Survey Methods

January, 2019

Survey Methodology is guided by principles of gathering information from a section of the population to represent your intended audience. Ranging from simple polls to detailed questionnaires and interviews, the survey methods provide unique insights through the survey result’s analysis and interpretations. Survey methods are used in various fields like research, healthcare, ICT, manufacturing, BFSI and other industry verticals.

The entire survey process is a balanced approach that needs to be followed to understand your respondents who represent your target population. Having a checklist on the process, allows better time management, analysis and interpretation of the results. The list should include but not limited to the below points:

  • Clarify the purpose and goals of the survey

  • Formulate the goals

  • Identify the target audience for sampling

  • Choose the survey method

  • Write the questionnaire/interview questions

  • Test run the questionnaire for feedback and improve/revise it accordingly

  • Provide the finalized questionnaire to the sample audience to answer

  • Store and manage the completed survey answers

  • Process, analyze and interpret the stored data

  • Conclude and report the survey results

Here is a brief overview on the most effective types of surveys

Broadly, surveys can be performed in three ways:

  • Mail surveys: surveys that are self-administered

  • Personal interviews: a face-to-face interview with respondents

  • Telephonic surveys: questions are read to the respondents

The popularity and ease of the web-based online surveys makes them highly suitable for organizations who are time, cost and effort constrained.

Advantages of Survey Method

  • Compared to other methods like direct observation, experimentation etc. surveys yield a broader range of information. They contribute to the overall marketing strategies adopted by businesses through information on the attitudes, perspectives and socio-economic characteristics etc. of the sampled demographics.

  • Questionnaires are faster and cheaper than observations, personal interviews

  • Easy to administer and execute

  • Collected data is precise and reliable

  • Reduces the biases than can creep in by the researchers

  • It is relatively simple to analyze, quote and interrelate the data obtained by survey method

Disadvantages of Survey Method 

  • Respondents are unwilling to provide information due to lack of data security and personal information safety assurance from the researchers

  • Memory lapses, lack of knowledge and inability of the respondents to provide information for their actions

  • False information provided due to human biases, ego or personal reasons

  • Different perspective by the respondents for the same question can result in different results

How to overcome the limitations of Survey Method

  • Take care during framing and phrasing of questions.

  • Have trained personnel to handle the data gathering process who will observe the subtle verbal/nonverbal reactions of the respondents to the questions

  • Data interpretations need to be based on understanding the inherent cautious nature of the replies to the questions especially related to feelings, money and personal interests (questions related to health, finance, social biases and religion etc.)

  • Consider the results in relative terms rather than absolute terms

Concluding a survey is the last step in the survey methods. While this is often mistaken for a summary, it may include important points from the entire survey. But this section provides information on the result of the survey, the possible outcomes and plan of action that can be undertaken. A successful survey can lead to better insights on the products and services in turn leading to ROI and sales.

– Shantha Kumari,
Sr. Technical Writer,
Infoholic Research