As market researchers, we are dedicated to our craft. We work with numbers and text responses and turn them into stories. We often hand this information over to our colleagues or customers so that they can use this valuable information to become successful, but we don’t always know if what we are doing is making an impact, and sometimes we do not have the courage to ask.
Throughout this article, I have weaved my own story of how I went from just doing my job in market research, to being courageous and stepping out of my comfort zone in order to get feedback, and then acting on the feedback so that I knew that the work I was doing was making an impact!
My first market research position was with a cable channel in New York. I worked in the advertising sales team, and I produced market research reports on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I spent tons of hours getting this work done, but never knew how the final product was being used. I did not know if it was helpful or useful in any way. I was just doing my job.
I’ve talked about taking action as being the most important step in the great survey design process , but after you set the wheels in motion to take action, you need to get feedback.
Get Feedback After You Create Your Action Plan
What, you might be saying? But isn’t action the most important part of the great survey design cycle? Well yes it is!
But after you have taken action on your survey results, how can you take action on becoming a better researcher unless you get feedback from your co-workers and stakeholders? Well, you can’t, unless you get that valuable data.
I enrolled and took a management training class, which talked about stepping out of your comfort zone and taking the emotions out of work in order to get valuable feedback. I decided to take a chance.
We often feel apprehension about soliciting feedback. It can be frightening, but it is so important to collect this information. Quite often, the anticipation about the feedback is so much more frightening than then the actual feedback that we receive.
Getting Survey Feedback: The Method
Now is the time to get feedback on your role in the process, the survey, the results and the steps for action.
The best way to do this is with….
Wait for it…Wait for it…..
This survey can be in-person or online, but it should be short and should be fielded to anyone involved in the survey design, build and analysis process; this includes stakeholders and co-workers. Ideally this survey should be about five questions long asking the basics about the project and providing an open-ended essay-style question for any additional feedback.
I gathered a group of my internal customers in a room, and one at a time I held up the research reports that I had spent countless hours working on, and asked some crucial questions: Do you use this? How do you use it? How can it be improved?
The questions I ask in feedback surveys vary depending on the project that I am working on, but in general I like to ask:
- If the process would be recommended to co-workers
- Rating the survey project on: speed, quality and presentation
- If the project produced the expected results
- What could be done better
- Additional comments that may help improve the process
It is crucial that you ask which aspects of the project worked and which did not, as well as be provided with suggestions on ways that you can improve so that you can incorporate these steps into your next project and amend your overall process.
The next hour was filled with some pretty harsh criticism about the projects that I had spent lunch hours and late nights working on. Along the way, I kept a smile on my face and reiterated that any and all feedback would be helpful.
After the meeting was over, I went to the bathroom and cried — I mean, you can only turn your emotions off for so long. Once I gathered up my composure, I got back to work.
It ends up that all the work I was doing was not being used at all. Most of the research that I was churning out was seen as a nuisance, and not useful at all.
But since I had stepped out of my comfort zone and asked for feedback, I was now armed with the information to create market research reports that my customers needed.
Sharing the Feedback
Once you have collected the data from your feedback survey, you should share this information with the stakeholders and the team that worked on your project. Ideally this can be shared in a short email. Included in this email should be:
- The survey goal and learning objectives
- The key finding of the study
- Actions that have been planned, and if there has been any progress on these actions. Be sure to highlight financial information or return on investment (ROI) if available
- Planned improvements for your next project
- A conclusion with the value that was delivered by this study
Even though you are sharing this information, it is important to know that this feedback is for YOU. Look at this information as valuable data that shoes you have done your job well!
Now that you have feedback from your stakeholders, you need to take the action needed to incorporate any suggestions and recommendations for your next project. Sometimes, it takes time to make these changes. Start with one improvement at a time and continue to assess along the way.
I worked methodically on making changes to my current reports and even creating new reports. I made progress slowly; one product at a time, and always asked for feedback on a regular basis so that I could tweak the products as needs changed.
Step Out of the Comfort Zone and Reap the Rewards
Now getting feedback on ourselves is something that market researchers are not always comfortable doing! But, it is important to step out of your comfort zone and to complete this part of the great survey design cycle. The results that you reap will be invaluable to your success.
That year, I received the highest performance review of anyone in my company’s history. And I felt a huge sense of self-worth as I knew that my customers were using and benefiting from the research that I was producing!
So don’t hold back! Get out there and get the feedback from your market research projects and keep improving. Because if you continue to get better at what you are doing there is nothing that can stop you from taking over the world! Or, at least being the best market researcher that you can be!
If you have any success stories about incorporating survey feedback back into your survey project, we would love to hear it!