Categories: News and Resources

Katie Ferro


There is no doubt that technology has been a great enabler for the market research industry. But shorter turnaround times and the breakneck speed of technological development means that participant engagement, amenity and quality are sometimes relegated to the back burner in our desire to stay competitive and relevant.

So is the current approach to participant engagement a race to the bottom when the most recent GRIT CPR Report into consumer participation in research highlights that “only a quarter of all participants globally are satisfied with their experience participating in research”?

In a digital world, market research companies and their suppliers are not only competing for participant attention, they are also competing with customer/participant digital and customer engagement experiences in general. Companies who are acknowledging that the walls that separate customer experience across multiple organisations are long gone look like they are on the right track.

In a recent article Mark Weinstein, Senior VP of Customer Experience with Hilton Worldwide, noted that the consumer experience is changing and “it’s no longer good enough just to be the best in your industry – consumers are comparing us to all experiences. It’s no longer enough to just be better than the hospitality companies”.

Other established companies are also realising they must lift their “customer experience” game. For example, Delta Airline’s focus on redefining the flight experience saw the company turn around from filing for bankruptcy in 2005 to record profits in 2016.

The company is continually trying to improve the customer experience, including the use of “heart rate monitors to track volunteer customers’ heartbeats at 11 stressful ‘moments of truth’ during the travel experience, including looking for parking at the airport, going through security and boarding the plane” and improving the customer experience at multiple touchpoints.

The Delta customer touchpoints involve face-to-face and digital interactions, as well as a key focus on employee morale and engagement. Getting it right is now relying more on acknowledging internal and external pain points and investing in getting digital engagement right through superior user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) interactions.

During a recent You Tube video, Research Daily Business Report ‘s Editor & Publisher Bob Lederer commented that the decline in participant engagement and completion rates may come down to the way that the industry treats its participants, noting that “for far too long there had been talk rather than action” to set things right.

The ongoing development of participant engagement strategies remains crucial for time-poor and easily-distracted panel members. The industry should be continually modifying the ‘rules of engagement’ in the same way that other industries, who want to survive the technological revolution, continue to do. Improving consumer participation satisfaction rates must be the foundation on which the ongoing viability and growth of the sector is based, because ignoring current feedback will be at the sector’s peril.

CRNRSTONE continues to engage with our panel through channels like our Soapbox Community. Our approach to developing Soapbox was shaped by consulting panel members, with the findings of this consultation detailed in our Enhanced Engagement White Paper. Elements that were implemented following feedback from our panel include clear communication when developing invitations/confirmations, mobile friendly surveys, screeners written to minimise time for participants, targeted surveys using profiled attributes, incentives aligned with task and time, easy redemptions – from $10 for points, fun prizes and polls, and Facebook-integrated login.

The development of our engagement with our Soapbox Community is a work in progress that can only enhance our relationship with them for their benefit as well as our clients.