You are as good as your panel’s response rate. The very backbone of an online panel company is their respondents base – Don’t IGNORE THEM!! Having built access panels for a few companies I am quite surprised by the sheer lack of enthusiasm amongst panel companies’ vis-à-vis maintaining a healthy panel base. Most of the time a panel base is recklessly considered just a golden goose for harvesting cash. In the long run this attitude is quite detrimental to the business viability.
During one of my client visit in Singapore I came across a peculiar problem – the client having used a number of different panel providers had begun to encounter inconsistencies and was worried about the authenticity of the respondents it had interviewed.
The client was under the impression that all online panels are maintained using similar methodologies and industry best practices.
I was visibly shocked by the fact that multimillion dollar decisions are being made on information garnered from dubious quality panel base.
Outlining here 6 effective steps for a better panel management:
1- Don’t go merely by the number of recruited members.
It has been observed that many people enroll themselves and then go silent when it comes to responding to surveys.
A panel manager has to identify these members and after due diligence purge them out of the system.
It is very critical that we identify such SILENT MEMBERS as they are misleading in terms of giving true picture of the panel base.
2- A reasonable and efficient incentive system is must for ensuring a prompt panel base.
Always remember: the part of internet population willing to participate in surveys is very limited and any disenchantment on their part with your company will result in poorer response rates.
One good idea will be for every activity big or small adequate incentive should be provided.
It is also advisable that respondents should be able to login and see how many incentives they have earned till date and what kind of redemption facilities are available.
Panel companies can here take a cue from the strong and effective incentive system implemented by retail companies.
3- Respect the time and effort of your respondents – the very reason online surveys have become so popular is that they are non-intrusive in nature.
I would like to share a vicious cycle which runs in most of the panel companies: ignorant clients don’t factor in enough time for the field work and therefore pressurize the sales people; who in turn pushes the project managers to wrap up the field work at the earliest; the project managers passes on the baton to the sample managers who recklessly send invites many a times multiple times to a single respondent, resulting in huge panel attrition.
DON’T BURN YOUR PANEL – PUSH THE CLIENT NOT THE RESPONDENT.
4- Effective and prompt support / assistance are required whenever an issue arises for the respondents.
You will be SHOCKED to know that apart from few big panel companies the help desk is completely missing. In case problems arise during a LIVE survey it becomes all the more critical to proactively help the respondents.
Help desk should ideally be divided into 2 separate units – (a)- For managing incentives/gifts (b) For technical assistance.
5- Numbers of panel companies are completely blind in terms of effectively monitoring e-mail delivery resulting in mismanagement of panel base.
The bias which arises from delivery issues will adversely affect the response rates with some respondents unfortunately getting more mails than others.
6- Privacy policies should be strictly adhered to- respondent information is a responsibility and therefore the system should be robust and tamper proof.
Many times due to faster delivery pressure more survey invites are sent then what a respondent has allowed for.
It results in unnecessary panel attrition and poorer response rates.
Now you have a choice. You can comment, share, or implement. I prefer if you implement, but I’ll appreciate all three – Akshay Kanyal