There are many ways to structure a multiple-choice question via IVR. Here are some guidelines and examples to help you improve the user-friendliness to survey respondents and improve the accuracy of data.


A multiple choice question is a question that can result in the respondent selecting one of many pre-determined options. For example:

  • asking a user if they are right-handed or left-handed
  • asking a yes/no question
  • asking if they eat vegetables every day, every week or never

A multiple choice question usually consists of:
  • Introduction: An Introductory description, such as "Are you right handed or left handed?".
  • Options: An Enumeration of options, such as "For left handed press 1. For right handed, press 2".
  • Correction: An Error Message in case an option wasn't recognized, such as "Sorry, I didn't understand.

The user experience when a respondent answers correctly will be as follows: 

[Introduction]->[Options]-> {correct user input}

If the user makes a mistake while entering an option the flow will typically go: 

[Introduction]->[Options]-> {user input} -> [Correction]->[Options]->{correct user input}


Do say the option before the required input.

Listeners typically 'perk up' and pay more attention when the correct answer is read, and then they pay attention to the required input. Conversely, if the question is sequenced wrong, listeners will forget the input code by the time they hear the description.

Correct: "If you ate a salad yesterday, press 1. If you didn't, press 2."

Incorrect: "Press 1 if you ate a salad yesterday. Press 2 if you didn't."

Do stay consistent for similar question types.

Listeners will be 'trained' after only one example on whether 1 means Yes and 2 means No. For example, if "very frequently" is 3 and "seldom" is 1, don't swap the options across questions. Changing the inputs for similar questions is confusing and will decrease data quality.

Do consider the natural sequence of numbers.

Asking magnitude or linear questions should be done so it matches numeric input codes. This applies to ages, weights, etc. Consider the growing sequences in: "If you're 20 to 29 years old, press 1. If you're 30 to 44 years old, press 2". 

Do shorten the list of options.

Keeping the list of options as short as possible will reduce survey time.

Do consider the keypad position of numbers.

Languages and some words have a certain left/right or top/bottom predisposition. Match the answers to intuitive positions on the keypad. For example, consider the physical keypad position of answers in: "For left handed, press 1. For right handed, press 2". 

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