All posts by Amy Hess

Improving Response Rates with Survey Design

by Mark Martins

As we all know respondent rates and engagement is a big concern in our industry. While we often look at the quality of the sample we tend to ignore a very important contributor, survey design. Below are some tips on how to improve your response rates by designing more engaging surveys.

Length: Survey length continues to be a leading cause of respondent drop offs (not to mention high incentives). The quality of the data becomes questionable the longer the survey is as people tend to stop paying attention and simply start clicking away to get to the end.

Look and Feel: Make the survey engaging for the respondent by using visual appealing colors, media/ Rich Media (e.g. Flash, HTML) and fonts that are pleasing to look at.

Avoid overcrowding: Keep your question text and instructions clear and simple. The lengthier the text on the page the more likely the respondent will not read all of it which will impact how they answer the question. Equally important limit the amount of answer options on a page. If needed, use text predictive tools or drop down boxes to avoid overcrowding.

Question Type: Avoid using open-ended questions as much as possible, this type of question means more work for the respondent (and additional costs for coding for you). Make sure you use the right question type, this may seem obvious but you’d be surprised…

You need to use these guidelines together, for example, getting carried away and adding really cool flash tools for your entire survey will do nothing for survey length (not to mention the additional costs).

Always look at your questionnaire from the respondent’s perspective. If you find the survey boring, too long or unappealing chances are your respondents will too.



*This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Metrics! What is the right balance?

by Mark Martins

Some companies have no metrics to speak of and use the “gut” or “honor” system to determine productivity, quality and other relevant metrics. Others have metrics measuring everything you can think of and then some more.

Having worked in both environments I can tell you that neither are the answer, too little and you will find it challenging to manage a business with more than 10 people. Too much and your two most valuable assets will suffer, employees and clients.

Many of the metrics exist only for reporting purposes for senior management. While that is sometimes necessary, you need to keep those to a minimum as they add no value from your employees’ point of view. I’ve seen employees focusing so much on productivity that quality goes out the window, or focusing so much on quality that customer satisfaction and productivity suffers because of the additional time the employee will take to ensure the project is perfect. While metrics can be valuable they can also be a huge source of employee dissatisfaction especially if their compensation depends on it.

Any metric that depends on user input is highly questionable and likely not accurate enough to use for decision making purposes. The best approach to handling metrics is to use a workflow tool that doesn’t require user input for data collection. The system can record time stamps, user clicks, number of tasks, quality scores, etc. automatically.

If you do not have a workflow system then keep it simple, quality, productivity and customer satisfaction are a must have. Anything else you need to think really hard about the trade-off between the value the metric will bring to you and the impact on your business.

Having said all of this, employees are not numbers or charts, they are people! Metrics should be only one of the tools you use to measure performance, not “the” tool.


*This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

It’s true in Market Research as well – you get what you pay for!

by Mark Martins

Would you walk into a Bentley dealership with a $25,000 budget? I seriously doubt it… so why is it that so many clients want premium services for bargain prices? Whether it’s sample, analysis or survey programming, the principle is exactly the same.

If your research project requires “hard to find” decision makers, it will likely be expensive so you need to ensure you have the right budget. If your high complexity, 45 minute research project needs to be programmed in 2 days instead of the usual 4, well, guess what, it’s going to cost.

Education is vital in this industry as in all others, we need to understand the product we are selling, how long it will take to accomplish and how much it will cost. Partnering with the client and educating the client on these principles is vital. We don’t always deal with a senior researcher and taking 5 minutes to help that person, who might not have done this before, understand these things can go a long way to avoiding challenges later on.

These days we have a wide range of options in the market and most of our needs can be met as long as we understand and are realistic about the implications. So if you only have a $25,000 budget please don’t waste that nice salesperson’s time at the Bentley dealership….

*This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Long Term Employees

by Mark Martins

Employees are the most important thing for a business to be successful in addition to clients, and finding the right employee can be very difficult. Training them, motivating them and retaining them can be a huge challenge so we generally look at a long-term employee as a good thing. After all, it surely represents employee satisfaction for your organization.

There are many reasons long-term employees are good for a business, more experience means more productivity, more knowledge of your products and clients, mentoring for new employees and fewer errors just to name a few. This means that these employees are less expensive than you think even if their compensation is higher than their junior counterparts.

While having tenured employees is generally a good thing be aware of the long-term employee that has been in the same position for years in an environment that offers opportunities for advancement.

Be aware of that employee with the sense of entitlement that doesn’t think he/she needs to work as hard as the new guy simply because he/she has been around longer.

Be aware of that employee that takes too much of your time explaining the obvious reasons why he/she isn’t being promoted yet again.

Some positions have a shelf-life and if someone remains in that position much longer than other employees and shows no potential for advancement, it may be time for a change…


*This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.