How to analyze open and qualitative feedback?

Analyzing the qualitative feedback is truly a challenge. It is time consuming and given with the quantitative feedback, it has to be taken together with it, even while analyzing. However, it helps in many ways. You can analyze the qualitative feedback at the individual level. This would be useful to interpret the survey instrument better in the following ways:

Analyzing the Qualitative Feedback at individual level:

  • Qualitative feedback gives an added dimension or validity to the quantitative answer. For example, on a survey feedback one participant had rated the performance of the trainer as 4 out of 5 (5 being the highest). However, in the qualitative section, the participant had described many drawbacks and ways the trainer could have done better. The qualitative answer was more valid than the quantitative. When there are sharp discrepancies in quantitative and qualitative feedback on the same instrument, the quantitative measure should not be considered as valid.
  • When considered together, many times the qualitative and quantitative feedback gives a complete picture of the entire event or the circumstances that are being evaluated. For example, in one online survey for an online purchase there were the following questions: Was the salesperson helpful? Now the entire purchase was online, so there was no salesperson. The customer had answered “not relevant” to salesperson in most sentences. However, the customer had contacted a salesperson during the process of purchase to get help with a deal that was not showing up. As there was a Qualitative option there, the customer could make a note of it – this would give the company a better picture – because in most other categories, the customer had marked Salesperson as “not relevant”! Without the qualitative feedback, the answers would not have made sense, or would be inconsistent.

Analyzing Qualitative Responses at the group level:


A common way of analyzing qualitative feedback is doing a content analysis. In this process, the sentences and words written by the respondent are marked. For example words like “excellent” “very poor” “mediocre” “could be better” “did not know the company policy” and so on can be tallied. How many respondents give these responses? These tallies can then be counted, and then converted into numbers. You can then use the qualitative feedback in a number of ways

  • In many cases, content analysis can help you to refine your quantitative measures. For example, ten people out of fifteen say that the product is “excellent” and three say “very good” in the qualitative feedback. However, their quantitative feedback on a 7 point rating scale is say 6 out of 7 or 5 or 4 out of 7, it can be said that though no one gave a 7 out of 7, the product quality is more towards “excellent”. The qualitative feedback can help refine the rating scales, by refining the ratings, or the statements that are rated. Many times this can be a very time consuming job but gladly, it can be automatised.
  • Based on the responses can a new category be formed? For example, if many (this you need to define — many is 50% of the respondents, or more) respondents have written about say the environment of the event — for example an auto showroom where there is no place to sit, then do you want to actually measure it on the next survey? Do you want to make it into a separate item that can be addressed as a performance improvement issue.

Qualitative feedback can really make a difference when trying to really understand your customer. It can yield interesting data on variables you had no idea of, or thought of in a different way. It can help you to drive more sales while you know why your customers left without buying, and the list goes on and on! Whether you are running an eCommerce, retail or service business, this is definitely something to consider! 

If you are looking for some help with your CX or you just have something you would like to ask, we are more than happy to help you – Just let me know!

– Jaakko

CEO, Feedbackly