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Ever since our presentation on the Respondent Experience at CASRO last year, one response has really stayed with me. We asked people what makes a survey experience BAD, and while a lot of people complained about design issues like long grids, repetitive questions, and spelling/grammar mistakes, one woman wrote a gut-wrenching response about the survey recruitment process:

“It would be nice if I felt they actually paired me with good matches. I’m a homemaker with no kids yet.  We have been trying for kids for 5 years now.  I hate going to start a survey only to be rejected for not having kids which is in my profile.  It’s another painful reminder.  I love sharing my opinion, I want the opportunity to get to know the companies I do it for, and for them to know me.”
It’s so easy to forget, when we try to fill quotas and maximize efficiencies and meet study objectives, that the people at the other end of our surveys are….people. Not just sample members we can pick and choose among, not just rows in a dataset— real, multi-dimensional people who have real reactions to the survey invitations and questions we throw their way. I think it would behoove all of us in the industry to remember this and treat our respondents as well as we would treat someone we know and love.

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