Of Course Yes, Maybe No

How much attention do you pay to the choices that are presented to you while answering questions in a survey? Do you wonder what impact your survey answers could have on you? If there was one new thing that I learnt during my Social Sabbatical in Tunis in a short span of time, it was about how to apply logical thinking while framing survey questions and choices, and what to be aware of, while answering them.

I am someone for whom life is very simple. Most of the times my choices are binary. Either I do something, or I don’t. Either I attend an event, or I don’t. More often than not, I made swift decisions and move on. Consistent with my simplicity, I often find survey questions annoying and stupid. For a question referring to an action which has only 2 outcomes — the occurrence of an outcome or the lack of it, why do they add choices which create ambiguity? For example, a question such as ‘Will you attend this event?’, the only possible outcomes are Yes or No; why complicate it by providing a third option called Maybe?

Surveys are devoid of emotions. They don’t have a human face to them. We don’t know who processes our answers and who makes decisions. There may not even be a person behind it; it could be an algorithm. Many times, we are anonymous to the recipient. All of this could result in our taking surveys lightly and going through the motions just for the sake of it.

During my Sabbatical, I had the pleasure to meet Saïd Ben Jlili, the founder of a Sousse-based company called Branper, which provides solutions for customer care and satisfaction. Part of his work is coming up with various kinds of customer surveys. He was tasked with producing surveys for students who had applied for the training program conducted by the nonprofit for which I worked. I found him to be a pleasant, passionate entrepreneur, willing to share with you what he knows. In this blog I will share with you some tips I learnt from Said, and some of my own reflections on the topic thereafter.

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