Talking to Employees – A Radical Approach to the Employee Survey Process

I’ve just spent the last month or so running an employee survey.  Not every company is brave enough to run one.  At the same time, not every company is brave enough to process the results face-to-face either.

As I was crunching through the numbers; creating, formatting, cutting and pasting charts.  I stopped and took notice of the numbers.  It dawned on me that these average ratings were just numbers that were somehow disconnected from the open-ended responses that came after.

In fact, I found myself thinking that the numbers might actually be irrelevant beyond their most basic function of placing a hash-mark or a tag on the level of engagement or satisfaction so that we can measure change from year to year.  But the actual activities that will create change – won’t come from the numbers; nor will they come from the reading and reviewing of the open ended responses.  The improvement will come from the leadership team’s ability to share these results in a meaningful, non-threatening way with their employees and get their input and perspective on what needs to happen next — in the form of a conversation and not a presentation of results.

The Gallup Organization has developed a Q12 survey that distills those critical attributes that measure employee engagement.  The closer your results mirror the 8 to 1 ratio of engaged employees in the Gallup results, the more profitable you will be.

But the numbers are really just the gateway toward the real goodies that lie within the conversations that you and your employees will have about the data itself and what it means in real life.

Don’t let numbers and measurements substitute good judgement.  Share your goals and objectives with employees, talk to them about their ideas, measure engagement and listen to what they need to get more plugged in.  Then simply work together to put those items in place.

Engaged employees, create engaged and loyal customers.  This combination will yield profits for everyone.

Survey Analytics and Ziff Davis Enterprise Partner in the Feedback Management Space

Provides Leading B2B Technology Media Company with New Tools to Enhance Audience and Marketing Solutions

Seattle, WA –June 29th, 2010 – Survey Analytics today announced that it has partnered with Ziff Davis Enterprise, a leader in innovative enterprise IT media, engagement solutions and services, to provide survey and crowdsourcing solutions to better serve Ziff Davis Enterprise’s network of registered users and marketing clients.

Survey Analytics’ flagship product, QuestionPro, will provide a scalable solution for the thousands of online surveys and feedback forums that Ziff Davis Enterprise utilizes to gather valuable insights from the millions of users and vendors who rely on them for world-class enterprise IT content and marketing solutions and services. Survey Analytics offers a complete set of intuitive online tools for conducting market research, including standard survey templates, a platform for hosting data collection, automatic notifications and an advanced suite of analysis tools for analyzing customer satisfaction.
“The addition of Survey Analytics powerful community feedback solution to Ziff Davis Enterprise’s sterling suite of media options means further insight into the sought-after tech audience,” said Vivek Bhaskaran, President & CEO of Survey Analytics.

“Our audience is comprised of some of the most influential and discerning technology professionals and leaders in the industry. Their insights are at a premium right now,” said Steve Weitzner, CEO, Ziff Davis Enterprise “The Survey Analytics solution will help us not only listen to our customers, but help us continue to offer them superior service and relevant content.”

About Survey Analytics
Survey Analytics offers an enterprise grade research platform for collecting feedback to enable businesses, governments and consumers to participate and learn from each other. Through it’s core businesses of Surveys, Crowdsourcing, Panel Management and Polls – Survey Analytics listening systems enabled businesses and governments to touch their customers and constituents through all major channels – including Web, Email, Social Media and mobile. The self-service and cloud enabled platform empowers companies to execute and deliver on research at real-time and global scale.

The Survey Analytics Platform is used by companies like Motorola, McGraw Hill, CareerBuilder and Agencies of the US Federal government including the FCC, USPS and the GSA.

About Ziff Davis Enterprise
Ziff Davis Enterprise, Inc. is B2B technology’s trusted information resource. Millions of technology buyers rely on our brands – including eWEEK, Baseline, CIO Insight, Channel Insider,, TechDirect, and the Developer Shed network – for relevant, objective content to identify the right solutions for their organizations. Over 300 technology companies, from industry giants to emerging start-ups, rely on our contextual content, marketing, and audience development expertise to compress sales cycles and lower their go-to-market costs. Ziff Davis Enterprise has proven marketing solutions for branding, engagement, and face-to-face events. Products include print and online advertising, eNewsletter sponsorships, content syndication, eSeminars, virtual tradeshows, events, and custom media services. Ziff Davis Enterprise has a global database of 5.5 million users representing an unparalleled community of business and technology professionals, developers, and the channel.

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How to use Conjoint Analysis in the Innovation Process

Webinar Presentation
Thursday July 22nd, 2010
9:00am PST

Ever thought about using Conjoint Analysis as part of your research strategy?

Your customers are constantly making trade-offs when making purchase decisions between you and your competitors. Traditional research questions, such as ranking features and asking pricing sensitivity questions are valuable tools, but often leave you wondering which features are really important and how you should price vs. real competition. So how can you simulate a real-world purchase decision before you go to market?

Conjoint Analysis is a powerful and often under-utilized marketing research tool that can provide powerful insight into how your customers actually think. The resulting information can be used to prioritize features, develop pricing strategies, and estimate market share… all before you develop your product or spend valuable marketing dollars.

Join Survey Analytics and Planning Innovations for this one-hour webinar on how to effectively use Conjoint Analysis in the innovation process to prioritize needs, explore pricing options, and validate your product and service concepts.

We’ll answer:

1) What is Conjoint Analysis and how does it work to simulate real world trade-off decisions?

2) How can you develop Conjoint Studies that provide guidance in innovation planning?

3) How can Conjoint Studies help you predict potential market share for new product concepts?

This webinar will answer these questions and more as well as provide a forum to discuss specific challenges.

Click Here To Sign Up:

About the Presenters:

Dorian Simpson founded Planning Innovations in 2002 to help technology-driven companies launch successful products and services through focused innovation management and planning. He has significant experience in both engineering and marketing to help build the bridge between these two critical innovation functions.

Esther LaVielle is a Senior Account Manager at QuestionPro and Survey Analytics, which was started in 2002 in Seattle and is now one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Prior to her adventure at QuestionPro she spent 3 years as a Qualitative Project Manager at the Gilmore Research Group.

Additional Links:

CMOs and Social Media – Don’t Wait Another Minute

Sometimes the best quotes come tripping off the tongue in a moment of frustration.  About three years ago I was a presenter at a management conference.  My topic was about social media and as I looked across the blank faces of my C-Suite audience, I could see a sort of mix between glazed confusion, doubt and fear.

“This week it’s Twitter and next week it will be something else.  Why do we need to waste our time on this stuff” one audience member said.   I stopped, looked around the room and asked “Who wants to be in business 10 years from now?…15? 20?”  They all raised their hands.

“If you want to be in business in the next 20 years, you’d better know what the 20-year-olds already know and do what they do and communicate in ways where they will respond and relate to you.”  And at that point, their faces turned to just plain fear.

Social media, like any new technology can be a scary thing.  But no more scary than the printing press, the telephone, the television, the fax machine and the myriad other devices that we’ve learned to use and depend on every day.

Tim O’Connor is CMO of PCDI/Ashworth, has written a terrific article in Research Access that addresses this very point.

Think of social media space like digital real estate.  Each person that’s part of your community is a square foot (or meter) of potential value.  Each day you wait to build relationships with your community you are missing out on potential market share and revenue.

This doesn’t mean that you should go blindly into the world of social media — but you certainly must go there.

The Evolution of Online Surveys – Take the Viral with Facebook

I have to admit, I hadn’t really thought much about surveys going viral.  Because in MY world (and we all know that’s the one that counts — right?) I work with customer surveys and that means confidential information.  So the LAST thing on my mind was surveys going viral.

Then I got a call from Vivek (our fearless CEO) asking me to beta test his viral survey concept on DIYMarketers.  Of course I said “yes”, but I just didn’t really get it.  Again.  I was stuck in my own world and couldn’t really see the benefit of surveys going viral.

As we talked Vivek slowly but surely lead me out of my head and into the realm of interesting possibilities;

  • What if you were able to actually collect data from populations that were previously unreachable to you.  For example, say my network or lists consisted mainly of marketing people, but I might want to get the perspective of engineers on this topic.  A viral survey picked up by an engineer and spread to his network would allow the engineer to collect data without creating a survey and allow ME to see how engineers thought differently from marketing people.
  • What if you were able to gather demographic information effortlessly and for FREE?  Connecting with Facebook and it’s monster demographic databases is a researcher’s dream come true.  Viral surveys interfacing with Facebook make that a reality.

So take a moment and learn MORE about how Facebook is changing the face of online surveys – check out this article on Research Access.

Field of Dreams or Field of Morons? Using Ghetto Testing to Avoid Loser Products.

In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner plays a farmer living in rural Iowa, who hears a voice while walking through his cornfield; “If you build it, he will come” (ofter misquoted “If you build it, they will come”) and sees a vision of a baseball field.  Kevin’s character Ray Kinsella plows under his corn and builds the field.  We all know the story.  In the end THEY come; the ghosts of ball players past, including Shoeless Joe Jackson.  And finally in the ending you see miles of car loads of everyday people coming to the field.

The car loads of people come because (if you follow the story line) Ray’s field offers real innovative tangible value, in this case peace.  As the character Terrance Mann says in the movie, “They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack.”  Whoa; that is a marketers dream!

Read the rest of this article by Tim O’Connor, the CMO of PCDI/Ashworth.

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Follow up from Webinar on Thursday June 17th, 2010

On Thursday June 17th, 2010 we teamed up with Dorian Simpson of Planning Innovations on the topic:

Effective Use of Online Surveys for the Innovation Process

The turn out for this topic was fantastic! It has been proven that customer-driven innovation requires a steady flow of real insight from real customers. However, to be successful, the right questions and techniques must be used for each stage of innovation. If used correctly, cost-effective online survey methods can become an essential tool to consistently deliver new, valuable products and services.

Dorian presented on VOC (voice of the customer) techniques that can be applicable to an online survey. Although there is no substitute for doing in-person interviews, the process of gathering and analyzing qualitative data via an online survey can increase efficiencies and deliver real-time data that will allow your firm to stay with or ahead of any industry trends.

The focus of our discussion looked at Customer Problems, Trends of Interest, Feature Priorities, Value Questions, Market Size, Pricing, and Take rate (boxed in red above). In order to clarify this fuzzy stage we must look at discovery and validation technique also known as divergence and convergence methods.

Most surveys are used for “convergence” or validation research

That’s OK… but…

–The set of options you may be testing are assumed to be accurate.

–They typically don’t solicit the problems customers will value

–The language or words used may not reflect how your customers talk about the product or problem

E.g. Home audio speakers – On a scale of 1 to 5:

“How important is it for your headphones to sustain a complex bass tone”???? Very Important!

Convergence surveys without understanding customer language, real problems, and options THEY desire lead to missed opportunities and can often misdirect innovation efforts.

Tips in using Voice of the Customer Techniques:

1.Seek attitudes, problems and needs (not product features and functions)

2.Use open-ended questions to solicit more detailed responses

3.Process results

1.Break down responses into bites

2.Look for trends, clusters, and themes

3.Seek clues that can be used to test further and create hypothesis for valuable opportunities

Use your surveys to solicit problems! Consumers have gotten accustomed to sharing thoughts in threads in short bursts. Texting, emailing, IM’ing, Facebooking, tweeting, etc.

Often the ‘open-ended’ results are the most interesting and enlightening part of survey responses.

Additional Tips to Implement during the Innovation Process:

1.Write your survey as if you were in a 1-on-1 interview

2.Results are “qualitative”, so set goals to receive 30-40 responses

3.Conduct multiple surveys to various target groups to test different questions to find those that gain real insight

4.You can ask more intimate questions of current customers than potential customers, but don’t let that stop you from trying!

5.Follow general good online survey techniques

-Test your survey

-Make it clear responses keep strictly confidential

-Keep survey results to 15-20 minutes

-Provide incentives

6.Conduct threaded surveys – Get responses, then send out follow up surveys to the same group to elaborate on response themes (not specific responses.. that’s creepy)

7. Use visuals of the task to ask questions such as adding a sketch of someone waking up to get users to think about the problem

8.Get creative and try to make it fun for your customers to give you thoughtful and honest responses

About the author: Dorian Simpson founded Planning Innovations in 2002 to help technology-driven companies launch successful products and services through focused innovation management and planning. He has significant experience in both engineering and marketing to help build the bridge between these two critical innovation functions.

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The Only 5 Questions We Really Care About Answering

The primary reason we do any survey project is so that we can make decisions; for example, should I stay open for 24 hours/7 days a week or will our customers pay more for this potential new feature?  These are all good and worthy decisions.  But when you take even a closer look, we’re making these decisions because our main objective is to become the obvious choice for that ideal customer.  And for that to happen, we have to have clear answers to the following questions:

  1. Who is our ideal customer? These are typically demographic questions such as gender, education level, income level or location.  You can expand these questions to find out your customer’s occupation or if your ideal customer is a parent, pet owner.   Don’t skimp on demographics or psycho graphics.  If anything get really creative with them.  You might consider doing a survey with nothing but profiling questions that include where your customers shop, or where they prefer to eat.  It’s critical to know as much as possible about your ideal customer so that you can begin focusing your marketing decisions around their preferences.
  2. What do they struggle with? Another root set of data that market researchers are searching for within their ideal customer is “what they struggle with.”  What are the 5 to 7 frustrations that they are dealing with when it comes to interacting with our product or service?  If you are a golf accessories company and you ask your ideal what frustrates them about their golfing experience, you might get responses such as “expensive golf clubs getting wet during a rain storm.”  If you get enough of those responses, you may think about developing a golf accessory that protects golf clubs in the rain.  In fact — there is such a thing as an umbrella for your golf clubs — the Drizzle Stick.
  3. What does your ideal customer really WANT? No matter how you phrase the question (and there are countless creative formats) all we really want to know is what our customer will actually purchase as a solution.  What is it that they WANT?  Of course they’re NOT going to say that they want something that doesn’t exist yet — in the 1960’s the average person would NOT have known that they wanted a microwave. They wanted hot food fast.  One good way to get at these wants is to give your respondents some examples of product offerings and combinations and see how they rate them.
  4. What sets you apart from the other guy. Competitive analysis or benchmarking is critical if you want to increase the profitability of your product and build your brand.  My favorite way to measure or identify differentiators or competitive advantage is to ask Importance/Satisfaction questions.  The key to asking these kinds of questions is getting the attributes just right.  For example “How important is it that your tires have a run-flat safety feature?”  instead of asking “How important is it that your car has tires.”
  5. What benefits do your customers perceive? Because we all choose and purchase based on emotion — it’s important to understand specifically, what emotional benefits our customers receive from our products and services.  The more we connect with our customers on an emotional level and provide that benefit — the more likely they are to choose us.  This is an ideal place to use matrix questions that rate the degree to which customers agree or disagree with a variety of “benefit” statements.  Here is an example “I can count on Service X to pull me out of a bind.”

No matter why you are doing a survey, you’ll find these 5 questions at the core of “WHY” you want to know.  Remember, your respondents will read or spend time with absolutely ANYTHING as long as they are at the center of it.  Be sure to keep these 5 questions in mind when creating your survey and everyone involved will save time, aggravation and money.

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Two Prongs: A new approach to integrating social media and market research

Social media, as everyone is aware, is dramatically changing the way we conduct research. A recurring theme within the blogosphere is whether we can use social media listening for research, leaving clients from every sphere of the market research spectrum asking the same questions: When and how should we use social media data in our research? And more importantly, how much is too much?

I recommend using a two-pronged approach to data integration.
The first approach involves traditional online surveys with an important twist – a social media sample that is opt-in and conducted while members have discretionary online time and are engaged in the social media arena. Surveys embedded within social networks and applications enable interviewing actual users of the social media sites. This also ensures that surveys are presented only while the profiled and opted-in social media survey respondents are engaged in a social media site or application; no bothersome and potentially leading email invitations that may or may not be replied to in the near future. The key is to provide respondents with a survey only when they have indicated they want to offer their opinion.

The second part involves social media measurement and analysis. In order to build a great brand, you must listen – and by that, I mean listening through channels where your consumers are conversing. Look beyond social media monitoring in order to correctly gauge and understand what your brand consumers are talking about. Utilize a research analysis tool, as true market research data needs to be in-depth and offer something more than just a social media web crawler.

The future for social media, market research and data integration is evolving at tremendous speed. Therefore, traditional market research and social media listening must complement one another in order to make research better. Now is a critical time to make intelligent marketing recommendations that provide valuable insight to understand and act upon what is happening through social media.

About the Author: Rick Wilson is the Vice President of Strategic Accounts at Peanut Labs and has worked in the market research industry for over 20 years. Experienced in all phases of the market research process, he brings with him valuable insight and expertise in the industry.

Goverment 2.0 – Moving Beyond Participation and Engagement

Ever since Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, technology and internet for politics has changed from a medium to a platform. The 2008 campaign is often cited as a case study for its inordinate and efficient use of the internet, online-tools and services to engage and organize campaign workers, messaging, and everything in between. Here are some bits and pieces of information that I’ve overheard:

  • The campaign website was built on Drupal (Open Source)
  • The campaign allowed you to invite others to join the movement and create geographic communities
  • The campaign used SMS/Text messaging to announce the VP Pick – thereby communicating not only via email, but now through SMS/text also.

Get the whole story at Research Acccess

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