An Association Executive recently said this in a Board of Directors meeting: “While I do believe in member surveys, it’s the involved members who answer, not the un-involved ones. Consequently, I’m not a fan of surveys.”
Is this objection a valid reason to doubt or avoid member research?
1. AEs who research every year with the same survey give feedback that’s inline with this:
“We get as much negative feedback as positive responses,” says Dawn Kennedy, CEO, SLAR. “We take a longitudinal approach. We do the same purposeful sampling every year with essentially the same questions. The year-over-year survey helps account for self-selection bias. Ideally we want to see very happy even happier and are the unhappy less unhappy.”
The survey offers a wide variety of feedback, suggesting that members of varying satisfaction and involvement are part of the responses.
2. The definition of a statistically valid survey is this:
“A method based on the assumption that, within a given confidence level and allowance for sampling risk, a randomly selected sample of items from a population will reflect the same characteristics that occur in the population.” (All business.com)
In other words, know up front your tolerance for the confidence level and margin for error, you can be sure that your results are a valid representation of your full population.
3. If you remain unconvinced, there is a way to trust but verify your survey results and even take them to a next level of analysis:
Once you complete your executive summary and full analysis, take a next step to collect some unanswered or second-level questions and ideas through a focus group.
Consider assembling like-members (two or three of your survey segments) for no more than a 1-hour focus groups. Prepare your question well, and be clear about the goal of the session.
You’ll collect ideas, get clarity, and listen to the voice of the customer. This helps you fully utilize your survey results and plan your next steps.