Free Text questions asking for respondents to comment can provide valuable information in a survey. However, there are some factors that should be considered when deciding on the use of free text type questions.
- The aims and objectives of the survey are important when considering free text questions. For example, free text questions may be very relevant and important in a SWOT Analysis or a Leadership Team survey where strategic direction is being considered.
- The nature of the survey audience and their relationship with the organization is important. How close the relationship the respondent has with the organisation will affect their likelihood of answering free text questions. For example, customers making a one off purchase will be less inclined to answer many free text questions.
- Analysing free text can be time consuming so you need to be prepared to invest the time to review and analyze the responses.
- Dissatisfied respondents can sometimes be more likely to write free text comments than those who are satisfied.
- Be careful when isolated comments are received. Look for trends when an anlyzing free text comments.
- Free Text questions can cause respondents to disengage and abandon the survey, particularly where the relationship with the respondent is not close or when unnecessary, or too many, free text questions are asked.
- If several free text type questions are being asked, then make sure to add page breaks and avoid the situation of having many free text questions on the one page. respondents can become frustrated if they write many comments and lose their comments because are interrupted for some reason.
Free text comments can be sought in different ways.
- Choose an Answer Type of "Free Text". A specific free text question can be created, allowing respondents to .
- "Allow participant comments" on individual Rating Scale and Multiple Choice Questions. In most surveys we suggest using the the option of "Allow participant comment". That way respondents can add comments at the time they answer a question. This gives respondents a timely opportunity to add comments. The responses are attached to the data which makes analysis easier. Otherwise, respondents may forget to add them at a later time.
"Allow participant comment" is an option when adding survey questions (statements)