Are self-completion surveys better than personal interviews?

As experts in multichannel survey software, we speak with people daily about which channels they use to run survey projects, and which channels they don’t use.

The primary difference between the most frequently chosen channels (online, telephone, IVR and face-to-face) is the presence of an interviewer. Two use interviewers, and two rely on respondents to navigate their own way through the survey.

So why do researchers choose one channel over another? Both have pros. And both have cons.

Here are a few reasons researchers commonly choose self-completion surveys over interviews:

Faster, cheaper, easier

Let’s get this one out of the way immediately: the primary benefit to running self-completion surveys is the simpler logistics. Program the survey once, then deploy it. It costs less to implement, surveys are completed more quickly by respondents at their own convenience, and they’re overall easier to manage for the survey team.

No interviewer bias or error

Assuming a researcher builds a solid survey, the questions should be interpretable in only one way. But interviewers can make mistakes, or subconsciously inject bias into the process of asking the questions. Taking self-completion surveys is entirely in the respondent’s hands, with no middle man interjecting their own interpretation of the questions or the answers.

Visualization and interactivity

Interviews (especially over the phone) are generally limited to only verbal questions and answers. Online surveys allow multimedia, advanced question types, customizable look and feel, and more. Letting respondents interact with the survey questions directly can keep them engaged longer than purely auditory interviews.

Reduced respondent biases

It has been observed in many comparative studies that respondents being interviewed could be more susceptible to social desirability biases because of the interviewer’s presence. This is especially true when interviewers are presenting personal questions or questions where respondents believe there is a ‘socially acceptable’ answer. Interviewees may self-censor or moderate their views in ways that anonymous respondents would not if they’re interacting with the survey directly.

Interviewer advantages

So are there any benefits to using interviewers? Absolutely! There are arguably even more advantages to using interviewers over letting respondents complete their own surveys. Next week we’ll look at the tremendous up-side of having an interviewer in the mix, whether it be over the phone or face-to-face. Stay tuned for that!

It will often come down to the project itself – the sample, the budget and the questions will help determine the best method. Sometimes self-completion surveys will be enough, sometimes you’ll want the added benefits of an interviewer. That’s why the most flexible multichannel survey tools offer the choice of both.

Voxco Online v5.6 – Restructured Navigation

We’re excited to be managing a full roll-out across all of our SaaS servers that gives users access to the new Voxco Online (Acuity4) platform version 5.6.

The big news is that this version includes the release of Voxco Mobile Offline, our personal interviewing survey tool. It is integrated directly into the same platform as Voxco Online to maximize multichannel efficiency. If you’re interested in a demo, get in touch with us!

Even for online-only clients, there are a ton of new benefits to v5.6. This update integrates many client-requested updates to the overall navigation and layout of the platform. Here are a few of the biggest changes:

Maximized screen space

Elements within the platform and questionnaire editor have been aligned to the edges of your browser window. We have also eliminated tertiary navigation bars so that only a primary and secondary navigation remain:

  • The primary navigation is a permanent link to the four most common sections of the platform
  • The secondary navigation serves as a breadcrumb trail, offering easy access and quick actions for any step along the path to your current page.

The result of these changes is a more optimized experience. More of your important data fills more of the window while you’re editing questionnaires, sample lists, reports, and more. So get to work! 😉

Reporting via top navigation

We added a general ‘Reporting’ tab to the permanent navigation bar. It also provides one-click access to reporting subsections via a drop-down. Reporting for all of your surveys is now quickly accessible from anywhere in the platform.

Panels via top navigation

Panel Manager can now be accessed via the top navigation for anytime access. Using the secondary navigation breadcrumbs, you can easily jump directly to individual panels, panelists, and quick actions (imports, invitations, templates, etc).

Merged users & user groups

We have merged the two user management sections (users, user groups) into one single page instead of two. You can now view at a glance which users are in which user group. On the left you can access all of your user groups. In the central portion of the page, view and access individual users from the currently selected user group. New users and user groups can be added via a single, prominent button in the top right corner.

Search boxes

All lists now have search boxes to simplify access to specific surveys, users, user groups, panels, reports, templates, and more. See the examples above for quick searching user groups or individual users.

New features

v5.6 also includes a handful of brand new features, many of which are client-requested, and all of which will improve user productivity. You can read about them in our blogpost on January feature updates.

Want more?

All of our SaaS clients are being upgraded to v5.6 in the very new future. Release notes are available that detail all of the above changes in more detail. On-premise clients can request access to 5.6 at any time. Anybody else who is interested in learning more about v5.6 or seeing the new Voxco Mobile Offline in action can get in touch with us today! 🙂

January Feature Updates

It’s still early in the year, but we are already making major updates to the industry’s most flexible survey software.

The beta release of Voxco Mobile Offline and its integration into the existing Voxco Online platform has triggered a round of updates packaged together as Voxco Online 5.6. This new version will further improve the intuitiveness of the navigation layout, and add a few new navigation elements that will improve user productivity. We’re communicating these changes directly with clients for now. We’ll update the blog on Voxco Online 5.6 and Voxco Mobile Offline availability very soon.

Along with the navigation improvements, we are also packaging a handful of additional features based on feedback from clients and our own internal team of survey experts. Here’s a list of the new minor features hitting with the release of Voxco Online 5.6:

Detailed notifications & execution history on tasks/distributions

When importing samples or exporting results, users can now receive a comprehensive summary of which tasks and distributions were executed. Select the ‘send notification’ option for tasks that you want to have tracked in these reports.

  • Distribution summaries: Task name, survey name, description, content, schedule, and numbers of sends and failures.
  • Export summaries: Task and file name, file size, survey name, description details, schedule, filter details, and numbers of successful imports or failures.
Adding RGBA transparency for color picker

The color pickers within the questionnaire editor and Look & Feel editor now support RGBA transparency, so that survey creators can set transparencies for selected colors within their survey designs.

Show only pending/running distributions

We have added quick filters so that you can easily see which distributions are currently being executed and which ones are still pending. This will be a benefit for surveys that have a lot of distributions.

Updated survey engine default doctype to HTML

The default doctype for the survey engine has been changed from XHTML to the more standard HTML. This doctype offers better compliance with accessibility guidelines (e.g. WCAG).

Results encryption using PGP on export tasks

When you’re exporting survey results, you can now apply PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption. Users who employ PGP encryption software can now use this method when sending results via email or uploading to an FTP. Select the ‘Encrypt files with PGP’ option (highlighted below).

Remove curly brackets and spaces from response exports

For all formats (except Open-End), survey responses are now exportable without spaces and braces – { } – for all system variables. Select the ‘Remove Curly Brackets and Spaces Of System Variables’ option:

If you have any questions about any of these, or how they work, let us know! We are rolling these updates out along with Voxco Online 5.6, and communicating details to clients directly. Plenty more information still to come on Voxco Online 5.6 – stay tuned!

December Feature Updates

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At the end of another calendar year, we’re continuing to crank out new features for Voxco Online. Think of it as a holiday gift for our clients – we’re answering their wishes for new features that boost their productivity. We couldn’t have planned it better. 😉

Here are December’s new features, which mostly aim to better support SSS XML v1.2 with triple-s exports. Get in touch with us if you’d like help with executing any of them:

  • Added ‘Dichotomize multiple’ options for TXT exports. Previously, the ‘dichotomize multiple’ option was only available for CSV, Excel and SPSS formats. Starting this month, you will have the option to also export as TXT files (not available for SAS, SCT, SPS, or QAX formats).
  • Export all columns. If your data has multi-response questions (e.g. checkbox questions) and numeric codes, you will now be able to to select ‘dichotomized multiple’ and a .SSS format to create a data file with dichotomized numeric codes.
  • Exporting loops in questionnaire order. Traditionally, the default order for exporting looped question lists followed a response-focused order (e.g. Q1_R1, Q1_R2, Q1_R3, Q2_R1, Q2_R2, Q2_R3, Q3_R1, etc.). Now you can export looped question lists in a question-focused order (e.g. Q1_R1, Q2_R1, Q3_R1, Q1_R2, Q2_R2, etc.). This will include the option to export in TXT (SSS, Triple-S XML), Excel and CSV formats.
  • Added filter option to exclude surveys where panelists are inactive. We’ve added a filtering property to the Web API for Panel Manager that allows the ability to exclude surveys for which the panelist respondent is inactive. Enabling this will only return results where the respondent status is active.
  • Delete results via API after exporting. If you integrate with our system through an API, you can now delete a survey export task from a third party system. This prevents export task lists from growing indefinitely on the third party system.
Updates rolling out now!

Our SaaS servers are getting this update as early as this week. If you’re a client who hosts Voxco Online on your own premises, get in touch with us to schedule an update that will include these new exporting options.

Four New Software Feature Updates this November

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This month we’re rolling out another handful of helpful features that will make managing survey projects easier for our loyal users. Many of these monthly feature updates are client-requested, so don’t be shy – let your Voxco rep or support team know what new features you want to see in the future!

Here we go:

1. On-premise SAML Survey Access

SAML Survey Access is an option that is now available for our On-Premise customers (yes – we offer on-premise survey software). This will make a big difference to our on-premise users who seek an extra level of third party security when they are authenticating respondents. SAML access lets users authenticate survey respondents using a SAML claim attribute mapped to the respondent PIN. This needs to be integrated by users on their side, but now the Voxco platform will play nicely with SAML authentication providers.

2. Delete sample files off FTP

After you’ve finished uploading sample lists off of the FTP site, we’ve added a single-click option to the Import Sample process that allows for the automated deletion of the sample source file from the FTP site after it has been successfully imported.

On the sample import window, under source: FTP, there is now a check box that you can select called “Delete file after download.”

3. Saveable response variables

Users will now see that the variables they have input on the Responses page will automatically be saved when they load a new page or log off, and return later to complete what they were doing. Once the user returns to the response page, previously saved variables will be displayed as they were last left and can be edited from that point. The variables will be automatically saved on a per survey and per user basis; this should boost productivity among our regular survey programmers.

4. Survey link variables on exports

When exporting respondent and response data, a Survey Link system variable can now be added to the files. This could help users in various situations, including those who create follow-up email campaigns in separate software – the unique survey URL can now be included in the export file and imported into personalized emails that include the correct, unique survey link.

All changes coming soon

Change number 1 above is available now for all of our on-premise platform users. Contact your Voxco rep or our support team to schedule a time to update your on-site software with all of the above updates.

We’re rolling out the other three changes for our SaaS client starting this week. Call or email our support team if you have any questions about the updates and how to use them. Talk next month!

Feature Update: Enhanced questionnaire structure view

This week we started rolling out the newest version of our Voxco Online SaaS platform to include a highly requested feature. In the past, after questionnaires were written and programmed, the default preview display made it difficult to present the questionnaire structure to others and request their feedback. Well no more!

We have reviewed and updated the entire questionnaire structure preview to make it more helpful when presenting questionnaires to others.

These changes will make the questionnaire structure preview easier to understand on-screen, including the ability to add survey settings and block settings directly via the display. We’ve also added an option to export the questionnaire structure display into Microsoft Word as an HTML file. The Word file can then be formatted, edited, and presented to others:

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Now Voxco Online users can easily share questionnaire structure with non-users, who can see all questionnaire language and survey logic in one place. This is especially helpful for market researchers who regularly present questionnaire content and flow to their clients for their feedback and approval.

If this is something that could benefit your market research team, give it a try! You can access the new questionnaire structure preview directly from the survey editor with the slider under the side navigation (choose ‘Structure’):

voxco-online-questionnaire-structure-view

You can then export the previews to an HTML file by choosing ‘Print All’ or ‘Print Selected’ in the side navigation, and then choosing the new ‘Save as HTML for Word’:

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Stay in touch! We’re regularly updating the software with new features, many of which are requested by clients.

August Software Feature Updates

August Voxco Survey Software Feature Updates

Another month, another round of survey features being added to the Voxco platform. We’re excited to update you on what’s new now that the software was updated overnight. Here we go!

SFTP Support

When uploading survey results to an external site, or downloading raw data files for importation into the Voxco survey platform, we now offer full SFTP support in addition to the pre-existing FTP service.

SFTP is an even more secure method of transferring data that uses a private and safe data stream. Its major benefit is that it encrypts the connection between your computer and the FTP server, never sending file data or passwords as clear text.

SaaS Support for Twilio

Twilio allows its users to programmatically make phone calls and send text messages using its web service APIs. Now, Voxco clients who regularly use Twilio’s short codes when auto-sending SMS text messages can now be fully compliant with provider requirements by enabling an automated response for keywords like ‘help’, ‘stop’, or ‘unsubscribe’.

Survey Widgets Compatibility

Ok, this one isn’t new, but we’d like to highlight it anyways. Survey Widgets offers the ability to add even more innovative features to your online surveys (e.g. enhanced sliders, rotating image galleries, or dynamic image rankings). Fun surveys enhance the respondent experience and drive completion rates & response quality. Their entire library of widgets are fully compatible with Voxco Online and Voxco Mobile Offline.

Lookup Table Filter Conditions: New Operators

You can now more easily return values which are or are not in a list of comma-delimited values by using the new In/Not In operator.

AllRows Piping Command

You can combine the above operator with the new AllRows piping command to generate a CSV list of all answers across a loop.

The command can also be used to return a list of all answers for all mentions of a specific question across all rows of a loop.

For example:

Q1 Checkbox question with choices 1,2,3

  • Q1 loop 1 = 1
  • Q1 loop 2 = 1,2
  • Q1 loop 3 = 3

[Q1.AllRows] will return 1,1,2,3

Update Details

Have any questions about the above functions or compatibilities? Contact your local support center or your Voxco rep. We’re happy to help you get the most out of your Voxco survey software!

Online surveys are not enough

Voxco-online-surveys-are-not-enough-part-1

Part 1: The oversaturation of online surveys.

Online will remain the #1 survey channel for the time-being, and deservedly so. The channel offers the ability for respondents to privately complete surveys on their own time. For researchers, data can be processed immediately, and there are no additional costs for interviewers.

But because of the simplicity and efficiency of online surveys, the market is quickly becoming oversaturated and respondents are getting overwhelmed. Online survey invitations are everywhere, and the surveys they link to are often sloppy. And the resulting online survey clutter leads to survey fatigue, which leads to a range of data collection issues, none of which are good news for researchers:

  • Declining response rates. Many online surveys see single-digit response rates as low as 2%. And respondents who do complete the surveys generally have an extreme opinion: they’re either ecstatic or livid. It’s difficult to get a balanced opinion when you’re only talking to outliers.
  • Reduced respondent attention span. For respondents who still complete surveys, the increased frequency can affect their in-survey attention span. The more survey questions they see, the higher their tendency to burn through questions too quickly without adequate thought.
  • Market saturation. With so many surveys vying for a respondent’s attention, how can one organization get their survey noticed and completed?

So are online surveys doomed? Of course not – but researchers tasked with deploying them are certainly being challenged. We’ve discussed numerous times in the past how to make online surveys more engaging. Here is the TL;DR version:

  • Design surveys well. A no-brainer, but so important. Keep online surveys short and sweet on the surface. Nowadays, if your survey looks cheap or takes longer than five minutes, you’ll start losing a portion of the respondents who were willing to click on the link in the first place.
  • Listen and Adapt. Surveys are a two-way conversation. Ensure that the respondent knows you’re listening to their answers. Use logic to skip irrelevant questions or pipe in past responses. If a respondent feels like they are being heard, they’re more likely to share.
  • Incentivize. Incentives increase response rates which offsets your sample cost. Unincentivized survey requests are a primary target in the rising pushback against online survey invitations.
  • Personalize the invitation. Ensure that survey invitations speak to the right people, and acknowledge the respondent situation. Use a clean sample source and personalize the message to clarify why they were chosen (eg. “Thanks for your purchase of X last Tuesday…”).
  • Create a community. Cut to the heart of your customer base and nurture your own panels of your loyal consumers. It’s a lot of work to create and manage, but an incentivized, permanent panel will give you a constant finger on the pulse of your most important customer segment.

Online surveys are an essential part of any Voice of Customer or research program. But in today’s industry reality, you need to accept that getting a respondent’s attention online is extremely challenging. Get your surveys noticed by complementing well-designed online surveys with surveys conducted via alternate channels.

Break through the heads-down, clutter-ignoring patterns of an average respondent’s daily routine. Think differently about how to get your survey noticed by respondents. Taking your survey project out of your own comfort zone can take you into a new zone where respondents actually notice your surveys.

We’ll expand more on this idea through this three-part blogpost series. Read Part 2 (Get surveys noticed in the offline world) now and Part 3 (The multi-channel advantage) will land in the coming weeks!

C2 Montreal will use Voxco MultiMode to measure 2016 event success

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This year one of the world’s premiere business events celebrates its fifth year, and we’re super-excited to play a pretty important role. C2 Montreal combines Commerce and Creativity by bringing together over 5000 international creative minds to explore trends, opportunities and disruptions on the horizon.

The event includes big name talks, innovative brainstorming workshops, and a massive outdoor village with daily entertainment. It has been called “a conference unlike any other” by the Harvard Business Review.

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For a modern event that celebrates what’s trending in creativity and commerce, it’s essential that the organizers keep a finger on the attendee pulse during the show. They then also need to use post-event attendee feedback to ensure that their show is constantly evolving and will keep attendees coming back year after year. And that’s where Voxco is lending a hand.

We’ve joined forces with C2 to help them with their multifaceted attendee feedback needs. We’re thrilled that they have adopted Voxco MultiMode and will be putting it to the task for this year’s event. Their program will include:

  • On-location mobile surveys: To measure the pulse of the event while attendees are in the moment, volunteers with tablets will conduct surveys both inside the event and outside at the village. These mobile surveys will offer event organizers a live snapshot of attendee satisfaction levels and a notification system will alert organizers of time-sensitive feedback so that they can instantly take action on the results.
  • Post-event online surveys: Using Voxco Online, event organizers will invite attendees shortly after the event closes to answer a self-completion survey. It will measure their satisfaction and recall of numerous event activities, and identify how many business connections they made. All the feedback will then be analyzed and will help fine-tune the show in upcoming years.
  • Professional Services: The Voxco Professional Services team will handle all survey programming and design work for the project, to allow the organizers more time for analyzing and reacting to the results.

Voxco MultiMode will be a major upgrade over the overly simple DIY solution that the C2 team used in the past. The ability to design more engaging surveys, interview attendees live on the floor, and the expert programming and design services are all a huge advantage for the event organizers.

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Get in touch with the Voxco team today if your event would benefit from a more flexible attendee feedback solution!

Avoid these 10 mistakes when managing panel communities

11 mistakes to avoid when running an online MR community

Stephen Cribbett of Dub Research in London recently published a post that was picked up by Quirks. The article perfectly highlights the downfalls that many researchers face when planning and launching a new panel community.

The article was written from the POV of focus groups and qualitative communities, but the concepts are still heavily influential for launching and nurturing survey panel communities. We’ve shortened and a little and highlighted the most important tips below.

In short, remember that panelists are busy people. Busy people who have a genuine interest in participating in your research. So be sure to cater to them – acknowledge them, make them feel welcome, and ensure that they feel comfortable enough that they will stick around and share their experiences with you. On with the list:

1. Creating a virtual ghost town

When your research community launches and the first person to arrive finds a community devoid of people, conversations and any life forms, they’ll be experiencing what’s referred to as a virtual ghost town. And nobody wants to be the first person at a party.

Establish some energy by seeding content from the very beginning, and sometimes even before the community has launched to participants.

2. Failing to welcome and brief participants

Eager to begin the research activities, researchers can sometimes forget the critical importance of establishing rapport and warming up participants. Encourage them to open up and express themselves, making certain that they understand that there is no right or wrong answer.

To facilitate this, consider using ice-breaking activities such as an open discussion or mini ‘fun’ surveys. When new participants come into the research community and see these existing activities, it gives them a head start in getting to know the other respondents (if structured as open discussion), or understanding the structure of the panel and future surveys (if structured as introductory surveys). Here are some example questions:

  • What do you always carry with you in your bag?
  • Who do you most admire in life and why?
  • What can’t you live without?
  • When did you last do something for the first time?

Note that some of these ‘fun’ questions can double as panelist profile attributes for future filtering!

3. Not sharing the purpose and objectives

Both the community and the individual tasks and discussions that you are launching need clear explanation. The more you can clarify the objective of asking a question or setting a task, the more likely you are to get a great response.

Trust leads to greater openness and expression from the members, which means you are more likely to uncover unexpected insights in your research. Transparency with regards to the community mission will be vital in order for you to accomplish this endeavor.

4. Not being flexible with time and structure

Structure is important but rigid adherence to pre-determined tasks can be your enemy. You want to leave enough in your agenda to allow members to touch on further topics, since this can lead to interesting ideas and themes bubbling up to the surface via qualitative discussion. Remember to build in time to explore these unanticipated topic areas.

5. Peaking too soon

The energy and excitement around the initial launch of a community can sometimes result in it peaking too early, with moderators losing focus or getting distracted with other work commitments as time passes. Be on guard against this, even for relatively short communities. Working to establish solid relationships within the community early on can help keep things going strong and lead to productive discussions and valuable insights.

6. Not getting to know your chosen community platform

When it comes to selecting the best and most appropriate market research technology, spend time doing your due diligence and learning how it works. You don’t want to make the common mistake of assuming the technology can do something it can’t. Choose a panel portal tool with a robust backend management toolbox and an engaging portal experience for panelists.

Once you’ve made your choice, make time to experiment or run trials. Give yourself time fully understand its capabilities and how far you can push the tasks. Promotional note: Voxco Panel Manager offers a Day 1 integration kit that gives you the source code and design templates you need to get started immediately. Get in touch with us to see how it can help!

7. Expecting too much of your members

Avoid cramming in too many tasks and discussions because, ultimately, it will over-load members who will quickly lose interest and slope off. Always try to take a step back and ask yourself, “Would I be prepared to do this myself?” or “Would I be able to achieve this in the allotted time?”

8. Thinking, “If I build it, they will come.”

Simply building a research community is not enough. Communities are organic, living things that require time, effort, intellect and resources in order to be successful and reveal the insights that you need.

Take the community through its life stages, investing in people and relationships along the way. When obstacles come – and they will – try to see them as opportunities and be confident that you can always find a way to work around them.

9. Not being prepared for the volume of data

Many first-timers end up underestimating the amount of data they will collect, and then don’t have a good plan in place for how to analyze and report on that data. So a top tip is to formulate hypotheses, and be prepared for rolling analysis techniques and tools.

On a typical basis you should seek to commence your analyses halfway through the community. If you have resources available, consider how to combine efforts and work together as a team.

10. No plan in place

You can’t launch your community on day one and then wait until day two to figure out what to do! Be sure to know how the next few weeks or months will play out. What will your role and input be? Only then can you manage client expectations. Community planning requires a careful balance. Although you should look to avoid over-planning and preparing, It’s recommended that you have a loose framework to utilize your members time effectively.

The welcoming phase is crucial, demanding effort and energy, so having early activities set up and ready to roll will make your life so much easier, leaving you time to concentrate on planning and re-shaping further activities in the light of feedback that you gather.

Read the source article at Research Industry Voices

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