5 Simple Methods To Keep Your Respondents Happy

happy respondentsIf it was possible I will always put respondents in the balance sheet as – ‘assets’ and why not after all an online panel company is as good as its respondent base. Unless you are a fake company and aggregate panels from other companies – it is MUST to keep your respondents happy and responsive. After spending a considerable amount of money to recruit panel members – if you realize that the response rates are dipping alarmingly – you may end up closing shop. But you need not worry as I am here to help you overcome this potent problem. 

It is not a rocket science to keep your respondents happy – just plain common sense will do the trick.

But first it is very important to understand 3 things:

1- You cannot create new respondents – there is a limited pool of people who participate in online surveys and the rate of new people getting on board is very slow – therefore if you anger the current crop of your respondents it will become increasingly difficult to get required response rates.

2- Incentive is not everything – there are many business owners and panel managers who have this wrong notion that as they are offering incentives the respondents is bound to complete surveys. First of all in most cases incentive amount is not so HUGE and is more of a token of appreciation – it is the respondent’s experience of participating in your surveys that actually excites them to be a part of your panel base.

3- Respondent first and clients second – just because your client is paying you it does not means that you will readily accept an ill design questionnaire – for you respondent should always be the first priority – it will be sheer stupidity to part way with respondents for a bad client.

Now let us look at 5 simple methods to keep your respondents happy:

Method 1: Respect the time of your respondents

The next time you approve an online survey of 45 minutes please remember the time when you are stuck in a traffic jam.

How do you feel at that time? When you can’t move your car an inch and the drivers behind you honking constantly!

Of course you are irritated and angered – that exactly is the feeling a respondent experiences if you submit a lengthy survey.

As you want other people to respect your time – so shall you respect the time of your greatest asset – your respondents.

Sweet time for any online survey is 15-20 minutes – if your survey takes longer time either cut down interview length or increase the incentives substantially.

Method 2: Have an effective incentive management system

Most of the online panel companies fail terribly at creating an effective incentive system – they create incentives on the fly i.e. if the response rate is not as expected they will keep on increasing incentives – so it may be that the person who came initially in the survey gets $2 incentive and the ones who came late to participate gets $6 incentives.

Before fielding your survey there should be clear cut idea as to what incentives needs to be provided to get requisite number of completes.

Ideally you should keep incentives 10% of the CPI – so if the response rate is comparatively low – ask the client to increase the CPI.

Your respondents should also clearly know as to how incentives are earned and how they can redeem it – maintain complete transparency.

Method 3: Create easily accessible respondent’s help desk

Imagine you are standing in a long line to get your favorite fast food  and the moment you reach the counter – there is no one to take your order!

How will you feel at that time?

I am sure you will be shocked and promise yourself never to visit the outlet again.

This is exactly a respondent feels when they take time out of their busy life and click on your survey link and it does not works.

Always provide a help desk number where respondents can call or email to register their problems.

The more proactive you are to address to respondents queries – the better response rate you will get.

Method 4: Establish a vibrant community

Until and unless you create a 2 way dialogue your respondents are in isolation.

Why is it that people respond more on a Facebook status?

The answer is simple – they want to be a part of the conversation thread.

Most of the online panel companies fail miserably here – they just send survey links – get responses – distribute incentives and move on.

What if you are able to create a platform where respondents can share their thoughts more openly and in an engaged manner.

I am sure the results will be astounding!

Method 5: Always Thank your respondents

“I give incentives you give opinions”

It seems that most online panel companies treat their relationship with the respondents as a ‘one night stand’.

Unfortunately that should not be the case – you should nurture your bond with the respondents and create a feeling of belonging.

The first step is always to thank your respondents for their participation and it does not means those standard thank you landing page.

Send personal thank you mail to respondents for participating in the survey.

In one of the companies I worked for I used to actually randomly call few respondents and thank them for their time – trust me all of them were enamored by the gesture.

So over to you – how are you keeping your respondents happy?

Akshay Kanyal

Akshay Kanyal

Akshay Kanyal writes survey research reviews on his popular blog Online MR. He’s an avid blogger, brand consultant and a content marketing expert, helping business owners to craft content that sells.

He provides content marketing advice to start-ups and innovation driven companies. He can be contacted at editor@onlinemr.com

You can also connect with him on LinkedIn ; Facebook ; Twitter