your approach

Disagree or agree questions use what’s called the Likert scale, which traditionally offers the five options mentioned above. Some survey creators make a seven-point scale, with “slightly agree/disagree” options, while others argue that just three options (agree, neutral, disagree) are sufficient.

The neutral option

Others eliminate the “neutral” option from their surveys. There is always a risk that respondents will simply answer “neutral” or “neither agree nor disagree” just to get the survey over with. It typically draws answers from the “slightly agree/disagree” camp, with about 6 to 23 percent of respondents choosing this option. Neutral options are often chosen when a respondent either doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t have an opinion.

Even though the neutral option may seem like a non-answer, it can still provide important information. If you notice a significant subset of respondents who have no opinion, you may choose to find out why—or take your products or services in a different direction.

Respondent bias

Disagree or agree questions are also subject to respondent bias. In short, people like to be seen as agreeable. People may agree with the question just to be agreeable, rather than answering the question honestly. Furthermore, they might “straight-line” the survey, picking the same answer for every column, regardless of the question. Obviously, this is not ideal when you’re trying to collect important data.

There’s also the possibility that respondents may not understand the question, or have different ideas about what “strongly” and “somewhat” mean.

Solutions

When you’re surveying people, consider using a variety of question types, not just the Likert scale. Combining question types makes it easier for you to get an overall picture of respondent sentiment. Follow up Likert scale disagree or agree questions with short- or long-form responses to elicit specific feedback.

For example, if you ask a series of agree/disagree questions about customer service, allow the respondents to specifically describe their experience at the end. You may find that someone who indicated they have a somewhat positive opinion actually had a great experience, but are hesitant to give top marks unless everything was perfect.

Understanding the potential bias and drawbacks to the Likert scale will help you refine your approach and get the answers you need.

How to write agree/disagree questions

Following the steps below will help you write better targeted survey questions.

Establish your goals

The first step is to establish your goals for the survey. What are you hoping to learn? If you don’t get the responses you’re hoping for, what information and details would help you find solutions? How do you plan to use the information? Who, ideally, will answer your questions?

Develop your questions

Next, develop your questions. It’s important to keep your survey focused on what you need to know—no more, no less. For example, if you’re trying to find out how the customer service experience is working for your customers, don’t ask questions about how they liked the product they bought.

The more focused your survey, the more likely you’ll get quality answers. Longer, meandering surveys risk alienating respondents, causing them to give up along the way.

Follow these tips:

  • Avoid jargon and abbreviations: Your respondents may not be familiar with certain expressions or industry jargon.
  • Don’t use double negatives: Double negatives are confusing. Instead of “I am not unhappy with my purchase,” frame the question positively. “Do you agree or disagree with the following: I am happy with my purchase” is a straightforward question, where it’s easy to parse the meaning and how to respond.
  • Skip leading questions: Be wary of leading your customers to the answers you want. Make sure your questions do not suggest the “right” answer.
  • Keep it concrete: Try to be specific and concrete. “I would be interested in future opportunities for work travel” is more concrete than “I am interested in expanding my role at the company.”

Test your questions and responses

The next step is to test your questions and responses. Sometimes respondents read a question very differently than you intended. Assemble a focus group, whether within your company or from outside participants, and have them give their own feedback on what they think you’re asking. The answers can be illuminating, and will help you understand how well you’re communicating with respondents.

Refine your questions

Finally, it’s time to refine your questions. Once you’ve received feedback and sample answers, you’ll know which questions are clear and which need to be edited. You might decide to eliminate some lines of questioning entirely, if they don’t appear to provide value. When it comes to most surveys, asking five to 10 focused questions is a better approach than asking 40 random ones.

Use Voiceform for your agree/disagree questions

When you need to collect data, Voiceform’s survey platform offers an intuitive interface and rich data analysis options. Whether you’re asking disagree or agree questions or taking another approach, Voiceform has all the tools you require to get the answers you need. Reach out today to learn more about our product and schedule a free demo.

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