You’ve heard that it’s a great idea to get to know what your customer thinks about your brand, product or service. You know that if only you can get into their thoughts, you’d be able to serve them better. And if you can really serve them better, one thing is sure: You’ll turn those customers into raving fans.

So how do you go about getting into their thoughts? How do you know what they like about your product or service? How do you know what they dislike or hate? You can get all those bits of information by having a survey. But what type of survey should you have if you want to REALLY get a broader view or a deeper reach into your customer’s thought?

Well, most would recommend that you go for surveys that have open-ended questions that lead to, you guessed right, open-ended responses. So if you’ve decided to go with that, let’s walk you through a few things you should know…

What Is An Open Ended Response?

Just to be sure that we are all on the same page, we need to define what we are talking about…

An open-ended response is the type of answer a customer provides to a survey that does NOT restrict them to multiple choice answers or one-word/phrase answers. They usually give the respondent enough room to write what they think in details. They are usually free-form, allowing people to share their true thoughts as much as possible.

To get a good open-ended response, you need to have the right open-ended questions. If you miss that, you might NOT get the kind of feedback that will result in actionable data. That takes us to the next question…

What Are Some Good Examples Of Open Ended Questions?

Before we give you examples of good open-ended questions and why they are good, let’s share a few examples of bad ones and why they are bad…

When did you get your first pet?

This question is an example of a bad one because there can ONLY be one answer for each person. It won’t change if twenty different brands or companies ask the same question.

Who was the most influential person in your hometown when you were a teenager?

This is another bad example for the same reason.

Now let’s change these two bad examples to better open-ended questions (You can get more examples by clicking here)…

How did you feel when you got your first pet and how did it affect your life going forward?

What was it like to be mentored by the most influential person in your hometown as a teenager?

These new examples are good because they make it easy for your respondents to share their peculiar experiences without you leading them to a specific outcome. You are sure to get a depth of responses with questions formatted this way.

What Are Advantages Of Open Ended Questions? 

  1. It is easier for the researcher to know what the respondents truly feel about the questions asked.
  2. The researcher gets “richer” answers that enable him/her to pull out more actionable data from the survey.
  3. The researcher gets a truer picture of the respondents’ position as his/her questions are not leading to preselected options.
  4. A respondent cannot just pick an option out of multiple choices without reading the questions. This compels each respondent to read and understand each question before attempting to answer. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of getting answers that aren’t a true reflection of what your respondents’ positions are.

What Are Disadvantages Of Open Ended Questions? 

  1. They usually require more time as each respondent would have to put in more effort to answer the questions. And because of this, the likelihood that many will NOT want to participate in your survey increases. If a survey doesn’t have enough respondents, you won’t be able to get data that’s a true representation of your customer base (Visit to see reasons for non-participation in surveys and things you can do about them).
  2. The scope and details given in each answer might vary as widely as a few words to multiple paragraphs. This, in turn, will make collating data and arranging them in such a way that they’ll be useful a lot more difficult.


Getting open-ended responses from your customers will help you gather depths of information that you can’t get in any other way. However, it’s important that you also note the cons associated with it. Do these and you’ll get a great result.


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