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Do We Have a Place in the Lives of Respondents?

For online data collection companies, respondents are every bit as important as clients. When we don’t value our respondents’ experience, our data becomes compromised.

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By Sima Vasa

For online data collection companies, respondents are every bit as important as clients. When we don’t value our respondents’ experience, our data becomes compromised.

Among all the data-collection techniques used, the internet offers the least direct human contact. This can leave respondents feeling alienated, as though they are a mere statistic. As leaders in online data collection, we must place greater emphasis on our respondents’ experience. Without respondents, we have no customers — and without customers, we have no business! The technology driving our industry is incredible, and it’s worthy of attention. But we often forget that the feedback we collect from people is what’s driving this technology.

In this article, I’d like to take some time to learn more about our respondents. After all, they’re the ones who help us make a living! They want to share their opinions and earn rewards, true, but we also have a place in their daily lives.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, the experience we deliver to our respondents has an impact. We need to make sure that our respondents are as satisfied as our customers. After all, they are the heart and soul of what we deliver.

Adopting this perspective, I chose to look more deeply into how the experience we offer shapes respondents’ opinions of us. We developed and fielded a survey of 2,500 of our most active panelists. Here is what we found:

  1. Respondents count on us and plan to take our surveys. 80% of people indicated that they like taking surveys on weekdays, but only when they have a free moment. We learned from this that we need to provide more opportunities for those who can’t make time to respond during the week. One respondent said:

The only thing I have trouble with is doing these surveys on weekdays […] I am doing this one on a Wednesday.  I am a teacher, and weekdays are the most difficult for me to get them done and they sometimes expire before I get a chance to do them.

  1. The Older Demographic has value and wants to contribute in a more meaningful way. The younger demographic, out of all age groups, rated their experience with us the highest. As I dug deeper, I learned that the older demographic wished we offered more surveys geared toward them. Here’s some of what they said:

[I’d like] more surveys geared to older adults. Just because we are over 65 doesn’t mean we don’t contribute.

I may be older but I’m quite aware of what’s going on in the world.  I’m an avid reader, [and] love music, including what my grandchildren listen to.  I’m interested in tech, though [I’m] not a geek.

Reading these comments, and many others like them, we saw the need to give our older demographic more opportunities to share their opinion, and to target more surveys to their age group. They are loyal and want to contribute.

  1. Integration of mobile technology enhances respondents’ experience and increases participation. Respondents frequently requested that surveys be optimized for mobile devices.  We received many comments like these:

“Ensure surveys can be completed on a mobile device…it’s no longer new technology.”

‘Many surveys are not able to be taken on a mobile device. This needs to be changed as more and more people use their mobile devices for things other than talking/texting.”

  1. Respondents want us to value their time. Many respondents expressed frustration at being disqualified after answering fifteen questions. 87% of our respondents indicated that they prefer to respond to 2-5 preliminary questions (even if these questions are repeated in the main survey) than respond to 15-20 questions before being disqualified. Most would prefer to know, at the cost of a redundant question or two, if they qualify upfront.  They understand the trade-off, and prefer being pre-screened.
  1. While the primary reason for membership in our panel is to earn rewards, this varies by age groups. Earning rewards was, unsurprisingly, cited as the primary reason for membership in our panel. While this response was the most common, it varied by age group. For the 18-34 segment (69%), fun rewards were the largest driver. In contrast, 25% of the 35-54 age segment cited “having my voice heard” as the primary driver for membership, while only 15% of the 18-34 segment listed this as their motivation.

It’s natural for us to be concerned with the service we offer our customer base. This article is designed not as an opposition, but as a supplement, to that demand for excellence. We offer our customers data from respondents — if we don’t consider their concerns, the data we offer is compromised.

Our respondents are as essential as our customers. Their concerns must be taken into account if we seek to maximize our product’s value. When we consider our respondents, we ensure higher-quality data for those with whom we do business.

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