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FAQ: Data Collection

Which survey methodology is right for me? Online, telephone, or paper?

NBRI considers a number of factors before recommending a research methodology. We review the availability of email addresses, telephone numbers, and physical mailing addresses. We also examine the overall population size because how the survey is deployed impacts response rates. Multiple deployment methodologies may be required to achieve valid data. Learn more about survey deployment.

How do confidentiality concerns affect survey participation?

Before a survey becomes part of the culture, there are often issues of mistrust. Once it is part of the culture, these issues are greatly reduced. Management will have proven that no individuals have been singled out because of certain survey answers and that the survey is designed to identify organization-wide and/or customer base issues. A much higher level of trust is often seen after only one survey.

Still, prior to the first survey, communicating several facts in advance of deployment are important. For instance, it should be communicated that management sincerely wants this feedback, that identification of organization-wide issues is the goal (and not targeting of individuals), that this is a multi-year process and not a single event. We also recommend that data be cut to no fewer than 30 entities (employees or customers) in any single demographic to protect the anonymity of the respondents. The ‘no less than 30’ general rule also protects the statistical validity of the results.

Regardless of what steps may be taken to maximize participation on the first employee and/or customer survey an organization conducts, participation is still typically lower than with later surveys. However, higher participation rates are achieved on initial surveys and future surveys, regardless of deployment methodology, when advance communications are provided to the intended respondents.

How should the survey be deployed?

There are a number of factors to consider when determining the deployment methodology. For example, the population size because how the survey is deployed will impact the response rate. The population size and the response rate determine the ability to reach valid data. Accessibility and the type of contact information available for the population also comes into play. Surveys may be deployed online, by telephone, or paper.

Online Surveys – Online data collection methodologies are fast and generally less expensive than other deployment methods. An online survey is accessible through a desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet with internet access making it simple for people to respond. The ability to send announcement, invitation, and reminder emails bolsters response rates.

Telephone Surveys – Telephone Surveys are available for those instances where paper or online deployment is not possible or preferred. Telephone surveys can be used for preliminary interviews to determine survey content or as the survey itself. Telephone surveys are especially useful for highly mobile populations who may not be able to be surveyed otherwise. Because telephone surveys typically have a higher response rate than online and paper deployment methodologies, they are an excellent choice for small populations.

Paper Surveys – Paper is the most universal deployment method and is generally easy for respondents, but it’s expensive and the response rate is usually 10% at best. A paper survey may be handed out to employees/customers or each survey may be placed in a pre-addressed, postage-paid return envelope. Participants remove the survey from the envelope, reinsert the completed survey into the envelope, and mail it back for processing.

What about confidentiality?

Most employees are concerned about the confidentiality of their survey responses while most customers are not. NBRI provides each client with a project plan that contains communications for the target audience to address these concerns. When clients communicate with the target audience in the manner recommended by NBRI, issues regarding confidentiality and anonymity are eliminated.

What deployment methodologies are available through NBRI?

NBRI offers online, telephone, and paper deployment methodologies. One methodology may work well for you or a combination of methodologies may be required to reach your target audience.

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