Recently I have been expanding on a previous post “Successful Surveys: Ask the Right Questions”, which offers a step-by-step approach to developing a focused and results-driven survey research project. Here we will address the third question listed in the original post; do you have an open communication channel with the target respondent? Considering the most effective means of communication (in terms of cost, reach, and success rate) will help determine the best way to deliver your research tool. While direct mail campaigns tend to yield strong response frequencies among highly engaged participants, online survey tools are a cost effective way to reach a large population of potential respondents. Ultimately, this decision will depend on variables such as available resources, the budget allocated to this project, and the location of the desired target respondents.
Discussing the appropriate mode of delivery will require additional decisions to be made, such as whether you are interested in feedback from new customers, existing customers, or past customers. Establishing the ideal respondent will help uncover existing communication channels or it can highlight the need to establish new communication channels. The type of customer will determine viable options:
– New Customers
- Direct Mail
- Brand Activation Touch Points (e.g. Promo Booth)
– Existing Customers
- Direct Mail
- Point of Purchase
- Pre/Post-Purchase Engagement
– Past Customers
- Direct Mail
For instance, you may hold an internal data base of existing client information which can be a source for Email or Residential Addresses. To further illustrate the importance of effectively utilizing an open communication channel with potential respondents, consider the following:
Kohl’s regularly scores well in customer satisfaction studies conducted by third-party research firms. Their customer service strategies are guided by internal efforts to understand how their customers feel about the shopping experience from a service perspective. After making an in-store purchase, customers are encouraged to participate in an online survey. This invitation is communicated in-person by store employees AND reinforced with a printed message on the customer’s purchase receipt. Additional information regarding research objective and purpose is also included on the receipt to strengthen the likelihood of participation. Incentives offered to potential respondents include contest entries and/or merchandise discounts, which helps drive interest. Communicating with customers at the point of purchase ensures that the recipient is engaged, the research objective and subject matter are relevant, and the survey invitation is clearly received. This is a reliable communication channel, as Kohl’s understands that it will regularly have access to existing customers at a point when they are fully engaged in the purchase experience.