The terms, rating and ranking, often get confused when referring to survey questions.  The reason for this is that both types of survey questions are generally multiple choice.  The best way to distinguish between the two is to understand what the different types of questions are looking for. So here is our run down of rating questions vs ranking questions.

The kind of question you ask depends on the kind of information you’re looking for.  And it should also be remembered that both ranking and rating questions have advantages and disadvantages.

Rating Questions vs Ranking Questions

Rating Questions

Rating questions are looking for the customer’s opinion of a product or service.  For example, the question might be, “How useful did you find our software application?” and allowing a respondent to choose a score to indicate their option.

Rating questions are less confusing to customers as directions are easier to follow.  Also, since they offer options, they require customers to make only indirect value judgments, which is less stressful.  One major disadvantage is that large numbers of rating questions can cause customers to rush through one after the other without sufficient thought.  It’s just so easy to click on those little circles.

Ranking questions

Ranking questions are looking for importance, in other words they are looking for what’s important to the customer.  Rating questions, on the other hand, are looking for quality.  They want to know what the customer thinks about a particular product and service.

Ranking questions often even include the word ” importance,” such as ranking a set of four customer service actions in an order of preference.

Ranking questions require customers to evaluate importances and make direct value judgments, which can be more difficult.  Sometimes ranking questions can produce spurious results when the questions are of little interest to the customer. However, the fact that ranking questions require value judgements can lead to greater discrimination between and better analytics.

So, which type of question you ask depends a great deal on what you want to know.  You can’t go very wrong if you have carefully determined what kind of information you want your survey to generate.  Ultimately, a well designed survey has the best chance of asking the right questions in the first place.