Comment Reports consist of verbatim responses to open-ended survey questions. By definition, comments and words are qualitative data, so it is considered ‘soft’ data in that it has not been proven to be representative of the thinking of the population.
Open-ended comments are most useful with preliminary research; that is, research that seeks to answer the question of what information should be gathered by a formal survey. NBRI’s Text Analytics identify themes within comments, and further identify important aspects of each theme. For instance, ‘Benefits’ may be a common theme, and ‘Health Insurance’ may be a salient aspect of the theme. With preliminary research as a sound basis for constructing a formal survey, management is assured that all issues of importance are included in the formal study.
One or more open-ended questions may also be included in the formal survey. When used to identify any themes that may have been omitted, management is able to modify the survey before subsequent deployments. Again, NBRI’s Text Analytics are most helpful in this endeavor.
However, Clients often mistake survey comments for hard data, and risk being persuaded by them. This is because comments are more personal than scores, making them more appealing and engrossing than quantitative data. The danger lies in the Psychology of Repetition which states that the human brain registers a piece of information as fact when one has been exposed to it as little as three times. So, when management reads comments from 1,000 employees or customers, and the same subject matter is mentioned 3, 10, or 20 times, management will have the impression that the issue is a widely held fact within the organization, when it is actually the opinion of so few as to not even warrant discussion. NBRI recommends using comments solely for the purpose of preliminary research and improving the formal survey so that our Clients are not misled by spurious information.
Upon request, proper names and profanity may be removed, and comments may be sorted by any demographic used to sort the quantitative survey data in the data reports, such as division, business unit, or department.