Survey responses from one-question survey

Can You Get Valid Results With a One-Question Survey?

It isn’t nice, but I rarely stay on the line to answer the “brief” surveys that companies ask you to take after speaking to a customer service representative. Usually, the survey isn’t so brief and it’s tedious to respond to ranking questions.

But, on a recent call to Delta Airlines, I was asked to answer one question. I was intrigued — what was the question? — so I stayed on the line and it was this: “Would you hire the last person you spoke to at Delta Airlines?”

Yes or No?

The conversation was fresh in my mind and I was happy with my experience so I answered “yes.”

The question made me think about the conversation in an entirely different way. All of a sudden the experience was about me. In a split second a thousand thoughts ran through my mind: did I get the information I wanted? Was the customer service representative helpful? Was he friendly? Would I really consider hiring him?

I’m pretty confident that Delta employees know they only get a one-question shot for an up or down rating so they need to be on their game. Ergo, in my view, you’re likely to get better customer service. (Note: You can’t blame phone reps for recent delays on Delta because of a massive storm at the airline’s Atlanta hub).

The One-Question Survey

I turned to Survey Monkey, the leader of online surveys and, sure enough, they offer one-question surveys. Of course, not every question can be answered with a yes or no. Here is a sample question on Survey Monkey’s website:

One-question survey

You can even share the results on Facebook.

What Would You Ask?

Too often we don’t ask our customers for feedback. If you’re an independent consultant, with a handful of clients, it’s easy to find out by simply having a conversation at the end of a project. But if you have thousands of customers, you’ll need a develop a survey. Survey Monkey has made that easy. You get instant results.

But as the company says, “In general, you can expect a low response rate if your survey is long, your survey language is complicated, or you send your survey to the wrong audience.”

As it is, most surveys are considered a success if they achieve a 10-15% response rate but the return can be as low as 1-2% if the survey is poorly constructed or there is little incentive to respond.

So why not give the one-question survey a try? You may learn all you need to know with the simple question: “How am I doing?”

Leave a Reply


  1. This is a great idea, Jeannette. All of us are surveyed — or asked to participate in a survey — non stop, so if a company can glean important insights with a one-question survey and boost the response rate, why not? I guess “less is more” can really apply to surveys.

  2. I LOVE this idea Jeannette! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can see how this approach would work well for my business.

    • Jeff — that’s great. I thought so, too. It was a first for me. And the teaser compelled me to find out what the one question was, which actually surprised me.

  3. Another way of looking at it is from an academic point of view. It’s quite frequent that a student writing a thesis is forced to concentrate on one question/issue only. If they make a survey or interview people who are relevant to talk to on that issue/question they/we focus on that one question only. Personally think this single minded focus on one issue only does not show the knowledge and competence of a student. But that’s the Anglo Saxon way of writing a thesis. The Continental way of writing a thesis is more hollistic and a better way of finding out what the student knows. But it’s not up to the students to decide in which format they are going to use when they write their thesis.

    • Catarina — no doubt, in-depth research can reveal more nuanced information. However, there are times when you need an answer in a hurry, or you don’t have the budget for a big study. So, a one-question survey might serve your purposes well in those situations.

  4. I’m totally into the less is more approach to surveys. Yet, I still tend to click on most that get sent my way, only to then be appalled by redundancy and unclear wording. All those years of writing tests and quizzes for students means I can write a pretty lean and mean survey if I try. I got great responses from the one I did a few years ago for my blog. As I think about next year, I find myself wanting to do a one-question survey about the author interviews. On the one hand, I love posting them as it’s a great way to network and to learn from those I interview. On the other hand, they aren’t informative posts and don’t get as much traffic as posts I’ve done that fall into the most instructive route. I suppose a good balance is to up my game on a once monthly super-detailed informative post if I want to continue doing a monthly author interview. It’s a hard call, but I’m sure a one-question survey will help me get a handle on the best path to take.

    • Jeri — you make the point that the author interviews are a great way to network. I don’t think the point of blogging is always to get the most views but to write posts that meet your business goals.

  5. I’ve tried different surveys, and polls, with various numbers of questions. What I like is your stats: 10% to 15% response rate. Wow! Guess mine HAVE been a success then.

    These days I like more and more, brief – hence your once question survey is certainly worth a try.

    Thanks Jeannette.

    • Patricia — based on research I did while I was still working with agencies and corporations, a 10-15% response rate is actually pretty awesome. Sometimes you don’t need any more information than you’d get from a one-question survey.

  6. Hey Jeannette,

    Indeed a great idea. People these days rarely answer questions, so having a one question survey can easily be a better option as I personally do not answer more than 2 questions in a survey unless they pay me money for that, which they don’t 😛 .

    So, one question survey is a good option to go with. Thanks Jeannette for the idea.

    • Jelina — I think most people feel the same way — if you need my help with a multi-page survey, how about some compensation?!

  7. This is a very resourceful idea when it comes to survey forms. I think I’ll try to use it in online business. Keep up the great work Jeannette!