Whether you're talking to your customers, your channel partners or your own employees, satisfaction is one of the most important variables you can measure when you begin research, and it can yield powerful information. Satisfaction research can be conducted both qualitatively and quantitatively, and often, some hybrid of the two is employed to get the "big picture."
But one mistake that organizations commonly make is to try to conduct satisfaction research on their own without having a trained researcher work with them to develop or administer the survey. Trying to conduct satisfaction surveys in this manner can result in insufficient, untrustworthy or skewed data, and response rates tend to be low. What's more, it's difficult to assess how accurate and reliable the data is because of issues pertaining to response bias.
Satisfaction research is best conducted by an independent third party, and while the sponsoring organization can and should play a role in the development of the survey instrument, a professional researcher will be aware of what sorts of questions have been shown to get the needed information... and what questions are best left unasked.
The most common form of satisfaction research involves deriving baseline statistics from a random sample and then making comparisons at set intervals (such as every quarter or every year). Professional researchers can also suggest advanced techniques that can discover valuable information with the data.
One of the most valuable applications of satisfaction studies is in using the data to construct predictive models to understand which variables are most likely to have an impact on satisfaction in the future. With a properly designed study, researchers can often look at the data and uncover the most important variables for improving overall satisfaction down the road.
With large-scale studies, it is often possible to uncover groups of respondents who offer similar answers to a variety of questions. Through careful analysis, researchers can often uncover specific segments that may be affecting satisfaction in some way. One application is to examine the group of respondents who express low satisfaction and to determine what makes these respondents distinct and different from the rest. By correcting the issues that are causing low satisfaction, often, overall satisfaction can be improved for all respondents over time.
While conducting large-scale qualitative studies has been costly and time-consuming in the past, professional researchers now have the tools to conduct a thorough examination of statements offered by respondents to look for common themes and phrases. It is now possible to segment out verbatim responses and to uncover what specific groups of respondents are expressing in their own words - which provides a wonderful context for the numerical data.
Of course, that’s not all we do at the Research & Planning Group. If you’d like to view a complete catalog of our services, we have one available! You can read the online version here, or you can download a printable PDF version here.