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#310: Survey Tools for Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 21, 2010
Updated: Monday, May 24, 2010
Clients are asking for more survey work from my firm. Several years ago I used a popular commercial online tool but want to explore other options. What are some tools and by what criteria would I select them?

Surveys are a (sometimes overdone) fact of life in organizations. Online surveys have become so cheap to administer that most organizations readily use them to check on employees and customers or to do market research. However, the design and interpretation of surveys is a skill (i.e., get some help if this is not your area of expertise), so don't let the ease of administration entice you into conducting a poorly designed or interpreted survey.

Your first step is to be sure you have a legitimate reason to conduct a survey. Given the number of surveys people are asked to take, yours needs to be compelling and of interest to the respondent. It should lead to some action (e.g., improving employee benefits, developing new products) that benefits the respondent, rather than just collecting information that is interesting to you. Make it clear in the survey that respondents will get to see results (if appropriate) and they will benefit from the research. Also, most online tools provide for redirection at the end of the survey to a specified website that you can use to provide more information or access a free report as consideration for completing the survey.

Tip: A good summary of how to select a survey service and listing of vendors is a useful start to selecting the right tool. These tools range from simple to complex (with corresponding pricing), with the latter including skip logic (branching), randomization of a list of responses (to reduce sequence bias), and built in analysis (cross tabs, filters, statistical analysis and report graphing). A session with an experienced survey researcher will help you get familiar with the new online tools and better understand how to design and administer surveys your clients will value.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  consulting tools 

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