The following blog post was written by Erica Winters, Supervisor of Research Analytics. This is the second post of a two-part series providing insider tips on selecting the right market research professionals. If you missed the first part, catch up by checking it out here.
In the first part of this series, we covered the project setup and script development phases of the market research process. We also touched on some of the insider tips to ensure the firm you’re working with is creating a data collection instrument that will produce high-quality data. From there we’ll move onto the data collection phase of the process. This is where the real fun begins!
3. Data Collection
Ask the market research pro what their process entails during the data collection phase. Make sure your team will be able to approve the survey instrument prior to the start of data collection to ensure your priority questions will be covered. Also ask how often they will be in contact with you. What information will they provide in the updates? Is any preliminary data needed to inform ongoing operations for your team? If so, make that part of your agreement. How long will data be collected? A good firm will customize the data collection around your team’s needs, and provide customized recommendations during this process.
Once data has been collected, the market research pro will start to work their magic. Make sure they’re giving the analysis phase the rigor that is needed to ensure quality results. Ask them what data quality checks they perform on the data prior to the start of analysis. Look for a firm that mentions the following:
- Look for straightliners. These are respondents who speed through the survey in record time by selecting the same response option over and over again. This can be a common red flag in surveys with grid or scaling questions (where someone may just click through by selecting “5” for every question without reading).
- Check the time it took the respondent to complete the survey. If the survey should take 5-7 minutes to complete, and someone finished the entire thing in 1.5 minutes, the survey firm should be looking deeper at that respondent’s answers to determine if their data should be included or tossed out to protect data integrity.
- Review open-ended comments. Are all of a particular respondent’s open-ended questions left blank? Did the respondent type gibberish for each one? Open-ended feedback can be critical for some studies, so quality is important here.
- Include “quality-control” questions. If you’re asking a lot of scaling or grid questions (asking someone to rate their opinion on a 1-5 scale for example), make sure the market research professional includes a quality control question. This would be something along the lines of “To ensure data quality, please select ‘3’ for this question.” Those who do not select 3 would raise a red flag.
In general, we go by the rule of three. If a respondent fails three of these quality control mechanisms, then we remove their responses from the analysis to protect data quality.
Talk to the market research firm about the final deliverable you will receive for the project. Are you looking for raw data so that your team can put together your own report? Would you prefer a visual summary (dashboard) of key findings to use in a presentation? Or would a full report with specific findings, next steps and recommendations on what to do next be most helpful? These produce very different deliverables, and impact the timeline of the project, so it’s important to clarify this information when selecting a market research firm. Also make sure that the deliverables are customized to fit your needs. A good firm will work with you to ensure you get the information you need, in the format that will be most useful.
So to recap, when looking for the right market research firm, make sure the market research firm you choose will make you look like a rock star. They should confirm your objectives, create an unbiased survey script, keep you informed during data collection, check for quality during data analysis, and prepare a final report or deliverable that is customizable to your team’s needs.
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 capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Vice President of Corporate Development at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 866.567.5422.