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Split surveys that can ask lots of questions but in a manageable format

A long questionnaire deters clients from responding to a client-satisfaction survey (or members of the law department to a morale survey). Even so, some general counsel want to explore how clients or employees feel about a large number of attributes. Is there a way to resolve these competing interests between responder fatigue and surveyor enthusiasm?

Yes, with a split survey. Take a lengthy survey with 20 questions. You can split the questions into two groups and randomly divide the people you send a survey to into two populations. Population one gets questions 1 through 10; population two gets questions 11 through 20. If you have enough respondents from both populations you can combine the results.

One other idea might help. Before you release the final version, send a draft to a small group and ask them to rank all the questions in terms of usefulness of results from them, ease of answering, scope, and clarity. Ask them what additional questions ought to be asked. With that feedback, you might knock out enough questions – while you improve the rest – that a single survey with a manageable number of questions will get the job done (See my post of July 21, 2008: survey methodology with 40 references and 25 internal references.).

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