Monday, December 17, 2012

Too Many Surveys

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Are you like me? Inundated with surveys from the associations you belong to? Tell us what you think of our last conference. How was that last resource you downloaded from our online store? Help us set the future direction of your association.

And do you do the same thing to your members? Asking them too many questions too often and taking too little action based on the embarrassing response rates?

Have you ever thought that the solution might be...

More surveys?

Not long ones. Short ones. Really short ones. Like no more than one simple question.

The next time you're uncertain of a direction, send out a poll with one question and a finite number of options. And when the responses come in, do something you've probably never done before.

Post the results. Share them with the entire membership. And even more importantly, let everyone know what you're going to do differently based on the feedback you received. You don't necessarily have to go with the majority opinion, but do make a decision and tell your members what it is.

What might happen? Will those who responded be more motivated to respond the next time? What about those who didn't respond? Might they decide to chime in the next time, since they saw that you took action based on member feedback, and they didn't have a chance to have their voice heard the last time around? Think of how you might react if an association you belonged to did this. Do you think your members would act any differently?

So why don't we do this? I think there's two simple answers to that question.

First, it's hard to come up with the right question with a few simple options. We like to think that what we do is complex. How can we possibly boil it all down to one question?

Second, we're frightened of having to commit ourselves to some course of action. Or worse, of having to go against the wishes of the members. It is their association, after all.

For both of these reasons, I would suggest starting small. Start with things that are easy to peg to majority opinion. What kind of snacks would you like served at the next conference?

It may seem trivial at first. But by asking, sharing and taking action you just might get your members in the habit of responding to more of your surveys.

And isn't that what you want?


  1. Totally agree! Advising why you are asking and what changes are going to be made as a result of the responses is key to continue to get feedback! Great post.