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The following post was co-written with Hilary Ranucci, Business Development Coordinator at RMS.

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Colleges and Universities are no stranger to market research, but we’ve noticed an uptick in K-12 school districts seeking market research services. To make the most informed decisions about your school district, you should have a strong understanding of your community, both past and present. Below are some common market research projects that school districts will benefit from the most.

Community Awareness Studies
The best way to gauge the perception of your district is to reach out to the very community that it is serving. Surveys can be conducted via mail, telephone, or online to capture a large volume of quantitative data, while focus groups will add a qualitative component to the research. Information gained from community awareness studies can include indicators of quality within a district (strengths), unique attributes, the school district image, and overall value ratings in curriculum content areas.

Graduate Surveys
Speaking to past students will provide the school district with a wealth of satisfaction information. Graduate surveys are typically conducted online or via phone, and questions are aimed at learning how satisfied graduates were with their education and how well-prepared they were for their post-graduation plans. Data gathered from the surveys will allow the district to determine which programs, content, or classes may need to be improved, and identify those are providing the most value. A knowledgeable market research vendor will help your school district determine how far back in the graduate database you will need to go when surveying to answer your research questions. Our clients have also found that graduate surveys are useful for creating and/or keeping an alumni base engaged for future initiatives.

Parent Surveys or Interviews
Parents are becoming increasingly interested and involved in the education their child(ren) receive. As a key community stakeholder, this demographic can provide valuable insight. Surveys can be conducted online or via phone, and interviews may take place in person or via phone. Survey questions should identify satisfaction with education policy, curriculum/programs, communication from the school district, and overall satisfaction with the services provided by the school district. Trending topics that we are also seeing become more prevalent in parent surveys include learning about perceived school safety, scheduling, and budget. Your market research consultant should work with you to determine the appropriate method to reach your parent audience, and which questions will produce the most valuable insight.

Employee Satisfaction Surveys
Employee satisfaction surveys are not limited to the business world. Like any other business operation, school districts should look internally for areas of opportunity. Staff immersed in the daily operation of school district will provide important insight into the perception and satisfaction with the school district as a workplace. We’ve noticed there is a direct link between strong employee engagement and organizational success. Online employee surveys are a powerful means to measure employee satisfaction and engagement. Perhaps most importantly, employee satisfaction surveys give the employees an anonymous outlet to note the aspects of their job and workplace that are most enjoyable, and identify areas of opportunity that would make them more engaged and loyal. Survey questions should focus on identifying areas where the school district is excelling and where they should improve, as well as finding ways to motivate employees. An important component to the employee satisfaction surveying process is the use of the data by school district. Once employees have voiced their opinion, it is important to let them know how the school district plans to use the feedback to improve their working experience.

RMS has worked with many school districts and conducted the studies outlined above. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development and Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS). 

Background: Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA) partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a study regarding its current satisfaction, loyalty, image, and needs among customers. The client wanted to better understand key drivers of customer satisfaction and loyalty, awareness levels of services offered at OCWA, and identify pricing options. The market research objective was to gather the insights needed for OCWA to provide an improved customer experience.

Approach: The study consisted of a telephone survey which resulted in 616 completions with a margin of error of +/- 3.95 at the 95% confidence interval. This means that there was strong statistical reliability in the sampling. The survey took approximately 10 minutes to complete, and was administered using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) software. RMS utilized its onsite call center QualiSight and experienced telesurveyor staff for the telephone survey fieldwork. Survey participants were selected from the client database list provided by OCWA. The project was complete in approximately eight weeks.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • Nearly all (99%) of survey respondents felt OCWA water service is reliable.
  • A large majority (93%) of survey respondents highly rated water quality provided by OCWA.
  • Most survey respondents (91%) felt water provided by OCWA is safe.
  • OCWA’s in-house customer service staff and employees in the field were both favorably rated by 97% of survey respondents.
  • Water was considered the most critical utility service by survey respondents (vs. gas, electric, phone, etc.).
  • Very few respondents (4%) did not have a favorable opinion of OCWA, and only 3% thought the cost of water provided by OCWA is not a good deal.

The announcement from OCWA regarding survey results can be found here.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

The following post was written by Samadhi Moreno, Healthcare Research Associate at RMS.

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I recently listened to a new AHRQ Podcast on the common concerns and misconceptions regarding the CAHPS surveys. The title of the podcast series was “CAHPS Surveys: Sorting Fact from Fiction” by Rebecca Anhang-Price.

CAHPS results are used for pay per performance measures and are publicly reported to encourage consumer’s involvement in their healthcare and promote quality improvement initiatives. Survey results impact reimbursement, so it is important to understand the common misconceptions providers may have regarding CAHPS surveys.

Some of the important points of the podcast include:

  • It is a common misconception that patient surveys do not provide valid information about care quality. The Institute of Medicine identifies patient centeredness as an important element of quality of care. The CAHPS surveys offer valid and reliable data to measure patient centeredness and patient experience.
  • CAHPS surveys measure patient experience, which is an important factor in quality of care that can only be measured by patient surveys. Good patient experience is correlated with good clinical outcomes, and is the reason CAHPS surveys are used for payment programs and performance measures.
  • CAHPS Survey offer patients an opportunity to voice their opinions. The results in contrast, help patients choose a provider based on the experience of care.
  • There seems to be a common misconception on whether patients are “knowledgeable” enough to report good care. However, if we take a look at the CAHPS surveys, these instruments ask patients to report on their experience of care. Patients are the best source for this type of information because they experience the care first hand. The CAHPS surveys do not assess any type of technical work, but rather complement existing technical measures.
  • Patient’s experience is not influenced by whether the physician chooses a treatment protocol that fulfills the patient desires, but focuses on how well the providers communicate about the treatment option chosen. There is no evidence that offering unnecessary care will increase CAHPS scores in providers.
  • There are certain strategies physicians can utilize to improve patient experience, such as:
    • Involving the patient in the decision making process
    • Discussing the context of the patient’s requests
    • Proposing alternatives to patient requests
  • Lastly, providers might be concerned with how the patient population served can affect the providers CAHPS scores. However, CAHPS scores included in the publically reported results are case-mix adjusted to account for the variation in the populations served by physicians.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a full service marketing and market research and consulting firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. As an approved CAHPS Vendor,  RMS’ Healthcare Department is composed of two divisions:(1) Healthcare Analytics and (2) Healthcare Practice Transformation. The Healthcare Analytics team is responsible for several aspects of the CAHPS Survey Administrations including the following product lines:  HCAHPS®, HH-CAHPS®, CG-CAHPS®, and ICH CAHPS®. The Practice Transformation team handles the coordination of quality initiatives to assist clients achieving Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition. To learn more about our healthcare services, contact Sandy Baker, Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS). 

Background: An advertising firm partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct image and awareness focus groups for their client, an international quick service restaurant. The end-client wanted to better understand consumer perceptions of the restaurant’s menu, products, pricing, facilities, employees, and the brand overall. The market research objective was to gather the insights needed for the restaurant to improve the customer experience.

Approach: The study consisted of three 100 minute focus groups. Focus group participants were selected from the RMS ViewPoint Research Panel based upon the frequency that they visit the restaurant. The first focus group included millennials who were either current or former restaurant users. The second group was made up of current restaurant users, and the last group included only former users of the quick service restaurant. RMS staff moderated the focus groups, which were held at the RMS QualiSight Focus Group facility in Baldwinsville, NY. RMS recruited 12 participants for each group, to ultimately seat 10 to participate in the discussion. RMS completed the project in approximately six weeks.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • Participants reviewed several commercials, identified their favorite, and provided feedback on how the commercials could be improved. This allowed the end-client to determine the appropriate message for each customer type.
  • Research revealed what the restaurant is known for among consumers, allowing the end-client to identify brand strengths and areas of opportunity.
  • Participants identified top competitors and reasons for choosing them instead of the end-client restaurant. Consumers noted that they are willing to pay slightly more for what they perceive to be fresher, higher quality ingredients.
  • It was clear that the consumer definition of “fresh” has evolved in recent years. Although the client was a previous leader in the healthy eating movement, focus group participants felt that the quick service restaurant has not evolved with the perception of fresh and has thus faced steep competition by newer restaurant entrants to the healthy eating movement.
  • Participant feedback revealed the need for the restaurant to update the quality and variety of ingredients, and refresh the restaurant facilities. One of the recommendations offered by RMS in the project report included the suggestion that the restaurant re-tool the commercials to demonstrate the improvements made in an effort to better meet consumer needs.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

The following post was written by Maggy Stewart, Marketing & Communications Coordinator at RMS.

The U.S. News & World Report examined the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the United States and released the results earlier this month. For the inaugural Best Places to Live rankings, the 100 largest metro areas by population as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau were selected. Syracuse, New York (located approximately 13 miles from the home of Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. in Baldwinsville, NY) ranks as number 53 with an overall score of 6.5 out of 10.

Syracuse has a metro population of 662,236, and offers residents more than a typical city in the snow belt. The Syracuse Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of three counties—Onondaga, where Syracuse is located, and neighboring Madison and Oswego Counties—each of which contain highly sought-after school districts and suburbs, including Baldwinsville, Cazenovia, Manlius, Skaneateles and more. Syracuse offers a better value than similarly sized cities when you compare housing costs to median household income, according to U.S. News & World Report. The area’s affordability makes it an appealing location for families and young professionals.

And there’s more — not only does the Central New York area offer four seasons, above average school districts, affordable housing, and convenient commutes, it is also one of the nation’s top test markets due to its demographic representation of the United States as a whole (see the chart below for the comparison).

demographics graph 2016-01

Onondaga County has become a top choice market to test and refine campaigns and products before going national. Whether establishing a marketing campaign or developing a novel concept or product, it is vital to identify the behaviors of the intended market. This is where market research steps in. Executing a market research project in an ideal and sound test market establishes a more accurate depiction of how feasible the campaign, concept, or product is. When you want to take your product or service national and can’t test the entire population, it makes sense to test a region that closely mimics its demographics. Onondaga County is not only a prime market for those interested in testing for local or national campaigns, it is also progressively becoming one of the premier places to call home.

Interested in learning more about using Onondaga County as the test market for your product or service? Contact our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or 1-866-567-5422.

The following post was written by Samadhi Moreno, Healthcare Research Associate at RMS.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently announced a new exciting research project titled: “Using Patient Experience Information in Hospitals: A survey of Hospital Quality Leaders.” The project aims to answer the following questions:

  • How do hospitals collect patient experience data?
  • How do HCAHPS results influence a hospital’s efforts to improve patient experience?
  • What types of QI activities do hospitals implement to impact their HCAHPS scores?
  • Does hospital leadership see the value in HCAHPS scores?

AHRQ interviewed hospital quality leaders, hospital staff, hospital quality consultants, and HCAHPS vendors to determine potential survey topics. Using the results from these interviews, the AHRQ team developed potential questions to include in the survey. These questions were then used in the two additional rounds of cognitive interviews that were conducted with hospital quality leaders for feedback to then develop the survey instrument.

The survey instrument developed by AHRQ collects information about the hospital and the respondent on the following topics (2016):

  • Collection of HCAHPS and supplemental data for assessing patient experience
  • Activities to improve patient experience
  • Reporting of HCAHPS and other patient experience
  • Perspectives on HCAHPS
  • Institutional priority given to patient experience
  • Incentives, accountability, and compensation for patient experience scores

This survey will be administered to 500 hospitals of varying sizes and performance levels that publicly report HCAHPS scores and were part of the American Hospital Annual Survey.

Why is this important?

The results of this survey will provide information regarding the activities hospitals implement to improve HCAHPS scores. This can be useful for hospitals that are lagging in terms of patient experience and CAHPS scores. CAHPS surveys score aspects of care that can be helpful for health care executives to improve patient experience. The HCAHPS survey collects information on the patient experience regarding topics such as: the care from nurses, the patient experience in the hospital and after discharge, the overall hospital rating, and the understanding of his/her health once at home.

Many organizations have implemented products and services to improve the CAHPS scores in their organizations. CMS HCAHPS scores can be compared across hospitals regardless of patient mix; therefore the results of this study can be helpful for hospitals to improve bottom box scores.

The full research summary can be accessed here.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a full service marketing and market research and consulting firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. As an approved CAHPS Vendor RMS’ Healthcare Department is composed of two divisions:(1) Healthcare Analytics and Healthcare Practice Transformation. The Healthcare Analytics team is responsible for several aspects of the CAHPS Survey Administrations including the following product lines HCAHPS®, HH-CAHPS®, CG-CAHPS®, and ICH CAHPS® and (2) Practice Transformation which handles the coordination of quality initiatives to assist clients achieving Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition. To learn more about our healthcare services, please contact Sandy Baker, Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

Recently, I attended the Central New York (CNY) Sales & Marketing Executives (SME) Valuable Sales & Lessons Techniques event. The event featured veterans from the sales industry who revealed key lessons from their professional experiences. Although I work in market research, it’s evident that these best practices are transferable to other industries. Below are three key takeaways learned from sales industry veterans that any businessperson will find useful.

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  1. Put customer’s interests first

The forefront goal in business is to make your clients happy. By putting your clients’ interests first, you can think strategically about how your organization can solve their most pressing issues. In my opinion, the most successful businesses combine creativity, innovation, and hard work to “wow” clients.

  1. Make everyone else happy

Once you’ve made your clients happy, be sure your employees are satisfied too. Make sure your company offers employees the resources needed to create the best work possible. This will help make the organization an enjoyable and rewarding place to work. Employee satisfaction is crucial to creating a more cohesive brand and stronger company identity. Measuring employee satisfaction is a great way to benchmark overall satisfaction and anonymously identify areas of success and opportunity.

  1. Use social media

Social media platforms are often used by clients to learn more about an organization and its leaders before engaging in a business relationship. Of course a prospective client will look at your website, but they may also look your company up on Google and be directed to visit your business’ Facebook page, Twitter account, or Instagram profile. These social networks often give an inside look into the culture of an organization, allowing prospective clients to gain an initial view of your business before an official conversation has begun. Be present and strategic when posting on social media, knowing that it feeds consumers’ mindsets. When used effectively, organizations can see great results from its social media efforts.

About RMS

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a full service marketing and market research firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. RMS provides an array of research methodologies that result in actionable insights and recommendations for the client to enhance decision making. RMS is also home to QualiSight, a premier focus group and interview research facility, and RMS ViewPoint, a leading consumer research panel in Central New York. To learn more, visit our website at: RMSresults.com.

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