When approaching a research question of any kind, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is how you conduct your study. Depending on what specifically you’re hoping to learn and the qualities you hope to glean from your target population, you may choose a quantitative or qualitative approach. If you’re looking to collect opinions, personal insights, or firsthand experiences and narratives from study participants, a qualitative research questionnaire is one method you could use to do so.
While quantitative research provides information that is easy to interpret and derive meaning from—for example, clearly measurable information such as product rating or usage statistics—qualitative data tells you why a user chose that rating and what made them choose one product over another. If you’re working to develop a new product or service to advance your business, creating a qualitative research questionnaire could provide important insight to help ensure you’re offering the most impactful finished product possible.
What is a qualitative research questionnaire?
When working to gain a stronger, more complex understanding of how customers experience the world around them, how they like or use a product, or if a particular service enhanced their lives, qualitative research questionnaires are a great way to achieve your goal. In the business world, this insight can help provide information on things like customer motivation, needs, behaviors, and lifestyles—all of which can be useful in determining how to develop products, services, and resources that simultaneously generate profit and add value to people’s lives.
Simply put, this type of questionnaire is a series of written questions designed to give respondents a chance to explain their perspectives or experiences. Once you know what information you need, you can begin curating your questionnaire. These types of questions should be specific enough that your participants have a clear understanding of what information you want them to provide, but also allow room for them to generate a unique response that elicits in-depth information about them, their lives, and their experiences.
Qualitative questionnaire example
That may sound like a tall order—how do you know which questions will resonate with people, and how do you get them to tap into the information you really need? In short, by carefully curating a series of questions and strategically drilling down with follow-up questions when needed, you’ll have a wealth of information to pull from in no time.
To help you understand how to use a qualitative research questionnaire and the types of questions you should consider including in your own, here are a few tips and examples of questions likely to elicit long-form responses:
Focus on motivation, perception, and experience questions: The benefit of this type of research is that it taps into the wants, needs, and mindset of your customer, and that information can inform business decisions—not just purchase or engagement stats, but the reasons behind those numbers. Ask questions that inspire them to share, like:
- What problem does this product solve in your daily life?
- How could this product be improved to better suit your unique needs?
- What are your perceptions of our brand? In your opinion, how do we compare to X competitors?
Contextualize the questionnaire and its questions: Since your participants are receiving written questions and can’t ask clarifying questions, as they might in a face-to-face interview, be sure you’re thoroughly contextualizing the questionnaire and the questions it includes. Doing so ensures there is no confusion about why a particular topic is being brought up or how they should approach their response.
Start broad, then focus on key points: Be cognizant of the fact that people may not all respond to the same questions with the information you need. With this in mind, consider breaking things into several parts, for example:
- When shopping for a product, what factors most strongly influence your decision about which to buy?
- How do you research products to determine which you want to buy?
- What are the top characteristics you weigh when evaluating a product or brand?
While these questions are all similar, asking variations on a theme increases the likelihood of respondents providing the information you need. Since you can’t ask follow-up questions as you would in an interview, this serves a similar function.
When in doubt, include a follow-up: While some respondents will overshare, there are many others who need a push to fully unpack their thoughts—include that push. By simply adding a “why or why not?” or “explain why you feel that way” follow-up question, you could dramatically improve the impact of your questionnaire.
The exact questions you include will depend heavily on the specific research question you have in mind, but these tips are a great way to ensure your questionnaire returns the most useful and meaningful information for your business or organization.
Pros and cons of qualitative research questionnaires
Every survey method has its strengths and weaknesses, so to make sure this is the right option for you, here is a breakdown of some of the main pros and cons associated with qualitative research questionnaires.
- If you’re in the early stages of developing a product or survey, this method of survey is a great tool for fleshing out the features and characteristics you want the finished product to have.
- If you start your survey and realize it’s unclear or returning the wrong kind of information, it’s easy and inexpensive to modify and rerun.
- If done online, you can find respondents relatively easily and allow them to complete the survey at their leisure, increasing the likelihood of participation and nuance in responses.
- If questionnaires are completed on paper, you may struggle to transcribe handwritten responses. (A voice survey tool like Voiceform that also has transcription capabilities can make this process a whole lot easier.)
- Since respondents are unable to ask clarifying questions, there’s room for misinterpretation and failure to fully engage their response.
Voiceform can make questionnaires easier
If you want to easily collect meaningful insight from your customers, Voiceform provides innovative tools and solutions that make qualitative research and data analysis easier than ever. Just create your questionnaire, share it with your customers, and allow them to effortlessly relay their insight and experience through audio or text—whichever is more comfortable for them. Then let Voiceform collect, transcribe, and prepare your data for export or analysis. Schedule a demo today to begin building your qualitative research questionnaire with Voiceform!