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Advantages and Disadvantages of Open-Ended Survey Questions

Tired of Yes/No, Aggree/Disagree, and other pre-determined survey responses? Ask effective open-ended survey questions and get detailed insights into customer feedback in their own words.    

"Every answer is an invitation to a new question." - Elie Wiesel

In the realm of surveys, questions hold the key to unlocking a treasure trove of insights. As businesses strive to gather valuable customer feedback data, the choice between open-ended and closed-ended survey questions becomes a pivotal moment.

While closed-ended survey questions increase the chances of getting a response and offer quantifiable data, open-ended questions compel respondents to give voice to their thoughts and share their perspectives and experiences in their own words.

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Unrestricted, detailed, and qualitative, open-ended questions offer an in-depth insight into the mind of the respondent, allowing businesses to capture their experience more effectively. 

 Yet, like every coin, open-ended survey questions also come with two sides- a set of advantages and challenges for businesses to navigate cautiously to make the most of open-ended surveys. 

In this blog post, we embark on a journey to explore the advantages and disadvantages of open-ended survey questions, unraveling the potential rewards and intricacies that come along with open-ended surveys and how to navigate the, efficiently.

Table of Content

What are Open-Ended Survey Questions

An open-ended question refers to a question in which options are not provided to your customers to choose their answers. Rather, it is informative in nature and enables your customers to express their viewpoints through freestyle answers which may be in the form of sentences, records, and stories. As the name suggests, customers while filling the open-ended survey questions are open to give any feedback in their own words.

You can choose different types of survey questions while designing your feedback form. You can choose open-ended as well as closed-ended questions considering the advantages and disadvantages of both. Let us review here about open-ended questions.

Advantages of Open-Ended Questions

There are some useful advantages of open-ended questions especially when you need to collect rich and high-quality data. Let’s review them here.

Advantages of Open-Ended Questions

1. Can provide detailed information

Open-ended questions help a lot in providing a piece of more detailed information. Whenever you want to gather details of any aspect, for instance, the experience of any particular service provided by the company; open-ended questions are the best ones to have in your feedback form.

2. Give real customer insights

Open-ended questions enable you to get real customer insights regarding your products/services and their experience in their own words. You get to know their perceptions, opinions, attitudes towards your brand.

3. Allows an infinite range of answers

Unlike closed-ended questions, the open-ended questions have no limit to answers. Customers are free to write what they feel and you get to have rich data with some unexpected aspects of your products and services.

4. Enables to obtain demographic information

Open-ended questions help you to obtain demographic and personal information of the customers like name, age, gender, phone number etc. which you can use to segment your products and target a particular demographic group. It also helps you to contact your customers for sales and marketing purposes whenever needed.

5. Provide rich qualitative data

Open-ended questions provide you rich data from diverse customers. It enables you to gather viewpoints, opinions and customer perspectives about your organization.

6. Enhanced customer satisfaction

When you get to know how your customers actually feel about you and what they want from your products and services, you take better decisions regarding your product and marketing thus enhancing customer satisfaction.

Disadvantages of Open-Ended Questions

Despite being a good source to collect real customer insights, open-ended questions hold some major drawbacks. Let’s review them here.

Disadvantages of Open-Ended Questions

1. Time-consuming

One of the main disadvantages of the open-ended questions is that it takes time for the customers to write feedback in their own words. Due to this, the whole process becomes lengthy and time-consuming.

2. Low response rate

As you know, everybody is busy with his own stuff and nobody prefers to spend much time in writing and filling the feedback forms. Therefore, the response rate of surveys with open-ended questions is anytime low as compared to the surveys with closed-ended questions.

3. Difficult to analyze and interpret data

Although the customer feedback data received through open-ended questions is rich, yet it would be difficult for you to analyze and interpret all the data because customers would be having diverse thoughts and will provide the feedback in their own way. So it will be obviously challenging to interpret all the data and make meaningful reports.

4. Not a good way to find out quantitative statistics

You cannot categorize with ease the data generated through open-ended questions to find out quantitative information. So, open-ended questions are not a good option if you want to ascertain quantitative statistics through customer feedback.

5. Can gather a lot of irrelevant data

Open-ended questions enable the customers to provide freestyle answers in their own words and every person has his own way of expressing his/her feelings. So, it is always a higher possibility to capture irrelevant data which may not be useful for the business.


To sum up, we can say that if you want to have exact customer insights about their feelings, attitudes and perspectives towards your products, services, and the organization, open-ended questions can serve the purpose just as line managers are taught to use open questions to encourage their team members to open up. But if you want to quickly obtain quantitative statistics of your customer feedback, open-ended questions are not a good choice. An ideal survey would have a mix of both open-ended and close-ended questions. Read here about the advantages and disadvantages of closed-ended questions.

With Zonka Feedback, you can fully customize your feedback form using an online survey builder and choose from over 30+ feedback question types.

Nikhil Dawer

Written by Nikhil Dawer

Oct 15, 2019

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