Open-ended questions provide valuable insights, allowing researchers to hear directly from respondents in their own words. But open-ended questions can also present challenges ranging from respondent fatigue to analysis hurdles to implementation challenges.  Typing responses to open-ended questions can be burdensome for respondents. This is especially true of those taking surveys on their smartphones, often leading to poor quality responses.  

Allowing respondents to reply to open-ended questions verbally reduces some of these burdens. When speaking, respondents tend to give longer and more complete responses than they would if providing a written response. And respondents are also more likely to share personal, conversational anecdotes when speaking rather than writing their responses.

The rise of voice input technology like Siri, Google Voice, and Cortana opens a new, creative avenue of gathering these valuable verbal insights from smartphone respondents. Voice input technology is growing in adoption among consumers and comfort levels are increasing.  

According to a recent Branded poll, 21 percent of consumers regularly use voice input technology and an additional 13 percent use voice input occasionally. Roughly 22 percent of consumers don’t currently use voice input but would like to start using the technology in the future.

Researchers from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the University of Michigan evaluated the feasibility of using voice input technology to gather responses to open-ended questions on mobile web surveys. Their research found that 54 percent of smartphone users are willing to use voice input to reply to open-ended questions on the surveys they take.

Among smartphone users, some are more likely than others to feel comfortable using voice input technology. Those who use their phones frequently, those who already use voice input in their everyday lives and those who find taking surveys to be easy are most likely to indicate that they would use voice input on surveys.

A respondent’s environment also plays a role in their willingness to use voice input when taking mobile surveys. Respondents are more likely to use voice input when they are in a private location like their home. Respondents taking surveys away from home or at work are less likely to feel comfortable responding verbally to open-ended questions.