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I’ve Answered the Survey; Now What?
24 September 2009, by , in Data Management, 4 comments

I hate surveys. I’ve made it clear to anyone who will listen that I only answer one-question surveys. If your survey has pages of questions, sorry, I ain’t answerin’. I practice what I preach by conducting only one-question (okay, technically three) surveys, like my “What’s plaguing associations” survey or my BI survey.

So I was pleased to receive from ASAE a three-question survey about my membership experience. They asked how important my membership is (very), how satisfied I am (somewhat), and how I rate my investment (excellent value).

So I answered. But now what? What will ASAE do with that information? I’m no statistician, but is there anything actionable from a survey this brief and general?

The objecive of my one-question surveys is to get a general sense of the market about a specific topic (e.g., what kind of database issues associations are facing). It’s purely qualitative. But with ASAE’s survey, I’m not sure what they can learn from these ratings.

So before you ask your members or customers to complete a survey, be sure you can answer this question: “Once we get the answers to our survey, what will we do with that information?”

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4 Comments on "I’ve Answered the Survey; Now What?"

Chris Bailey - 24 September 2009 Reply

Wes, it sounds like they're trying to establish baseline or trending data on the health of their membership. If any of those three variables begins to decline or improve, they may be able to determine causes. So here are my questions. How are they sampling or is this a full membership blast? What is the timing for these surveys: every 3, 6 or 12 months? And - here's probably the second most important question - how are they using these results to measure action? If they see a decline in trending toward negative satisfaction, how will they know what this is attached to? One of the reasons why quantitative data collection alone is insufficient is that it rarely helps the organization delve deep enough to move in a focused direction. Hopefully, ASAE is also including enough qualitative data collection to balance their results toward action. Which does come back to your question, which I believe is definitely the most important one to ask: what will they do with their information? I'm hoping this isn't just a survey sent for its own sake (or to appease someone's curiosity). As an anthropologist, I'd like to see this as a part of ASAE's integrated data gathering and analysis efforts using quantative and qualitative methods.

Wes Trochlil - 24 September 2009 Reply

Thanks for your thoughts, Chris. I agree, I hope this is part of a broader effort. Wes

Monica Dignam - 24 September 2009 Reply

Hello Wes Over the years we have experienced declining response rates to our annual survey. This year, we decided to try this short survey asking only the 'independent' variables (overall importance, satisfaction and value for dues paid) to see if we could improve response rates. This short survey was sent to all members -- not a sample and will be connected to our data mining activities where we will be able to see how people answer these questions in the context of their activity. So, to answer Chris' question it IS part of a broader effort. The ability to connect member importance/satisfaction with engagement is something we have been trying to do for a long time and with a new data mining product offered through SPSS we can now do that. This allows for us to see the key drivers of satisfaction from an actual performance perspective. In addition the member's perception of importance of membership and their satisfaction with membership are dashboard indicators that are important to the Board. We provide that on an annual basis.

Wes Trochlil - 24 September 2009 Reply

Monica, thanks for your response. (It dawned on me today that maybe I should have asked these questions to ASAE directly!) I'm glad to learn this is part of a broader effort. And as I said above, I'm happy to answer three question surveys! I hope you can learn something from it. Wes

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Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
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International Registration Plan

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