Tuesday 20 November 2012

Survey Report: How not to conduct or sell a survey

Surveys to purvey
Almost two weeks ago, an ex-colleague of mine asked that I fill in a survey to give an opinion about him, his work habits and subjectively assess what areas I felt he could improve on.
I was co-opted into this enterprise from within LinkedIn, the professional social networking site. I believe this survey had been integrated into LinkedIn because it immediately roped me into asking my ex-colleagues to assess me.
There is no doubt that self-assessment surveys trade on our curiosity and if someone thinks there is a monetary prospect in this most subjective element of measuring ourselves against others, it would be exploited.
Better tools
To be honest, I have preferred the concept of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter which has now become a commercial venture but evidently very useful in gauging where I am at emotionally and temperamentally as I project myself in all my interactions.
Survey Report is a different kind of beast, unlike the recommendations you find in LinkedIn or even the new endorsement feature, it apparently follows the Holland Codes Assessment allowing others to offer an opinion of your work personality listed as Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising or Conventional.
My survey returns
Of the over 400 connections I have on LinkedIn, I selected 35 contacts and asked for their opinions about my work personality and since then I have been nagged by Survey Report with emails bordering on spam.
Apparently, Survey Report has conducted 6.2 million surveys and received 1.3 million responses. That is a 21% return on the effort, whilst in my case; I got 28 responses of my 35 requests, which looks like a thumping 80% result.
The propeller-head in charge of research has let me know that I am well liked by my ex-colleagues, I am not too impressed with this view which is reductive at best if not lazy. If they want me to shell out $95 a year to listen to people boost my ego, I need a better proposition than being patted on the head.
Not impressed
It is in view of this that I wrote the letter below to the person in charge at first as an advisory and with the hope that the person with see beyond the critique of the product they are selling to the point that the constructive elements of what I had to say will be taken on board.
When I got the response to my letter, I could almost say that the response was a canned response and no attention was paid to any of what I had to say. Indeed, it would be nice to see the other 23 responses but I have to be sold that proposition convincingly and I hoped they will be curious to know how I determined my dataset to yield an 80% response.
In my view, the survey is flawed and I think LinkedIn can produce a better vehicle for assessments that people will readily use. If I were to be candid, Survey Report is an excess to requirements for assessment and a business proposition in a form that does not have a viable future.
That title I alluded to in my survey that I did not mention but was already formed in my mind was ‘How not to conduct or sell a survey.’
The letter
Thank you for informing me about my report. It is interesting that I carefully chose 35 of my contacts though I have over 400 connections and got 28 responses which from my reckoning is a 80% hit for a 400% result as you say people only get around 7 responses.
Obviously, you have done your surveys and have your statistics; my situation might not be altogether unusual.
Am I curious to know what my colleagues think about me? Indeed I am. Am I willing to pay the $95/year subscription to see the other 23 responses? I have not been persuaded of the cost-benefit of the selection-response assessment view has just been reductively suggested as my colleagues just liking me.
I know I am liked in general, if LinkedIn had a recommendation system that was more point-and-click as your survey, with the direct prompting that accompanied your survey, I probably will get up to 50% of my connections to respond - it is just more than "like".
The endorsement system which LinkedIn introduced just over a month ago has had connections I have not even interacted with for years click and endorse without prompting.
LinkedIn only has to refine this and add this to their premium offering to get people interested and that would be a better proposition to me.
In fact, in surveys as yours, I believe the better draw will be to provide a summary of the data-set with the lure of a more detailed analysis on payment. Of what I seen of the 5, the honest truth is I have not been sold on the rest.
In terms, it looks like a good survey which is lacking in the essential pricing-to-market persuasion that it is patently flawed. I wondered if I had doubled my data-set and still received an 80% hit whether I will be curious to see what 51 others have said for the same price.
This advice is free, methinks, ideas, projections, expectations and drawing-board have to meet again, conversely, all I have said might just be irrelevant.
In closing, this looks like the framework for an interesting blog, I have to think about the title to give it.
I am a curious person but not at any cost and I am sure a majority of those who filled my survey will have a similar view in terms of their self-assuredness.

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