The following blog post was written by Erica Winters, Supervisor of Research Analytics. This is the first blog post of a two-part series providing insider tips on selecting the right market research professionals.

Market Research Vendors

Picture this — you’ve just been asked to lead your department’s efforts in solving [insert problem here]. Maybe you want to improve your customer or employee satisfaction, or test a new product, or learn more about your competitors. Your team has decided to get some help and are currently looking for a market research vendor to gather some data which will give your team the insight needed to determine a solution. You think to yourself, what should I be looking for to make sure I select a firm that will give me the answers I need and make me look like a rock star? No worries, we’ve got you covered. We love making our clients look like rock stars, and here’s how we do it.

how to conduct market research

  1. Project Setup

First, a market research professional should meet with your team to talk about the project. What are your goals for the project? What information would you like to get out of it? How will you use the findings? These are key questions that will drive the project from start to finish for our team. They should inform you of the script creation, analysis of the data, and development of the report.

online survey market research script

  1. Script Development

Once objectives are confirmed, the market research pros will develop a script that will be used to gather the data. Do you need results quickly? Is the budget slim? If the answers to those questions are yes, you’ll likely want to consider an online survey as a means for the market researchers to collect data. As the script is being developed, make sure your team is able to provide feedback on the survey questions, and make sure the researchers know their stuff. Keep an eye out for these faux-pas to ensure the data collected for your team is top-notch quality:

  • Make sure there are no “leading” questions. The respondent should not be swayed to answer in a certain way. For example, you wouldn’t want to ask your customers “How happy are you with our customer service team?” Instead, you’d be better off asking your customers to rank their level of satisfaction such as “Please rate your level of satisfaction with our customer service team on a 1 to 5 scale, where 1 means “not at all satisfied” and 5 means “very satisfied”.
  • “Loaded” questions are also misleading. This is a common survey writing mistake that can lead to inaccurate data, or low response rates. Loaded questions force a respondent to answer a question that does not allow them to provide an accurate opinion, so make sure your survey vendor avoids this. For example, you wouldn’t want to ask “Which one of our products is your favorite?” unless you have already clarified in a prior question that the respondent likes your products (in which case those who do not like the product(s) will be sent to another section of the survey, or disqualified from continuing). Otherwise there’s an assumption that everyone enjoys the product(s). The other option is giving the respondent a chance to say they don’t like the product(s) by including all possible responses. Not always fun to hear, but important to clarify. We’ll cover that next.
  • Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive – Equally Important. To make sure survey response options are mutually exclusive, watch out for overlapping categories. Similarly, the response options should be collectively exhaustive, which means all possible response options should be provided. You would not want to ask “How many times have you visited our store?” and provide from the following options: 0-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 5+. If someone has visited twice, would they select “1-2” or “2-3”? If they have never visited, they’d need to select “0-1” but that lumps together those who have visited once with those who have never been to the store, and the insights from those respondents could be drastically different. These are mutually exclusive errors because options overlap. Instead the options should be: None, 1-2, 3-4, 5+. These options are also collectively exhaustive because they provide all possible responses. However, if the options were None, 1-2, 3-4, or 5, then we’d be leaving out anyone who has been to the store more than 5 times (that would be a collectively exhaustive error).
  • Watch out for “double-barreled” questions. Make sure questions are not asking the respondent to provide an opinion on more than one topic in the same sentence. Their opinion might be different for those two things. For example, don’t ask “Please rate your level of satisfaction with the location and size of our store.” Instead, you should ask the respondent to rate their level of satisfaction with the store’s location in one question, and ask about their level of satisfaction with the size of the store in a separate question.

Stay tuned to read the 3 final tips for selecting the right market research vendor next week.

RMS is a full-service market research and consulting firm located near Syracuse, New York. If you are interested in learning more about our market research and customer experience survey capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Vice President of Corporate Development at or by calling 866.567.5422.