Surveys are among the most common methods many businesses use to gain critical insights into consumer understanding, operations and their performance. Undoubtedly, asking a respondent an open-ended question provides the most valuable data. There’s just one problem: dealing with the complex process of transforming text from open-ended questions and responses into qualitative data that you can use. The answer lies with survey coding.

What Is Survey Coding?

Survey coding is the process of taking open-ended question responses from a survey and sorting them into categories and groups. Once the coding process is complete, you can analyze the categories and open responses similarly to multiple-choice questions or other closed-ended questions. The open-ended answer from a survey question is also called a verbatim or verbatim response. 

When creating a survey, the response options you choose are absolutely essential. Basically, there are two options: closed-ended questions and open-ended questions.

Closed-ended questions include:

  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Yes or no questions
  • Scaled responses
  • Rating responses

Open-ended questions involve asking the respondent to answer a question in their own words using a free-response text box.

Closed-ended questions provide valuable insight from the data analysis. However, there’s no doubt that the data acquired from open-ended questions can provide a solution to the heart of the problem rather than just a broad overview.

The process of survey coding allows researchers to assign numerical codes or values to each category of response. They can then quickly analyze the feedback to pinpoint the most critical insights or solutions.

There are two different ways of dealing with the coding process: the first option is fully automated, and the second option is manual custom coding which market research firms have been doing for years. Fully automatedcoding uses artificial intelligence, whereas manual custom coding is more precise and requires human input, and is best completed by working with a coding system such as Coder. Coder is a leading platform in manual custom coding. It allows coding teams to work productively together and helps structure the coding for more reliable results. Coder also helps the management team handle the many projects that their coding team is working on. Now more than ever, researchers who work in companies not typically tied to coding are beginning to complete their own survey coding due to business needs and higher accuracy probabilities. Manual custom coding by a human is a skill that is acquired over time. The profession requires the coder to possess a fully realized understanding of the nuances of human and coding languages. 

With automated coding, the coding is completed mainly through computer software, such as text analytics. Automated coding is not as precise as manual coding. This change in precision can be attributed to the computer at times being unable to fully understand the intentions of the words. A benefit of automated coding is that a computer can often manage a greater amount of open-ended responses when compared to a human. Automated coding can be completed efficiently and cost-effectively, and the use of computer software reduces coding bias, as the computer will produce the same result repeatedly. CX Inspector is an innovative text analytics software that quickly processes thousands of open-ended comments. 

Benefits of Quality Survey Coding

Quality survey coding from verbatim responses and answers provides many benefits for researchers. With close-ended questions, respondents may only choose from a predetermined set of answers. Their feedback report still provides value, but it doesn’t allow the person answering the question to convey their opinion in a natural, organic way. Again, the answer lies with survey verbatim coding.

Open-Ended Question Analysis

Manual custom coding of verbatim responses allows for a richer and more in-depth analysis of the respondents’ needs, wants, and potential issues, providing valuable information and insights.

Enhanced Business Intelligence

The point of using verbatim coding is to enhance and elevate your business intelligence. When respondents answer open-ended survey questions, it becomes challenging to categorize and sort through the data set, particularly if there are many responses.

Coded qualitative data:

  • Provides critical business insights and value into an organization’s most important practices
  • Makes handling and analyzing large datasets easier and more manageable

You can also pinpoint the most significant values and themes within your research by identifying these categories. .

Survey Coding Best Practices

Identify Necessary Questions Formats

The first step to coding is identifying the necessary category for question formats: will you use close-ended or open-ended questions? Typically, most researchers use a combination of both categories to receive the most in-depth answers possible.

However, no law says you have to use one format or the other. Instead, determine if a single format or a combination of the two will best suit your unique answer needs and the information you’re trying to gain.

Determine Response Categories

Carefully determining your response categories is another good practice when creating a survey code. For instance, close-ended questions limit responses to a preset range of values. In contrast, open-ended questions will require a text field where respondents can type in their thoughts and opinions with no restrictions. You can also use things like scaled answers or even record verbal responses.

Interpret Customer Comments and Open-Ended Responses

Interpreting customer comments is one of the most challenging parts of creating survey codes. Some choose to use third-party services or create an Excel spreadsheet. However, this requires extensive knowledge and education on how to code survey responses.

That’s where we come in. Here at Ascribe, we help simplify and accelerate the process. Our experts can help your organization with any survey coding you require. Each year, we convert hundreds of millions of open-ended text responses into critical data insights gleaned from market research reports.

People Also Ask:

How is questionnaire data coded?

The process for coding questionnaire data depends on the program you want to use. However, the overall method takes questionnaire responses and transforms them into another data format or category. Typically, there’s one number for each value. 

What are the four types of survey questions?

The four types of questions for surveys include:

  1. Open-ended
  2. Close-ended (static)
  3. Close-ended (dynamic)
  4. Task-based

How do you code qualitative questionnaires?

You can use two methods to code qualitative questionnaires: custom and automated. The first choice requires a human to examine the responses carefully and then code them into different groups and values. The second choice uses a computer to create survey codes, which is generally much faster but may not provide the same in-depth feedback.

Contact the Survey Coding Experts at Ascribe

If you’re ready to take your market research to the next level, we’re ready and waiting to help you.

For over 20 years, Ascribe has been serving the world’s top research companies with our professional coding abilities. With our state-of-the-art verbatim analytics software, no business is too big or small for us. We have corporate partners in over 100 countries that trust us to handle their unique coding needs.

Here at Ascribe, we have the experts and the advanced software to help your organization with its survey coding needs. Call us today at 1-877-241-9112 x 55 to learn more or request a demo.