Skill level: Intermediate/advanced


Surveying is a method to obtain information and opinions from various demographics. There are two main types of surveys:

  • Quantitative surveys collect measurable and verifiable data.
  • Qualitative surveys collect opinions.

Most surveys are intended to be analyzed mathematically and are a combination of both quantitative and qualitative.

The Likert Scale was created so that qualitative data can be analyzed mathematically. The format of a typical Likert scale is as follows:

  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neither agree nor disagree
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly agree

Surveys may use various types of media. In the past, mailed and door-to-door surveys were popular. Telephone, mall contact, and Internet surveys have now become the norm.

Internet surveys can be broken into two main groups: social media and survey site. Social media surveys are conducted through venues like FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and are presented to the subject.  Survey sites such as Survey Monkey and organizations’ survey sites require respondents to go to the survey.

Designing and conducting a survey that will deliver quality information requires an understanding of some of the key challenges:

  • Determining the sample size
  • Creating a survey with non-leading questions
  • Demographic stratification
  • Correlated samples



  • Provides insight into customer thought process
  • May provide information that cannot be gained elsewhere
  • Satisfaction surveys can signal a problem before other methods

How to Use

  • Step 1.  Determine what you need to know.
  • Step 2.  Write questions that are not leading but collect the information you need.
  • Step 3.  Determine what method is best to collect the data.
  • Step 4.  Publish the survey to the survey takers.
  • Step 5.  Collect results and analyze them.

Relevant Definitions

Not Applicable


A company with a high turnover rate seeks to determine why its employees are leaving. All employees are required to complete a survey and are given 10 minutes of their work day to do so.

The survey asks employees to rate each of the following on a 1-5 Likert Scale: pay, medical insurance, vacation time, their supervisor, the working conditions, and the type of work.  Employees are also required to fill out basic information such as gender, age, and number of years with the company. A roster of employees was maintained to ensure 100% participation.

Analyzing the results reveals:

  • 92 percent of the returned surveys are usable (filled out, complete, and readable)
  • 87 percent of all employees thought unfavorably about the health insurance plan
  • 71 percent thought unfavorably about the chance for promotion

The company conducted root cause analysis to determine why survey responses were unfavorable for health insurance and promotion opportunities. Results of the root cause analysis led to the implementation of focused, improved offerings.

To assess whether the changes had the desired impact, the company conducted a second survey six months later. The subsequent survey showed that the two areas had improved significantly.


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