There is an Antidote to Diminishing Crowd Participation
By Charu Gupta

Far too often, survey questionnaires are so long and repetitive that respondents are bored and hardly want to participate. Greenbook recently conducted a study on this issue, “Consumer Participation in Research,” which paints an even grimmer picture than previously thought. “Customer-centricity, user experience, engagement and design are the heart of product development and marketing, but yet are hardly even a consideration in research,” the report’s authors write.

Although this Greenbook research was conducted with consumers, its findings apply to the healthcare sector as well–and the situation is indeed dire. Unless you are working with research methodology that puts the respondent, in this case physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other key stakeholders, at the center of everything.

InCrowd conducts regular customer satisfaction surveys with our internal Crowd of 30,000-plus healthcare stakeholders. Repeatedly, physicians and others tell us that their decision to participate once and then again is directly influenced by how pleasant, user-friendly, and convenient they find the survey experience to be.

In our most recent survey, six out of 10 Crowd members told us that the top three reasons they participate in InCrowd surveys are 1) convenience, 2) ease of taking them, and 3) the clarity of instructions.

“You need to maximize the experience for research participants,” says Tom Lancaster, InCrowd’s former Chief Technology Officer. Respect for respondents is what will keep them coming back.”

This is mission critical for life sciences market researchers today. Doctors are busy with multiple and competing priorities for their time. Lose them once, and you may never get them back. Respect, therefore, becomes the lynchpin to reducing churn in panels—and in turn it means more robust response rates and more reliable, insightful, data.

Here are tips on some of the basic things to think about as you consider how to bring respect for the respondent front and center of every survey you design:

  1. Keep surveys short. GRIT participants confirm that they no longer want 30-45 minute surveys. Nearly half (45%) want surveys that are 10 minutes or less—and this does seem to be a sweet spot for many respondents as several studies have found that respondents are more likely to finish surveys under 10 minutes as they are more windows of time they can fit them into. At InCrowd, short surveys like this are built into the micro methodology of our MicroSurvey platform. We have found that 10-minute surveys take between 2-5 minutes to complete. In the healthcare market research that we do, we find that this means physicians are really concentrating on the questions at hand and providing the best answers.
  2. Make surveys device-agnostic. Not surprisingly, when InCrowd asked in its customer satisfaction survey about the most important features respondents want in surveys, 73% said the ability to take surveys on any device. In another related question, 83% of participants said that they take surveys on a smartphone, with 44% preferring a tablet, laptop, or desktop. Market research suppliers and clients are catching on as well. One market research client told the Greenbook study’s researchers, “Surveys have to be device-agnostic. We are getting to the point where we can’t get representative samples because people are using mobile devices and we simply don’t have mobile-friendly surveys.”
  3. Incentivize well. Nearly four in 10 respondents in the Greenbook study (37%) said that participation incentives were important. Regardless of how incentives are actually disseminated (cash, gift cards, or points for prizes) tangible inducements in a form preferred by respondents are a best practice.

The user experience of survey questionnaire design should not be a quick fix or afterthought. Rather it should revolve around respect for participants’ and be a core pillar of all your market research.

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