Open-ended questions

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Open-ended questions are a powerful tool for understanding a client. In addition, they also help to understand the consumer better.

Open-ended questions are primarily used in sales. It doesn’t matter if you sell machines or software. Open-ended questions will come in handy. But what exactly are they?

The peculiarity of open-ended questions is that they initially assume detailed answers. It is impossible to answer them “yes” or “no” – they encourage the interlocutor to have a long conversation. By asking open-ended questions to your customers, you automatically motivate them to share their opinion about the product or provide additional information about themselves.

Despite the simplicity of this tool, its effectiveness has been long proven. Open-ended questions can be formulated in different ways, and their submission can also be different: a survey, pop-up forms, emails, questionnaires. You can also embed open-ended questions in one of the purchase confirmation steps, thus further encouraging the user to answer them.

Using open-ended questions helps improve the service or product you provide, but to achieve a desirable result, it’s important to understand exactly what questions will work for you.

Open-ended question examples

The thoughtfulness of the question asked determines the effectiveness of the answer provided. The more correct questions you ask your clients, the more benefit their answers will bring.

Don t assume that any open-ended question will be productive. For each niche and each product, there are several special questions related to it. They are aimed at studying the customer s impressions, wishes, and comments on the product. However, there are several simple open-ended questions that you may find helpful, such as:

  1. What is your name?
  2. How old are you?
  3. What will you do after getting a job in our company?
  4. What are your plans for tonight?
  5. What kind of cuisine do you like?
  6. What is the main thing for you in life?
  7. Why does your product look like this?
  8. What was your college experience like?
  9. How do you feel about home delivery?
  10. Why does everyone think that fast food is bad?
  11. How do you get to the waterfront in your city?
  12. Which specialty is closest to you?
  13. What do you think about corporate ethics?
  14. What products do you buy most often?
  15. Which store are you missing nearby?
  16. Why did you like this show so much?
  17. Do you think it is worth changing something in this product?
  18. Why are you sad?
  19. Which restaurant are we going to today?
  20. Why don t you like this musical style?
  21. What kind of music do you listen to most often?
  22. Why do you like taking pictures so much?
  23. What do you think about the changes in the work schedule?

Each of the listed questions is open-ended and encourages the interlocutor to answer in detail. The information provided by the respondent can be productive for a variety of reasons. First, using open-ended questions when reaching out to customers gives you a deeper understanding of their needs and concerns. After analyzing the received data, you can create a new product and make it more popular. Finally, you will have a reason to make changes to existing products, making them more competitive. A few simple open-ended questions can have a significant impact on the success of your business.

How to ask open-ended questions

No question will help your business if it is not asked correctly. This principle also applies to open questions. To achieve maximum efficiency, it is worth adhering to some rules. They will help you formulate questions more accurately and expand the amount of information received.

Principles that will turn any dialogue into useful data for business.

Use open-ended questions instead of closed-ended questions.

In any dialogue, there is always a question-answer model. During working communication, the interlocutor exchanges questions – most often closed ones. Do you want to receive as much useful information as possible? Learn to turn closed-ended questions into open-ended questions. Instead of “Did you like dinner?” it is better to ask: “How did you like the pasta bolognese?” This question unambiguously prompts you to answer in detail.

Start a dialogue with open-ended questions.

One of the most common mistakes managers and sales representatives make is ending dialogue with an open question. Yes, sometimes this strategy works, but the share of useful information after the conversation turns out to be negligible. Instead, use open-ended questions to start a dialogue – this way, you can significantly increase the amount of information collected. If one sentence leads the interlocutor to another, then the questions you asked were correct.

Be careful

Expect responses to branch dialogue. Always listen to the other person during the conversation. If you want to avoid a specific topic and return to your chosen course, you can always ask questions that guide the conversation in the right direction.

In addition to applying these rules, consider the value of each open-ended question you want to ask in advance. This creates a whole strategy that will get the indicators you need.

Open-ended interview questions.

Using open-ended interview questions is one of the best strategies for finding good people. Open-ended questions will help you find out the information you are interested in about a person and predict their future behavior. Sometimes the smallest detail can tell more than the largest resume. And subsequently, influence the decision. A series of correctly formulated open-ended questions will tell you exactly how a new specialist will behave once in a typical working day scenario.

Here are examples of open-ended questions to use in interviews:

  • Describe your ideal job.
  • Why should we hire you?
  • How do you see yourself in two years?
  • What motivates you?
  • Where do you see your strengths?

What achievements are you particularly proud of?

There are a lot of open-ended interview questions. When planning your strategy for interviewing new hires, you should create your list. Then focus on the specifics of the industry – get the information that is of the greatest value to you.

Open-ended sales questions. Example

Sales are the niche in which open-ended questions are in highest demand. Trouble-free intelligence providers, questions are used across all sales niches, regardless of product type and company size.

Open-ended sales questions have several unique traits. First, they are aimed solely at obtaining information about the client and his impressions. Second, based only on customer responses, you can create an effective marketing strategy in no time.

The following are examples of open-ended questions for trading:

  1. What challenges do you face every day?
  2. How can you influence the current situation?
  3. What tools do you lack to achieve your goal?
  4. Is there a risk that you will not be able to solve the current problem?
  5. What can you say about our cooperation?
  6. What do you think, what is lacking for your specialists to achieve the required result?
  7. How much time do you spend tracking potential customers?
  8. What prompted you to take on this project?
  9. What are your business goals?
  10. What opportunities do you see at the moment?
  11. Do you think our product requires any changes?
  12. How did our product contribute to solving your problem?
  13. Why did you become a client of our company?
  14. What product do you think we should create next?
  15. What challenges are you facing today?
  16. What measures would you take to solve your problems?
  17. How do you rate the suppliers in your service industry?

The answers can make a tangible difference in positive change within your business. This is why open-ended questions are so popular among companies of all sizes.

Open-ended vs. closed-ended questions

But it is not only open-ended questions that work for our benefit. Monosyllabic closed-ended questions can also be used for marketing purposes. The statistics of answers to a closed question are always higher than to an open one. Why? Saying “yes” or “no” is much easier than indulging in reasoning. Let s use it! Plus, short answers to closed-ended questions are much easier to analyze.

What can closed questions be used for?

You cannot squeeze out a lot of information from them. But the answers to these questions work great when evaluating a product in a survey format, where answers are already prepared for customers. Thus, the percentage of responding users increases – they do not need to write a detailed answer.

Short answers help you quickly and accurately assess the situation. For example, the question at the end of the order, “Did you like cooperation?” explains whether everything is in order with the user experience on the company s website. Likewise, the question “Are you satisfied with our product?” will allow evaluating the success of the company s developments and their real value from a customer’s point of view.

Open-ended questions for preschoolers.

Let s return to open questions – they are used not only in commerce today. They can (and should!) be used in the training and development systems of the younger generation.

Open-ended questions for preschoolers help stimulate their logical thinking. This question cannot be answered in monosyllables – the child needs to work hard and compose a detailed answer to the question posed. By asking difficult questions, parents gradually prepare the little person for further education and life in society.

Also, open-ended questions positively affect the development of linguistic skills, which will undoubtedly benefit any child, regardless of age.

When introducing open-ended questions into learning processes, start with the elementary ones:

  • What can be done about it?
  • Why do you like this toy?
  • What do you think this dinosaur looked like?

This skill will come in handy at school and help in the future to communicate with society. How did we know about this? Surveyed experts!

Open-ended survey questions.

Polling is one of the best methods to get opinion statistics. Let s consider its features. First, questioning is a chance to get acquainted with the point of view of different people. Using statistics, you can understand the opinion of the majority. Second, consumer polling is an integral part of developing a development strategy and interaction with a company’s customers. Finally, surveys can help close the “holes” in the user experience – this will have a positive effect on consumer comfort.

Decide which specific type of question is right for you. Experts divide open questions for data collection into five categories, namely:

  • Questions about customer behavior – They allow you to understand why and for what reasons users make certain decisions
  • Questions to get feedback from a customer – They are aimed at studying the opinions of customers about the company and your products.
  • Questions for marketing research – They are used to evaluate marketing strategies. They allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of the developed plans and the need for improvements.
  • Questions for competitive analysis – It is used to assess the competitiveness of your products over peers from other companies.

Open-ended questionnaires of the right type contribute to niche success.

Open-ended questions in counseling

Any consultation requires honesty from the client. But not every client is ready to talk about their problems right away. This is why open-ended questions are widely used for counseling and therapeutic purposes.

By motivating a person to have a frank conversation, a specialist simplifies their work. They do not have to look for the source of problems on their own – the client will tell them why they are seeking advice.

Open-ended questions always prompt a detailed response, which is important for experts in all industries. For example, in medicine, a detailed answer to a leading doctor s question can shorten the duration of treatment. The psychotherapist’s task is to bring a person to a frank conversation and help them cope with the accumulated problems.

Leave comments in the article and ask the right questions.

Article by:
CEO Andrew Chornyy

CEO Plerdy — expert in SEO&CRO with over 11 years of experience.

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