Staying competitive in the marketplace through brand and customer awareness can be difficult. How do you know what your customers are thinking? Is your product really meeting the consumer’s expectations? The only effective way to get into the mind of your customer is to ask them directly – and to do that successfully, you will need to understand and use Likert scale questions. 

What is a Likert scale? 

You’ve probably encountered Likert scale questions before. Whether you received an email asking “How satisfied are you with your transaction?” after purchasing an item or “How likely are you to return?” after receiving a service – Likert scale questions are everywhere. They’re one of the most popular and easy ways of measuring attitudes in market research. 

Created by Renis Likert in 1932, the Likert scale is a survey model that typically includes 5 to 7 categorial options that range in degree of agreement or disagreement, meant to evaluate one’s feelings towards a statement or question (also known as the Likert item) being asked. The scale can be used to measure a variety of different sentiment themes including likelihood, agreement, quality, frequency, and importance. [1]

Example of a Likert question measuring satisfaction.

Tallying up the results for your Likert scale question is easy. Just add up the numbers associated with each value sentiment (for example, 1 = strongly disagree, 3 = neutral, 5 = strongly agree) for a chosen group of responses to produce an overall score. In fact, the Likert scale is also known as a “summative” scale for this very reason.

Pros and cons of using a Likert scale

When gathering research, it’s important to review the pros and cons of your data collection process.

“Why is the Likert scale so popular? It is easy to construct, and most importantly, it works.”

Jon A. Krosnick, Thomas M. Ostrom, Charles F. Bond, Jr., and Constantine Sedikides [2]

Pros: As mentioned in the quote above, setting up a Likert scale is straightforward. The easier it is for you to ask your questions, the easier it is for your customers to provide the insights you need. Measuring feedback through Likert scale questions also provides more nuanced insight into the intensity of your audience’s feelings compared to a simple yes or no question.

Cons: When surveying sets of individuals, you always want to consider how biases can skew your data. Acquiescence response bias, for example, is the common tendency to agree with all statements/questions asked. To avoid this, make sure you have a neutral midpoint, balanced questions, and the appropriate amount of positive and negative scale points to ensure the bias does not compromise your data. [2]

Best practices for building a Likert scale

To build out a successful Likert scale survey, there are a few key tips to take into consideration. 

  • Keep the scale points odd: Researchers suggest that an impactful Likert scale has an equal number of positive and negative sentiment selections with a neutral midpoint in case the reader has no opinion on the statement or question. Keeping the scale with an odd number of values and with a neutral “No opinion” middle ground allows for the reader to not feel pressured or biased towards either the positive or negative sides of the scale. [5] 
  • But make sure it’s not too many: Likert items can have up to as many as 11 scale points for a reader to choose from, but how can you know what the right number of points to include is for effective measuring? Researchers have found that too many options can cause confusion and lack of data validity, while too few scale points cannot appropriately measure the reader’s distinctions between the sentiment points. Studies have suggested that the optimal amount of scale points to include in your survey is 5 to 7. [3]
  • Use positive and negative statements: Have confidence in your data by considering asking reversed positive and negative statements. For example, if you have a positive statement such as, “I appreciate that Hem & Stitch’s new clothing line has styles for all ages” and the user “Strongly Agrees” with the statement, try including a negative statement such as “Hem & Stitch’s new line has too many style options.” to see if the same user responds negatively to the statement. That way, you can be certain that your reader is paying attention and that your data is sound. [4] 

Use Likert scale questions to understand your audience

Surveying customers for feedback is essential to improving your business, and making sure you’re using the best assessment tools (such as a Likert scale) for that data is even more crucial.

You can easily create Likert scale questions with Delighted’s free Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) survey templates for SMS, web intercept, link, or email through our customer satisfaction survey software. You can also create your own custom Likert scale questions through the Additional Questions (AQ) feature. 

To help you get started, we’ve gathered a list of some of the best and most common Likert questions to ask. Head over to our full list of popular customer satisfaction questions for more.

  • CSAT: How satisfied are you with [product/service]? Answer scale: 1 to 5, Very dissatisfied to Very satisfied
  • CES: [Product feature] made it easy for me to accomplish [feature goal]. Answer scale: 1 to 5, Strongly disagree to Strongly agree
  • AQ: How satisfied are you with the quality of the product? Answer scale: 1 to 5, Very dissatisfied to Very satisfied
  • AQ: How likely are you to [repurchase/renew the contract]? Answer scale: 1 to 5, Very unlikely to Very likely
  • AQ: This [product/service] helps me accomplish my goals. Answer scale: 1 to 5, Strongly disagree to Strongly agree
  • AQ: My association with [brand/service] was a positive one. Answer scale, 1 to 5, Strongly disagree to Strongly agree [6]

When using Likert or other rating scales, it’s important to make sure your questions are clear, specific, and unbiased. We’ve provided 7 examples of bad survey questions to avoid as you’re building out your surveys and other Voice of the Customer question examples that help bridge gaps between what your brand provides and what the customer expects. 

Likert scale questions are a proven method for surveying your audience with confidence. Start building your Likert scale survey today with a free trial of our experience management software, and get the insights necessary to scale your brand for long-term success.