We’ve commented before how survey length can impact participants and data quality, but it is also important to respect respondents in other ways too.

  • Set expectations. Inform them of the length, topic, nature of questions, etc.  Don’t lead them to believe one thing then surprise them on the survey with another.
  • Allow them to opt out. Make opting out of the research easy.
  • Inform them how you got their information. Respondents are increasingly wary of threats to their privacy.  Be sure to convey how you got their information.  Better yet, have your client contact them first alerting them to the research.
  • And tell them how you will protect their information and privacy. Once you tell them how you got their information, tell them how it will be used AND not used.  Reselling their information?  Will they be linked to their responses?
  • Let them know how the research is being used. While not always possible due to blinded studies, when possible include them in what the research is being used for – make them feel like a partner in the process.
  • Inform them how to get in touch with a human if they have concerns. No matter how respectful you are, some people may still be upset that you contacted them (privacy being a top concern).  Make the process of doing so easy, unless you want to make them even more angry.
  • Providing a personal reply. Respondents are taking the time to provide us a personalized response of their opinions – we should return the courtesy when they contact us with a problem.

Respondents are a nonrenewable resource – let’s take care of them like any other precious resource.