surveys an introduction

Why Use Surveys

Essentially, you have an idea about what you want to know and who you’d like to ask. In a business context these ideas are more tangible.

The client or organisation wants:

• to gather meaningful opinions, comments and feedback on a topic or product
• to base decisions on objective information (unbiased survey results)
• to compare results by taking a snapshot of opinion now as a baseline, to benchmark for later studies

Regardless of the reasons for choosing this method, it is essential that the research question or scope is clearly articulated – it is the foundation of the project. If you have the right idea but ask the wrong questions it is unlikely that you will get relevant answers (the voice and opinions of your sample group).

To turn that idea into end to end survey administration is what an experienced market research company like Smart Consult can assist with. A snapshot of our approach is as follows:

The Questions

paper survey

When considering which questions to ask in the survey, it is useful to have in mind the following:

• the goal of the survey
• the plans on how the survey data will be used
• and what decisions will be made as a result of the survey data

This will assist in constructing the questions sets, and response structure (open-ended, close-ended, multi-response, etc).

Questions should be relevant to the topic and the group (demographic) it’s aimed at. They must also be unbiased – do not lead or direct the respondent to a particular answer or limit the answers possible to a narrow range. It is imperative that, response bias – where there’s something about how the actual survey questionnaire is constructed that encourages a certain type of answer, leading to measurement error – is avoided.


Equally as important is the length of time it takes to complete. Too short and the information captured might be limited. Too long and respondents might not complete all questions. Which impacts on the response rate and validity of the survey.

The Sample Group

Encouraging participation is the aim, to get as many people in your sample group (demographic) to complete the survey. This helps to validate findings and averts selection bias where the results are skewed a particular way because feedback came from a certain segment rather than the wider audience.

Sample groups range from extremely large: a national consultation is open to the general public to a smaller group, for example, one restricted to a particular health cohort or limited to a specific organisation.  Each demographic will require targeted methods and different techniques to motivate them to engage with the survey.  

Not to be forgotten is informing participants of the purpose of the research, how their data will be shared, the benefits of their contribution, is crucial.  Letting them know whether the survey is anonymous or confidential, particularly if it’s discusses sensitive or difficult subjects is important too.

people walking

Accessing the survey

Common surveys delivery methods are via online webpages or apps, telephone or paper. At Smart Consult after reviewing the project brief identify the most suitable method to use.  We have found predominantly online surveys meet the needs of our clients and is currently used in 80% of our work.  Online surveys are easily accessible.  Are available when the individual has the time to complete and is easily enabled to address language and learning difference. Additionally, they can be integrated with SMS reminders (to increase participation) or qualitative research methods such as telephone interviews (for greater insight into a topic).

Survey Data Results

Once the survey has closed, analysis and evaluation of the responses are conducted.  The data is reviewed, then coded for themes and insights.  The results are shared with the client or organisation for review and/or implementation.

 

Conclusion

Surveys are a useful tool that can assist an organisation in ascertaining up to date information and/or finding out the opinions of their customers, stakeholders or employees on a range of issues and products.  Surveys are also  relatively inexpensive to deliver, straightforward to compile, and have scope to reach a wide population or group.

If your team or company has a research need, do contact us to see how Smart Consult can assist.

Should you have a research project or request for proposal that you wish to discuss, then please submit the request using the button below.

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