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Don’t you know who I am?!?

I recently received an online survey from a free newsletter that I subscribe to. The very first question asked me how long I’d been a subscriber. What? You’re asking me how long I’ve been a subscriber? Don’t you have that data?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my clients ask similar questions on their surveys. Questions like “How many previous annual meetings have you attended?” or “How long have you been a member?”

In the case of the newsletter above, at least it’s a free newsletter. But if I’ve been paying you to be a member of your organization for years, and you have to ask me how long I’ve been a member, there is something wrong with this relationship (and your data!).

So if you don’t know the answer, don’t ask the question. You’re better off not knowing than embarrassing yourself by telling them you don’t know.

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10 Comments on "Don’t you know who I am?!?"

Rachel - 27 January 2012 Reply

Totally agree about not collecting unnecessary data, or data you have easy access too. What if the survey is anonymous and you are trying to correlate answers from the types of questions you've mentioned to other data collected within the survey. For example, "How do long-time subscribers feel about switching to e-publication?"

    Wes Trochlil - 27 January 2012 Reply

    Rachel, good point! If the survey is truly anonymous, you may need some baseline date in order to make sensible crosstabs. In that case, I'd simply start by stating that the survey is completely anonymous. That way when you ask questions about me, I won't be offended that you're asking me something you should already know.

Robert Wilkins - 27 January 2012 Reply

This post cracks me up. I laughed when the feed came. I agree that if it's an anonymous survey, then generic questions are to be tolerated. But that clearly does not sound like the case in this instance. In my opinion, if I've collected a list of subscribers, it doesn't matter if I'm charging them for a subscription or not. It's hardly intuitive for me to address a survey to John Doe, and then ask John Doe what his name is.

Peter Brown - 28 January 2012 Reply

Wes, are too embedded in finite space. Some companies are so big they have no way of knowing who all their end users are.

    Wes Trochlil - 29 January 2012 Reply

    Peter, I assume this is a tongue-in-cheek comment. Visa, for example, has millions upon millions of customers, and yet somehow is able to know ALL of their end-users. It's the proper use of technology that allows them (and many others) to know their end-users, if they really want to.

Peter Brown - 9 February 2012 Reply

Wes, most gargantuan software companies sell ELAs. For example, Microsoft will sell a 20 million dollar ELA to the Army and all Army personnel and contractors have unlimited access to Sharepoint. There is now way to keep track of this. Think big Wes!

    Wes Trochlil - 9 February 2012 Reply

    Peter, you're missing the point. Those end users are not customers of MS. But you can bet MS knows who the buyer is at the Army, and that's who their customer is. The same goes for my examples above. If you can't keep track of your CUSTOMERS you're not managing your data correctly.

Peter Brown - 10 February 2012 Reply

Wes, what has been the biggest company you ever worked for? Round numbers?

    Wes Trochlil - 10 February 2012 Reply

    Peter, this is getting tedious. My complete bio is on my website. Your question has no relevance to the discussion.

Peter Brown - 11 February 2012 Reply

Wes, it actually does. It confirms you are not on the front-line. You learn from employees who are in the trenches. After all, they are the ones doing the work!!

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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