How to Create a Professional Student and Client Survey

Here are tips on creating a survey to garner insights into what your riding lesson students and boarding clients really think.
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Know what you are trying to accomplish before you create a survey.

There are simple rules to implement when creating a survey to get the most from the responses. You know your target group—your students and clients. You know the problem—turnover. You have application tools with which to build a survey. To start, put some time into its planning. Consider why you want to conduct a survey, what it will ask, and define your goals. Knowing your objectives then allows you to work backward in preparation to determine what data will help inform your decisions going forward.

Identify your survey with your logo, company name, images, and website information, for example. Make it look not only branded, but professional.

How questions are asked has a lot to do with the answers you receive. Consider that when putting together a survey, you can either confirm your own biases or learn something new, no matter how uncomfortable the forthcoming information. Asking questions with only Yes-No answers tends to limit thorough data collection. A comment box enables people to offer concerns and opinions, although analysis of comments is challenging for making direct comparisons.

Do you want to enable anonymity or require identification of each respondent? If anonymous, people feel freer to truly say what they feel; with identification, meaningful commentary might be withheld, but you will be able to correlate responses to the individuals in order to address personal concerns.

Phrase questions in clearly stated, understandable and conversational language. When posing multiple choices of answers, make them easy to understand and differentiate between the answers. Survey experts recommend questions that are as short as possible and non-ambiguous. Use words rather than numbers, i.e., designations like “somewhat agree” or “strongly disagree” are better asked qualifiers of preference than asking for a number rating of 1 through 5, for example.

Refrain from asking leading questions or multi-tiered questions. The order of questions also sets the tone of the survey. You’ll want the questions to flow in an inviting way so respondents don’t rush through without careful thought to their answers. Start with easy-to-answer and non-personal questions to jumpstart the participation.

Brevity is a good thing. Resist making the survey too long. Advise in advance the expected length of time to complete the survey; a progress bar is helpful. An incentive—such as a discount on a training session or entry into a drawing—often inspires people to participate in a survey. 

The greater number and the more genuine the responses, the better you’ll be at implementing changes that encourage loyalty of students and clients and that keep your business robust.