Customer Success Blog | Emojics

Likert Scale: What it is and How to Use it?

Measuring customer attitudes and feelings is essential for your business as this is how you improve customer experience. The way how you create and conduct customer surveys play an important role in its response rate. According to a Pew study, the response rate for surveys has declined significantly in the past few years. There are tons of reasons why there is a decline in response rate but one of the most common is how you design the survey.

The easy, straightforward, and quick it is, the better.

Likert scale is the most popular rating scale that is used to measure attitudes. If you have ever conducted a survey, I’m sure you know what a Likert scale is. If you are new to it and don’t know how to use it, this guide will show you how to best use the Likert scale to improve the response rate and to engage with the respondents.

What is a Likert Scale?

Likert scale, also known as a Likert rating system, is used to measure attitudes, opinions, and perceptions of respondents via survey. The respondents rate their feelings on a numeric scale (1-5) which is later interpreted for analysis.

The rating on the scale represents a continuum from highest to lowest points and it is assumed that that distance from point A to point B is equal to the distance between point B to point C. That is, the distance between any two points is the same. A point refers to an interval which, theoretically, stays constant. Thus, a 5-point Likert scale has 5 equal points where the distance between all the points is the same.

The respondents specify their agreement or disagreement with a statement on the agree-disagree scale by choosing a relevant point. The 5-point Likert scale is the most common scale used where respondents rate their feelings on a five-point scale (1 represents strongly disagree and 5 represents strongly agree). The point-system is flexible which means you can use 3-point, 5-point, 7-point, or any other (odd or even) point system for your scale. It depends on what you are measuring.

Rensis Likert invented this rating system back in 1932 to measure attitudes and called it the attitude scale. It was later named after its inventor and is since then used extensively in all types of academic and business research.

Here is an example of a Likert scale:

likert scale example

You can create it to measure any variable and can analyze results by measuring responses. When creating a scale or using an existing one, there are two things that you must consider:

  1. Reliability of the scale
  2. Validity of the scale

Reliability of a Likert Scale

Reliability refers to the degree with which a scale is consistent and measures the same variable (also known as a construct) consistently repeatedly. You need to ask yourself: Can you depend on the scale to measure the variable?

If your answer is YES, it is reliable which means it will measure consistently no matter if you use it today or next week or next decade.

Validity of a Likert Scale

Validity refers to the scale’s ability to measure what it is supposed to measure. It should measure the same construct that you are trying to measure. For instance, a scale to measure satisfaction should measure customer satisfaction and not any other related or even unrelated construct such as fulfillment or gratification.

Here is what happens when a scale isn’t reliable or valid or both:

Likert scale reliability and validity

Follow these tips to make your scale reliable and valid:

  • Let Subject Matter Experts review your Likert scale
  • Run a pilot study and ask respondents if they were able to make sense of the scale
  • Clearly define the construct and then create questions (also known as items) to measure it
  • Use Cronbach’s Alpha to measure scale reliability

Types of Likert Scale

There are two main types of Likert scale:

  1. Odd Likert scale
  2. Even Likert scale

The odd Likert scale has 3, 5, 7, 9, or any odd number of options for respondents to choose from. In odd scales, there is always a neutral option which is the central point on the scale. The 5-point Likert scale is the most common where two points represent one extreme, two points the other extreme, and the central point represents a neutral position. Other odd scale types are either extension or reduction of the 5-point scale.

Even Likert scales contain even points that are obtained by removing the neutral point. This means you only give extreme options to the respondents to choose from without any neutral or average option. The 4-point Likert scale is the most common even scale and all the other even scales are its extension or reduction.

Here is an example of a 4-point Likert scale without the neutral point:

4-point likert scale

There are situations where you have to measure a variable without taking any neutral position such as frequency of doing something. In this case, you might choose to give the following points:

  1. Very frequently
  2. Frequently
  3. Rarely
  4. Never

The right type of scale is one that lets you accurately measure what you are trying to measure. It can be with or without the neutral point.

Why You Should Use a Likert Scale

The Likert scale has several characteristics that make it your top priority for data collection. Here are a few major reasons why you should use it:

  • Creating questions is simple and straightforward.
  • Administering a it is easy. You can conduct it online or offline as per need.
  • Respondents don’t need any guidance to fill the questionnaire.
  • It has multiple choice questions that don’t need any input from the respondents. They just have to select a single option which makes the Likert scale user-friendly.
  • Statistical analysis of a Likert scale is straightforward. You don’t need a statistical tool rather it can be analyzed in Excel easily.
  • It lets you measure qualitative variables that are, otherwise, hard to measure such as feelings, customer perception, etc.
  • You can choose from already developed Likert scales for data collection such as Net Promoter Score.

How to Use a Likert Scale

Using a Likert scale isn’t a big deal. If you are planning to collect data from customers on a specific variable, follow these steps to use it:

  1. Identify the variable you want to measure.
  2. Check the availability of existing Likert scales. For instance, if you want to measure customer engagement, you can use this or this scale with the author’s written permission.
  3. If there aren’t any scales available, create your own Likert scale. Create items that measure the construct. Get your items verified from experts and respondents to ensure validity. Run a pilot study to ensure reliability.
  4. Distribute your scale and collect responses. This can be done using a tool like Emojics or Google Forms or you can do it manually by entering data in an Excel sheet.
  5. Interpret and analyze using a statistical tool like SPSS or in Excel.

You can use a Likert scale to measure any variable by quantifying it, and this is its beauty. You are now all set to get started.

Sabih Javed

Sabih Javed is a certified inbound marketer and an experienced digital marketing writer. His publications appeared on leading marketing blogs like JeffBullas, Yahoo News, TheNextWeb, Business2Community, and more. Connect with him @sabihjavedd