You’ve come this far. If you’ve conducted your survey yourself, and conducted it correctly, it has been a long process, hopefully made easier by this series of articles.
Don’t take your foot off of the gas now! After analyzing survey data, do something about it!
You now know the root cause(s) of your issues(s). Brainstorm on ideas to correct the issues, construct a plan of action, and get to work.
If you do not follow through on the results of your survey research, you have wasted your time and money and that of your customers and/or employees. Inaction will make respondents less likely to participate in future surveys. But, if respondents see action as a result of your survey they will know that their time in completing your survey was not wasted.
So, how do you proceed? Start by creating an Action Plan.
Action Planning has the following specific steps.
- Step One – Assessment. You’ve already done this. This is your survey analysis.
- Step Two – Select the issues. You’ve already done this, as well. These are your root causes. Be sure you have selected the correct ones.
- Step Three – Brainstorm on Solutions. Take your time on this. It should take your team about a week to put together a list of possible solutions to address your root causes.
- Step Four – Develop a Short List. Give everyone on your action planning team a chance to comment. Then, select your final short list of solutions to your root causes by a majority vote.
- Step Five – Obtain approvals. Obtain approvals from senior management to proceed with the short list of action items.
- Step Six – Implement the Solutions – Create clearly defined steps, goals, timelines, and milestones to achieve each and every one of your approved short list of action items.
You have now successfully completed a scientific research study. The knowledge you have obtained (If you TAKE ACTION!) will have a huge impact on your business, your customers, your employees, and most importantly your bottom line.
And just when you thought you were done…..
There is one more Step: DO IT ALL AGAIN!
How do you know if your actions have been successful? How do you know which areas of your business have improved and which areas need more attention? You won’t unless you repeat the process. You’ll need to resurvey and complete the action planning process at regular intervals going forward. Most successful companies survey employees once or twice per year. Customer surveys are conducted weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually depending upon the number of customers and how quickly feedback is required to correct your course of action.
Benchmarking your current and future survey results against other companies is extremely important to be able to gauge your progress. And checking your progress against yourself year after year is absolutely imperative.
This is the continuous improvement process. Review the diagram above once again. Note that continuous improvement is a circular process, ending with “Implement the Solutions”, but beginning again with the “Assessment” during the next cycle. Only by resurveying will you know if you are making progress.
I started this series of articles almost a year ago. Then, I was a complete rookie surrounded by survey research professionals. Back then, like many people, I thought a survey was as simple as asking a few questions and “listening” to the answers. Now I have a much better grasp of what is involved in conducting a scientific research study. I now realize that to obtain valid results the process must follow stringent procedures and guidelines. Otherwise, it is an exercise in futility, and even worse might yield inaccurate information which if acted upon could cost your company millions of dollars in lost productivity and revenue.
For this reason, and not because I am toeing the company line, I still believe that survey research is a process best left to the survey experts. I hope that these articles have given readers an understanding of the core competencies required to successfully conduct a scientific research study.