1 to 10, How likely are you to recommend. It is the most annoying question I see in surveys.

STOP!! —– Stop it right now!

Today I’m going to talk about a question I see in surveys a lot which I believe is the most annoying question. This is “on a sliding scale, how likely are you to recommend “insert Business/Product to others” question.

Now, this is going to be controversial as everyone is doing it. Heck, even the survey design template providers have it or something similar to it in their products.  It’s everywhere.

It annoys me to no end and I really wish you’d stop it.

Here are my reasons:

1) It’s a nonsense question.

Why this is the most annoying question to ask Reason 1: It’s a nonsense question.

I don’t believe the question is going to collect what the designers are hoping for.

I signed up for a social media product just before x-mas last year.  About two weeks later I received an email with a quick survey.

It was really quick, it only had one question. “how likely are you to recommend product” to others?   I answered 1

No sooner had I finished the survey; I received another email asking what was it I found so wrong with the product that I would give such a low score.

There was nothing wrong, I like the platform, a lot. But I usually don’t go around saying to people “hey I bought this thing you should go and get it”….. Well not often, anyway.

Surprisingly even for this stay at home recluse, I do speak with people, many people. However, of all the many topics I speak with others about, rarely would the subject of any product/service  comes up.  It really is a niche thing. 

What sort of market guru, really thinks that all people talk about is their new product?

 Really? Get a life!

2) The question isn’t really the right question to ask

Why this is the most annoying question to ask Reason 2: It’s not right question to ask.

If you want to know if the respondent likes the product, ask “Do you like the product?”

Stop trying to infer that recommending is liking. (If that is what you are doing).

It is my opinion, more than likely, the people who ask this question are trying to work out if their product has “a buzz” The bigger the buzz more likely the Dotty from Marketing keeps their job.  

Which leads me on to my next point…

3) The numbers are meaningless

Why this is the most annoying question to ask Reason 3: The numbers are meaningless.

So, what does a 1 or a 10 actually mean?

Does a 1 mean you’ll never ever recommend?

Does a 10 mean you are the type of person who skips from person to person signing the praises of the “product” to any poor bugger who’ll listen? —  Gee, I bet 10’s are fun at parties.

Does a five mean you don’t really care either way or does it mean that you’ll only offer a recommendation when you think it is warranted.  Do we really know?  

Are the increments between each number equal? Does the person who responds as 2 over 1 “likely hood factor” exactly the same as the person who responds as 10 over 9 or 5 over 4?  Do we really know?

It is going to come down to interpretation of the person filling out the questionnaire.  There is a good chance that a person who responded with a 3 is “just as likely” to recommend as another person who responded as a 5.  We just don’t know. 

It is for these reasons why I believe the numbers are meaningless.

I could go on …..

There are other reasons, but they are kind of nerdy and math-y (yes that’s a proper word 😉 ) If i go down this path I will probably going to lose you, so I’ll stop.

There is a better Way!!

Why this is the most annoying question to ask Reason 4: There is a better way

It is my professional opinion a better way to ask this question is instead of using numbers, use your words.

When I design surveys, I use a combination of responses: very unlikely, unlikely, neither unlikely or likely, likely, or very likely.  I may even throw in a more likely or a less likely depending on the actual question. 

It has been my experience that people seem to have a better collective understanding of what these terms mean as opposed to the numbering system.

I will also frame the question so there is no ambiguity as to what situation the respondent may be in. e.g.  I will ask “when talking about about X how likely you are to recommend  *insert product/service*.

Depending on the client, I may even ask “when talking about x how likely are you to recommend “*insert product/service A* over  *insert product/service B*“. 

I believe these types of question leave little doubt in the respondent’s mind what it is you are asking.

OK I am going to wrap it up now.

So please, if you want to know how likely someone is going to recommend your thing. Please by all things good and decent Don’t use numbers.  —- USE YOUR WORDS!!.

Thank you for listening to my rant.

I am Michael thanks for your time and happy researching.

Online Research Matters

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