Marketing Energy Efficiency: Blackstone Group and Designing Research Questionnaires

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Top 10 Tips for Formatting and Designing Research Questionnaires

On Tuesday, March 19th, 2013, Blackstone Group identified the top ten tips to help your team streamline the development of research questionnaires – from energy efficiency evaluation to customer satisfaction – in terms of formatting and design.

Mike Burmester and Brandon Parrott-Sheffer, from the Blackstone Group, presented the top ten tips of questionnaire design based on their experience as full-service market researchers who have completed over 75 energy-related projects in the past three years alone.

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Marketing Energy Efficiency: Blackstone Group and Designing Research Questionnaires

  1. 1. Improving Client/Blackstone Survey Quality  Sample variables often do not match what is included in the questionnaire sent to BG from the client. This causes much back and forth between BG and the client trying to figure out if these variables need to be added to the sample or removed from the questionnaire. After that is figured out, there is much re-programming of the study, which can cause drastic delays in launching, unnecessary complications among our fielding team, and budget overages.  Logic of questionnaires is not accurate and skips are not correctly defined. This incurs a lot of time on our end revising and proofing the questionnaires, and even more time in back-andforth communications with the client trying to figure out what was originally intended.  Confusing language for both interviewers and interviewees. Often terms are not explained, or some words may be commonplace to the end client but not understood properly by the respondent. Questions should be in layman’s terms and easily comprehensible by all parties. Also, there are many times the same or similar questions are being asked multiple times within the same study.  Words will be missing from questionnaires, grammar will be inconsistent or incorrect, and questions will be rambling or asking about too many different things.  Questionnaires rarely include options for Don’t Know/Refused, an option that should be considered standard in order to provide an easy flow for the interviewer/interviewee and more accurate data.  Sample information is often inaccurate or outdated, which causes reluctance among respondents to complete.  When a survey is revised from a previous year’s study or a similar study, there is a greater likelihood that questions reference an incorrect program name or do not apply to respondents.  The names of programs are not always the same as the name of the program that the respondent was told they were participating in (e.g., Business Express Install Program” vs. “GridSmart program.”)  Questions can be inordinately taxing for some respondents, particularly asking very specific questions regarding events and programs that happened many months or even years ago. Respondents’ recall sometimes does not match the level of detail that is expected in the survey.  Too many studies with the same respondent base who get very upset at feeling as though they are being asked the same questions over and over again.  Unrealistic expectations regarding how many completes can be attained from a limited number of sample records and/or refusal to loosen quota expectations.
  2. 2. mike burmester senior vice president 312.423.4028 mike.burmester@bgglobal.com marc levy research analyst 312.423.4031 marc.levy@bgglobal.com brandon parrott-sheffer research analyst 312.423.4056 brandon.parrott-sheffer@bgglobal.com

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