Close-Ended vs Open-Ended Questions: Full Guide

The complete guide to creating close-ended and open-ended questions.

What’s the difference between close-ended vs. open-ended questions? If you’re conducting a customer survey, understanding these two common question types is critical, since they each provide unique data that you can use to drive business decisions.

In today’s competitive market, brands should always seek to improve their overall customer experience. Across all touchpoints, today’s customers are looking for exceptional experiences, and it all starts with listening to your customers. Customer surveys can help you gain new perspectives and insights about how your audience feels about your brand and the products or services you provide.

By asking the right type of questions, you can cultivate high-quality data you can use to guide your brand in every facet, from marketing to product development and so much more. Use the following guide to the difference between close-ended vs. open-ended questions so that you can make the most of your next customer survey.

What are close-ended questions?

Close-ended questions are restrictive in nature—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. These questions provide respondents with a fixed set of choices to select from, so they’re easy to answer quickly.

Close-ended questions can come in a variety of forms. You can ask a close-ended question with multiple choice answers, checkboxes, ranking questions, and more. Remember, though, that this question type does not allow for unique or unanticipated responses. Instead, respondents must choose from a list of pre-selected options.

Examples of close-ended questions

There are countless close-ended questions you can ask a survey respondent. If you’re conducting a customer experience survey and want to generate hard data about your audience’s experience with your brand, products, or services, here are some close-ended questions you could ask:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our brand/product/service to your friends, family, or colleagues?
  • How would you rate your recent buying experience with our brand?
  • What is your age?
  • How did you hear about our product?

When to use close-ended questions

While close-ended questions don’t cultivate the wealth of unique, insightful data that open-ended ones do, they’re still useful in a variety of ways. You can use close-ended questions in the following situations:

  • When you have an uninterested audience: While your customers are hopefully highly interested in your brand and the products and services you provide, sometimes survey respondents simply aren’t interested or are distracted. If you anticipate an uninterested audience, or one that’s simply too busy to answer all your survey questions, remember that close-ended questions are easy to complete. Because all the possible answers are already outlined, respondents have a much easier job since they don’t have to come up with responses themselves.
  • When you need quantifiable data: Close-ended questions are ideal for cultivating hard-data statistics—this is one of the key differences between close-ended vs. open-ended questions. Close-ended questions can generate simple yes/no answers that can easily be transformed into statistics.
  • When you need to categorize respondents: Close-ended questions are conclusive in nature, helping researchers categorize respondents into groups based on the answers they choose. If you’re conducting demographic studies, close-ended questions are a valuable tool that can segment groups into categories like age, gender, employment status, and more.

What are open-ended questions?

The primary differences between close-ended vs. open-ended questions is in their scope. These questions are exploratory in nature, giving respondents a chance to share their perspective and feelings about any topic. Unlike close-ended questions, open-ended questions provide researchers with rich, qualitative data.

Open-ended questions allow you to ask “why” and “how” questions to your audience. They provide a platform for conversation, and researchers should capitalize with follow-up questions to understand the thought process of respondents. These questions not only lead to better insights into the minds of customers, they also build trust and rapport.

If you’re crafting a survey like a customer experience questionnaire, using voice data collection solutions like Voiceform gives your customers a chance to provide in-depth, detailed information straight from their minds. As you get to know more about your prospects and their wants and needs, you can foster a positive relationship—one that leads to customer loyalty and repeat business for your brand.

Examples of open-ended questions

As you design a customer survey, use open-ended questions to inspire conversations. Craft questions that can’t be answered with just one word. Here are some examples of conversation-starting questions:

  • How does our product/service solve a problem you have?
  • What did you like about the overall buying experience you had with our brand?
  • What options or features could we add to our product/service to make your experience better?
  • Why do you feel our product/service is worth the cost?

When to use open-ended questions

Open-ended questions are useful when you need to collect in-depth responses from your audience. If you’re cultivating feedback from customers, use open-ended questions in the following situations:

  • When you need qualitative data: One of the big differences between close-ended vs. open-ended questions is the type of data they generate. Ask open-ended questions when you want insight into a customer’s personal views and perspectives.
  • When you have ample time to collect feedback: Asking open-ended questions can be time-consuming. While open-ended questions are traditionally best for small groups, since each answer can be so detailed, new data gathering solutions are changing things for the better. Voiceform’s voice data collection tools help researchers accumulate high-quality voice data that feels like a conversation. With automatic insights like sentiment analysis, topic extraction, and more, you’ll save hundreds of hours on customer feedback analysis.

Voiceform’s voice data solutions make it easy to ask the right questions, the right way.

Understanding the differences between close-ended vs. open-ended questions can help you craft a high-quality survey that delves into the minds of your customers. Whether you’re launching a new product, refreshing your marketing strategy or anything else, asking the right questions makes it possible for you to generate insights that help you better serve both existing and potential customers.

Close- and open-ended questions can be asked and answered easily through Voiceform’s voice data platform. With voice responses, it’s never been easier to seamlessly cultivate the data you need to guide your brand and deliver the best customer experience. Request a free demo today!

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