Tom Webster, writing and speaking

Thank, Terminate and Tally

Added on by Tom Webster.

That language, by the way, stems from telephone surveys. If you have some kind of specific target for a customer or market survey, you ask the questions that might qualify or disqualify that customer up front, so that you can end the call quickly if the the respondent doesn't meet the specific criteria that your sample demands.  In a telephone survey script, when a respondent doesn't meet those criteria, you thank them, terminate the call, and tally the information you do have. You do this because that telephone time costs money--not in telecommunication charges, but in the cost of employing the people making those calls.

But with online surveys, things are different. There are no "interviewer costs." Which is why "not qualifying" for an online survey flabbergasts me.

I take nearly every survey sent to me, mostly for professional reasons. I have to say, when I take a survey for a brand I love (today's was Bowers & Wilkens) and I get dumped out after the first 3-4 questions because I didn't screen in for the rest of the study, I get sad. I know we are over-surveyed today (THANKS, MONKEY) but when it is a brand you love, you genuinely want your feedback to matter.

Which makes me think this: in an era where we are conducting online surveys of customer databases more than ever, why would anyone on that list ever not qualify? You don't have to look at the data for people that don't meet some tactical criterion--this time--but if a customer is willing to complete a survey instrument, why ever dump them out of it if they are the wrong age/zip code/smell/blood type/whatever? You might find a use for that data elsewhere. And it's also another opportunity to thank people for being customers. Just a thought.