The free-form responses that people give in surveys are often the best source of impactful insights that your company can gather. But how do you make meaning from them in a way that translates to quantifiable evidence of anything? The answer lies in coding. Coding in analysis takes the answer to each open-ended question in a survey (called a verbatim) and applies one or more numerical codes to it so that researchers can better manipulate results during analysis. While basic close-ended questions, like dichotomous, multiple choice, rating or scaled questions, provide broad overviews of a situation or problem, open-ended questions help provide solutions. Thus, coding of open-ended questions may take time initially, but in the end, it allows for conclusions to be drawn more quickly and with further-reaching implications.
There are two ways businesses can choose to code: manually (or custom coding) and with the help of computers (automated coding). Automated coding is faster and cheaper and becoming ubiquitous, but custom coding is still a viable and worthwhile endeavor. It’s hard to beat a personalized touch. Here are three reasons custom survey coding is more important than you might think:
Custom Survey Coding Allows for Complexity
The human mind is a powerful machine. Yes, a computer can do more in less time, but the value of human intelligence is priceless. When dealing with subjective analysis of free text, the judgment of humans is often the key to making meaning out of gibberish. Humans can filter through euphemisms, sarcasm, misspellings, ambiguities and other distractions to interpret context and significance, making them more accurate with their codes a lot of the time.
Custom Survey Coding Allows for Flexibility
Survey respondents don’t always say things in the same way. Their level of education, gender, age and ethnicity can all affect how they say something. Custom survey coding is pliable. In contrast to automated coding, it can adapt to intention instead of remaining fixed to certain predetermined and immoveable parameters.
Custom Survey Coding Identifies Duplicity
Sometimes people just want to mess with you. Custom survey coding can spot that when it happens. If a respondent is simply cutting and pasting answers or typing random and meaningless text, human coders will notice it and flag the survey as suspicious, allowing its data to be further investigated. This helps ensure the integrity of results.
Custom survey coding is a precise and complicated process that must be carefully managed in order to avoid bias and guarantee legitimate results. Our team at Communications for Research (CFR) has many decades of experience custom coding survey answers for meaningful analysis. We test codes with at least three individuals and produce well-rounded and actionable reports for our clients. Contact us to see how we can help you get the most out of your next survey experience.
You may also download our FREE eBook, “The Insider's Guide to Successfully Using Market Research Online Surveys,” for additional survey tips.