Remember last year’s presidential election? Donald Trump (seemingly) came from behind to defeat the presumed forerunner Hillary Clinton. Poll after poll, survey upon survey; all models had predicted an easy win for Clinton. It seems crazy that they all were so wrong. But it happens. For an example from the marketing world, think about New Coke in the 1980s. It failed, in part, because Coca-Cola asked consumers the wrong question. Instead of “Do you like New Coke better than traditional Coke?,” researchers should have asked, “Will you buy New Coke in place of traditional Coke?” With regard to the presidential election, the survey problem was more a product of sample error than incorrect question wording. Both, however, rendered the same outcome: faulty projections. It’s evident, therefore, that sound surveying techniques can be the cornerstone of any campaign, and it’s because of this that businesses must choose a survey company that understands the nuances of effective data collection when it comes time to begin their own market research endeavor. With hundreds (probably thousands) of firms from which to pick, businesses must look past experience and cost (of course, you want a expert partner that produces quality results at a competitive price), and focus on more intricate skill sets.
Know the answers to these three questions before you pick your next survey company:
Can They Provide Customized Services?
You don’t want a survey company that simply slaps your company name to the top of a canned survey and calls it a day. You want a company that listens to your objectives and finds ways to address them. If you think you need multiple questions about a possible product color, the right partner should be able to formulate the right questions without hesitation. Quality survey companies will also have a variety of survey methods in their arsenals. There are times for online questionnaires, and there are other times when telephone, direct mail or face-to-face surveying can be beneficial. Good firms match the method to the client and not the other way around.
How Do They Encourage Respondent Participation?
It’s one thing to be able to fashion a quality survey, and it’s another to get people to actually take it. Find out how your potential partner plans to engage respondents. Will they use an incentive? If so, what is it? You want to make sure that respondents are effective representatives of the segment you’re targeting and not simply “career survey takers” looking to “make a buck.” Confirm that respondents (if incentivized) are compensated in ways that match their level of expertise and the amount of time and effort they will spend helping you. You might also choose to review the way companies interact with respondents. It’s important that researchers are charismatic and capable of engaging respondents in a friendly manner that encourages participation and follow-through.
What Options Do They Provide for Analysis and Solutions?
Once you have your data, do you know what to do with it? A reputable survey company will be able to tell you more than averages or aggregations. They know what metrics to apply in order to get results that are actionable and profitable. In some instances, they can even provide solutions themselves; they not only help you gather data, they can tell you how to use it.
At Communications for Research, we understand that choosing a survey company can be a daunting task. We also know how to tailor surveys to match specific objectives, interact with respondents and deliver quality data and solutions. We listen to our clients. If you want to see how these skills can benefit your business, contact us today.
You can also download our FREE eBook, "The Insider’s Guide to Successfully Using Market Research Online Surveys" for additional survey tips!