Few things in life are more frustrating than a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s often a disaster of an experience featuring business hours that don’t seem to fit anyone’s schedule, excessively long lines, and painfully slow service. Most of us leave the DMV shaking our heads, if not our fists.

What does the DMV have to do with Market Research? The hard truth is that many of the surveys that respondents are asked to take leave them feeling like they just returned from a trip to DMV; exhausted and not wanting to go back anytime soon. In order to survive as an industry that provides invaluable consumer insights to our clients, we need a large pool of potential survey participants who are willing to respond to our surveys with enthusiasm and thoughtfulness.  And, while a visit to the DMV is mandatory, participation in market research surveys is not.   As such, it is imperative that we provide our respondents with the best experience possible so they keep coming back.

Some of the more egregious surveys that respondents are being served up are long (like 45 minutes long) with repetitive questions, needlessly wordy instructions, and layouts that make it all but impossible to take the survey on a mobile device.  That last point is paramount, because 30% of survey takers participate on smartphones, with 50% of the highly coveted 18-34 year-old age group doing so.

How pervasive are these issues?  How much of a problem are they for our industry?  A recent GRBN survey  found that about a third of survey takers felt few or none of the surveys they’d done recently were enjoyable, with another one-third saying “some” surveys were enjoyable.  If those stats are not sobering enough, hear this: 70% of survey participants reported having had a bad survey experience recently.

What happens as a result of a bad survey experience?  Well, one-in-five people don’t take another survey, which means our pool of resources is shrinking.  And equally alarming is the fact that a bad survey experience negatively impacts perceptions of the brands (or categories) mentioned in the survey.  A bad survey experience actually does the opposite of what we’re trying to do, which is to increase our client’s success.

So, What Are We Doing About This?

First, we must appreciate just how important an issue this is.  At RTi, we do understand.  We understand that without an engaged, diverse and abundant pool of survey takers, there will not be much in the way of insights to provide our clients.  It is so important to us, in fact, that we’ve taken a leadership role on the global stage to help not only our company, but the entire research industry turn things around for the better.

RTi is one of several companies working in partnership with the GRBN on a global, industry wide initiative to deliver a top notch respondent experience.

Through our participation, we learned that RTi already does a lot of things right when it comes to providing a good survey experience.  The vast majority of our survey takers are happy when they see one of our surveys. However, it is not 100%, so we decided to make some adjustments when it comes to our surveys:

  • Mobile First – This is much more than just allowing a person to access a survey on a smartphone, it means designing and programming surveys with mobile survey-takers top of mind. All of our surveys are now programmed mobile optimized.
  • Being Conversational – Today’s respondents are savvy about how to take a survey and they have much less free time, so we’re aiming to talk to them like “normal folk”, conversational and concise. No need to take up four lines of text to describe how a respondent should answer a scale question. We’ve lightened up our surveys by removing all that extra, unnecessary wording.
  • Encouraging Respondents – Who doesn’t like a pat on the back? We’re not shy when it comes to letting our survey takers know that they’re doing a good job, that their opinions are valued, and most importantly, that they can see the finish line!
  • Showing Gratitude – We understand how important our respondents are to the success of our clients’ businesses, and we like to show it. At the end of each survey, respondents get to “meet” an RTi team member via a short “thank you” video.

Ultimately, our goal is to make every respondent look forward to taking our surveys. The result is higher quality data, which leads to better insights for our clients and the assurance of a strong resource that allows for the continued health of our industry.

If you’re an RTi client, you can be confident in greater data quality generated through a positive respondent experience.  If you’re a research agency, please, join us on our quest to make surveys a positive experience for our valued respondents.

Attending the Corporate Researchers Conference this year?  Lisa Cooper from RTi and other industry leaders will be participating in a panel discussion on the subject of respondent engagement: What Low Trust in MR Means for You, Your Data and Your Company – And What to Do About It.  Join us for this important session Monday, October 8th from 12:30-1:15.