It is the digital black gold of the 21st Century, it is a vital part of any corporate strategy or it is the plague of modern times.
However you look at it, you can’t escape it. It is everywhere. Surveys will get you.
Our lives are drowning in them. Every second website asks you to answer a few short questions, or someone in the street stops you to ask your view on whether biscuits should crumble or melt.
Even our news is saturated with it as companies use surveys to try and shoehorn their product/message into the daily news agenda. Earlier this month we were treated to the revelation of Wales’ favourite sexual position and other heart shaped nonsense.
But the answers to those questions, that customer insight, is incredibly valuable and is busy making Silicon Valley types billions of dollars a year.
So how do you get a slice of that action? (I’m talking some customer insight not billions of dollars, though I wouldn’t say no …)
Modern comms is all about having a conversation and evidencing why you are doing what you are doing.
An important part of that is understanding what those you serve, or are trying to reach, want.
What better way to do that than launch yet another survey?
I’ve always been a bit sceptical of surveys. We put so much stock in what they tell us but how accurate are they? I was at a presentation last year where a marketing firm were talking about survey results as if they were gospel.
Tucked away in a very small font on the presentation was the sample size – just 200. I asked if that was enough to base such sweeping assumptions and a list of actions on? Apparently it was?
We see the results of YouGov polls, based on a couple of hundred people’s views, become headline news and by all accounts the alchemy involved in their sample is pretty accurate.
So sceptical, but keen to gain some insight, we launched our comms survey just before Christmas. We did one survey for staff members and one for the public hoping each would help to steer our actions over the next 12 months and beyond.
Here I’ll just look at our staff results. Our prevoius internal comms survey had returned what I regarded at the time as a rather poor response – just 179. This poor show despite the fact we were dangling a new camera as a prize.
This time around, determined to do better and armed with a number of prizes we set about spreading the word, pushing the survey through out digital channels and our partners.
The result? A rather healthy 523 responses. I say healthy, but it still only accounts for 3.7% of our workforce. A bit of research suggests this means that we can be confident that our results are accurate to a degree of 90%.
Was it worth it? I think so. Here’s what I took away from it.
- Social media and good relationships with partners helps to boost response numbers.
- People overall said that comms was mostly ok, good or very good in the health board.
- Sadly, the above statement wasn’t borne out by some of the answers to later questions.
- People rely heavily on digital communications but put huge stock in face to face engagement.
- Giving people a free-text response leads only to lots of work.
- That work is where the real benefit is in terms of gauging mood and identifying ways forward.
- We should have done more to encourage responses from those not digitally connected.
- Offering people a free back rub is a good way of getting responses (I’ll stress that this was one of our prizes from a professional, not the comms team sailing dangerously close to the line between hands on work and legal proceedings).
I have to admit that I’m pleased with the work – it’s around three times the response that we had last time. That said much of what was fed back to us was stuff we pretty much felt we knew about the issues. However, there were still nuggets of insight that were very worthwhile.
There’s also the value in being able to evidence some of the things you’ve suspected for some time. It’s not just a few comms people pushing their own agenda. The people have spoken. They want better comms, better access, more face to face engagement and more of the info that’s important to them.
But also, backrubs. They want backrubs.