NZ Post Survey Breaches Privacy

June 20th, 2011 by Jared Bothwell

Back in 2009 NZ Post came under some flak regarding a nationwide survey postal survey they conducted.

The Privacy Commissioner looks set to release two reports this week which criticise the survey calling it a  “systematic, large-scale breach” of privacy principles.

The timing of these reports is auspicious as NZ Post launches the same survey again. NZ Post in a recent press release claims that it has learnt from it’s mistakes in 2009 and a larger focus on privacy issues has been made with its 2011 survey. In addition this years survey will move away from the ‘Census’ look and feel it used in 2009 to avoid any possible confusion.

All respondents to the survey are eligible to be entered into a prize draw with the results of the survey being on-sold to any body willing to pay.

Given the above I  imagine the response rate to the survey will be significantly lower than the 2009 survey given the fact that people are more conscious of who gets their personal data and why.

Posted in Ideas, Online Research | Comments Off

Tobacco Survey Prompts Legal Investigation

November 3rd, 2010 by Jared Bothwell

In the NZ Herald article Apology follows tobacco survey it highlights the fine ethical line that researchers must tread when researching sensitive topics.

Colmar Brunton (the research company) received a number of complaints for offering free cigarettes to research participants. The client British American Tobacco has said that the Colmar Brunton breached the agreed protocols and was taking responsibility for the incident.

When I read this article it did make me think about how I would handle such a project. I came to the conclusion that research with the primary aim of getting more people to smoke cigarettes is a distasteful business and an area where I would be compelled to take an ethical stand. I’m sure on reflection the good people at Brunton wish they had thought more carefully about this project.

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Why won?, Why lost?, Why missed?-Surveys for Greater Customer Insight

September 29th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell


Customer satisfaction surveys tend to dominate thinking when it comes to surveying customers. Yet, there are plenty of other ways to gain insights into your customer base by asking a few quick questions. ‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys are just one example. And if you don’t have any customers they are also quite useful for dating.

‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys are a series of customer insight surveys that are practically guaranteed to give you the information and insights that any business requires in order to retain existing customers, win back old customers and win new business.

I first came across ‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys in my first job as a market researcher when I was straight out of university. I was immediately stuck by the simplicity of the concept but like most things often it is the simple ideas that are the best (excluding  factor and conjoint analysis).

Why Won?

Gaining a new client may mean the popping of champagne corks and a flurry if high fives all around the office.

Often little thought is put to why you may have been successful in winning the new client. A ‘Why won?’ survey seeks to answer this important question.  The key reason for doing a Why won” survey is that the information gleaned can be valuable in winning other new clients .

The underlying assumption being that if newly won customer liked feature A, then it is likely that other prospects may like feature A too. This could lead to greater promotion and emphasis being made of feature A and consequently more new customers.

The timing of a Why won? survey is important. It is best to leave some time between the customer coming on board and asking the new customer to complete the survey. Off course this depends on the type of interaction you may have with the customer but six weeks is a good rule of thumb.

The Questions
While it is not quite as simple as “Hey Bob, Why won?”, but there isn’t too much more to it than that.

The main objective of the survey is to identify the key factors why your new customer decided to go with you  and not your competition. If you have left it for six weeks you can also use the opportunity to see how your new customers are settling in. This can identify any early teething problems and enable you to stop your new customer becoming a lost customer.

The Methodology
The methodology of your survey deployment depends on a number of factors. The value of the new account comes into play along with how you will continue to communicate with your new customer. For higher value accounts I like the idea of a personalised telephone call. The call can play an integral part in the induction process of the new customer.

The person who makes the call should ideally be a neutral individual who has no role in the management of the account. In most circumstances it is ideal to use a market researcher to undertake the interview. Off course, the researcher can be calling from your organisation. The value in using an independent interviewer is that you are more likely to receive more candid and there fore more valuable information.

Online surveys can also be used instead of telephone interviews. I would be reluctant to use online surveys for high value accounts though. Responce rates are likely to be low and they will do little to strengthen the relationship or make your new customer feel welcome.

Why Lost?

Losing customers or clients is a drain on any business and often the temptation is to simply make excuses on why customers leave without capturing any data on the key reasons why they have decided to cease doing business with your organsation.

This is the purpose of the ‘Why lost?’ survey. Questions tend to focus on the key reasons why the client has made the decision to leave. It can also be useful to ask if there is anything you could do to win there business back. Often there isn’t but if there is you really want to know.

The Methodology
The methodology to use is similar to the why won surveys. The key factor is really the value of the account. Spitting out an online survey to a million dollar client will justify their decision. You just don’t care. A telephone survey would be more suitable.

Often the hardest thing with ‘Why Lost?’ surveys is actually knowing when you have lost a client. It is human nature to avoid conflict so if you client can just slip off in the dark – they will. In some industries it is fairly obvious that your customer is leaving e.g. “Hi, I want to cancel my subscription”.

Why Missed?

Often an enormous  amount of resources and energy can go into pitching for new business and unless your operating in a monopoly it is likely that you will come across business defeat in a competitive pitch.

While it is tempting in these situations to just put it down to a “numbers game” and move on if you want to learn from your defeats it is critical that you take the time to find out why your pitch was unsuccessful.

Methodlogy and process should work the same as the ‘Why won?’ and ‘Why lost” surveys.

Data Collection

With all these surveys it is essential that the data is collected in a useful and meaningful manner. It is of no value if you have various forms floating around the office.

While the data collected is incredibly useful to make quick improvements and gains to your business processes it is the longitudinal data that provides fantastic insights into how your business is tracking over time.

Competitive Intelligence

‘Why won?’, ‘Why lost?’ and ‘Why missed?’ surveys will also provide you with a goldmine of competitive intelligence. This data should be tagged appropriately as it enables a complete profile of your competitors activity to constantly developed. There is no need to engage in covert espionage when you have a wealth of knowledge lurking within your customers.

Posted in Customer Satisfaction, Ideas, survey design, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

NZ Marketing Magazine – Under New Management

September 3rd, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

cover-sept-oct-09I was kicking myself after subscribing up to New Zealand Marketing for two years to find out a week later that 3media (the magazine publishers) had gone into liquidation. To be frank I wasn’t actually that keen on subscribing to the magazine but it was a pretty good deal (now I know why) and is really the only industry magazine that we have so felt duty bound to support it.

The beef I had with NZ Marketing (and a lot of other business magazines) is that a great deal of the contributors are industry participants who clearly have a vested interest in the topic they are writing about.  The problem I have with a lot of the articles is that often they read more like advertorials or at best tip sheets (i.e. six steps to a better brand etc.)

What the articles often are not are well balanced, objective or particularly that interesting. If you look closely you will often find an advert by a contributing writer in the same edition. Off course this is not always the case but often it is.

My other criticism of many business magazines is that many of the feature articles are banal at best consisting of incessant cheer-leading for fear of rubbing someone up the wring way and losing an advertising opportunity (the old who do you serve your readers or your advertisers chestnut). While this may help the bottom line it makes for fairly dull reading.

I was pretty excited then when I heard that HB Media had picked up the NZ Marketing masthead and were re-vamping the publication. I like what they have done with Idealog and expected good things.  It seems the team have been pretty busy over the last few months and I waspleasantly surprised when I found my brand spanking new copy of the magazine in my mailbox today.

The (new) NZ Marketing mag at first glance seems to have avoided some of my ealier criticisms judging by this editions feature article titled ‘Epic Fail’ (BTW – don’t get me started on the current trend to label screw ups as ‘fail’).

‘Epic Fail’ by Simon Young takes a hard look at the recent mismanagement of screw ups by Cadbury, Jetstar and Dominos. Quite a good read!

Key Changes

From my observation these appear to be the key changes in the new look NZ Marketing Magazine.

  • Price Increase – old marketing magazine had a cover price of $7.50, new mag is $8.50
  • Frequency – old marketing mag was monthly, new marketing mag is bi-monthly (looks like my subscription has just been chopped in half)
  • New Editor – Vincent Heeringa replaces old mag editor Graham Medcalf Graham still seems to be contributing though with two articles in the new mag written by him.
  • Two magazines in one – new mag also features the DLB which is the official magazine of the New Zealand Marketing Association. DLB use to be a large format magazine sent out to marketing association members.
  • Wave goodbye to – ‘One Consumers Opinion’, ‘Branding’,  ‘Microman’, ‘Weasel’
  • Say hello to – ‘Media’, ‘Law’, ‘Advertising’, ‘Metrics’, ‘Research’, ‘NFP’, ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Back Then’

All in all the new NZ Marketing is looking good and there is heaps of potential. It will be interesting to see what they do with the website, currently there is nothing much there . I can only hope that it is halfway as good as the Idealog site. The NZ Marketing site under 3M was under utilised and if HB Media was smart they will look at using the site to bring the New Zealand marketing community something which the Marketing Association website has to date failed to do.

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Market Research In-Sourcing

March 26th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

I have just come off a Webex online conference titled ‘Serenity in the Storm – How Researchers are Achieving Deeper Insight in Spite of the Chaos’ held by Quirks Marketing Research review.

One of the key market research trends that was identified during the course of the conference call was the growing number of companies that were choosing to develop their own internal market research departments and to ‘in-source’ research requirements. (bear in mind that this is a US persepctive)

One of the main drivers behind research insourcing is the rapid development of survey technology which has made running market research projects much easier. While the pros and cons of this were discussed it seems that market research companies will just have to deal with these developments. To be honest it does not phase us at all.

Here at Rock Research we have recognised this trend and have developed services to support companies complete their own market research. We have the choice of DIY surveys or we are also happy to provide consulting and guidance in the completion of market research projects.

This support can involve:

  • Survey Design
  • Questionnaire Design
  • Survey Sampling
  • Research Methodology
  • Data Analysis and Reporting
  • Research Consulting

This ‘pick & mix’ approach to market research means that companies can have the best of both worlds. The cost efficiency’s of insourcing market research with the expertise of an experienced market research team to provide support and technical expertise.

Posted in Ideas, Marketing Research | 1 Comment »

Responce Rates to Surveys – What can be done?

March 23rd, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

Responce Rates

Duncan Nulty has written an interesting paper titled ‘The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: what can be done?’.

In this paper Nulty explores some of the issues involved in deploying surveys and improving response rates. While the surveys that Nulty refers to are being deployed in an academic setting there are some useful tips for survey deployment in all situations. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ideas, Online Research | 2 Comments »

Five tips for better online surveys + one more

March 11th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell

Seth Godin has five tips for better online surveys. One of the things that strikes me about these five tips is the underlying rule that should guide all rules for designing surveys is “Respect your respondent”.

One of the things that I have noticed more and more is how long and tedious some of the surveys that I have recently completed have been. When designing your survey you need to keep your respondent in mind all the time. Their time is valuable and you need to respect this. I have found the best way to acheive this is to imagine that you yourself are being invited to take the survey.

Posted in Ideas | 2 Comments »

Incorporating Multi-Media in your Online Survey with Third Party Hosting

September 24th, 2008 by Jared Bothwell

One of the ways to spruce up your survey and make it more interesting to your respondents is to incorporate multimedia into the survey. Incorporating video clips into your survey is a cinch and something which is quite impractical with more traditional survey methods. i.e. can you imagine the cost of sending out a DVD with every mail survey.

There are a number of options to consider when incorporating video into your survey. One of the easiest and most straightforward ways is to use an external video hosting service like YouTube Another option is to host the video on your own server.

Recently when conducting a survey we had to make a decision on how to incorporate a video into a survey and we decided on Google Video The reason for this was we found that Google Video allowed the most flexibility. We were able to restrict access to the video and it gave a far cleaner user experience.

YouTube failed the test due to the fact that if the user clicked on the video they were then taken through to the YouTube site, hardly ideal halfway through the survey. Also at the end of the YouTube video it gives the viewer options of related videos to watch – also not ideal, we don’t want to distract our respondents while they are taking the survey. Now it may be possible that some of these YouTube functions can be managed (i,e turned off) but I couldn’t figure out how to do it.

So, Google Video in my mind is a pretty safe choice for getting videos into your surveys.  I would love to hear of others though.

Posted in Ideas, Market Research 2.0, Online Market Research Tools | Comments Off

Treat Your Survey Respondents like they Kings and Queens they are

September 23rd, 2008 by Jared Bothwell

Came across this article that raises the proposition that the survey taker is king

It makes the point that market researchers are so busy juggling so many priorities is is the poor survey respondent that often gets looked over.

Yet without respondents we have no results so it is critical that we take care of our respondents.

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How old are you? – How to ask the age question in surveys

September 16th, 2008 by Jared Bothwell

Asking someones age is generally through of  the height of rudeness, yet in surveys the age of your respondents is critical demographic data. Data accuracy around this question is pretty important and recent research shows that the way you ask this question has a strong influence on how it will be answered.

Philip Gendall and Benjamin Healey (my old market research lecturer and backwards market research guru) have done a bit of digging round to see who researchers can best pose this question to respondents without having 80% of your respondents saying they have just turned 21. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ideas, Online Market Research Tools, Online Research | Comments Off

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