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Difficult business problems require innovative ideas to solve them. Utilizing market research provides business decision makers with the insight needed to overcome these hurdles. Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) knows that when conducted appropriately, market research can have a generous return on investment (ROI).

110 m hurdles

Here are four examples for how market research can improve a business’ ROI:

  1. Understanding your market

Knowing your brand’s position and reputation is key to understanding your market. From here it is important to understand who your target audience is and what motivates them. It is also important to recognize how your target audience views your brand, and how that may differ from how leaders at your business view your brand. Knowing all of this will help your organization generate solutions geared towards your target market, as well as assist your organization in developing marketing that will effectively resonate with your target audience.

  1. Utilizing human resources effectively

As discussed in a previous blog, satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers.  One way to evaluate employee satisfaction is to conduct employee satisfaction surveys. Leave room in the survey to ask employees for ideas on how to improve business operations. Front-line employees are extremely underutilized when it comes to corporate insight and strategic planning.  Employees often see operational issues more clearly, and may have innovative ideas they have not yet communicated to business leaders.

  1. Improving your operations

In general, market research can help guide business operations through efficient and effective decision making.  Utilizing insights for decision making ensures that you aren’t wasting resources on plans that won’t be well received by your users.  Another way that market research can directly impact your operations is by segmenting your audience and identifying opportunities to better serve your market, while at the same time saving resources.  An example of this for retail is that some organizations have found certain customers prefer a self check-out.  Customers using these in addition to regular check-out lines decreases overall wait-times, and create an opportunity for staff to provide additional customer support, ultimately boosting sales.  Banking has found many opportunities in this area as well, through expanding features for online portals, smart phone applications, and self-serve kiosks.  Understanding customer preferences and segmenting audiences in this manner will help an organization generate a strategy that accommodates all users, while also taking advantage of more efficient platforms.

  1. Insight on your product/service offering

Research is a great tool when assessing consumer habits. Usage studies provide consumer insight to business decisions makers. The key is to ask the right questions that will help you understand how to be more valuable to consumers. Focus groups, feasibility studies, in-home usage testing (IHUTs), and longitudinal tracking studies are all examples of methods used in market research to evaluate products or services. Failed products like these (or these) could have benefited from additional market research to evaluate consumers’ perceptions, which may have saved their organizations from a costly product failure.

RMS is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in improving your business’ ROI, or learning more about how market research services can improve your organization, please contact the Senior Director of Business Development and Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

At Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS), we understand the top barriers to conducting employee surveys.  From the perspective of employers, a common barrier is the fear of receiving negative feedback from employees. Most business owners would agree that they prefer happy hardworking employees to dissatisfied ones. To create a positive work environment, business owners must understand employees’ expectations – what they like about the workplace, what they dislike, as well as what they need and want to be productive in their jobs.  Employee surveys are an insightful tool to gather this information.Employee Satisfaction Gears

 

Here are three reasons why you should conduct employee surveys:

  1. Increase Employee Satisfaction

Engaging employees is a critical step to establishing a positive culture in the workplace. Give employees an opportunity to offer input into their work environment, provide opinions, offer suggestions, and share workplace expectations. Employee satisfaction surveys are a great tool to benchmark overall satisfaction, measure expectations, gather opinions, and to gauge perceptions anonymously. Moreover, engaged employees are most likely to remain with your organization minimizing expensive employee turnover costs.

  1. Increase Organization Effectiveness

In a study, Heskett, Sasser, and Schlesinger1 talk about the “satisfaction mirror,” a continuous process in which employee attitudes and behavior are reflected in customers. Their research showed that satisfied and engaged employees result in greater customer loyalty to the company, increased repeat business, and more positive word-of-mouth comments about the organization. By increasing employee satisfaction you will create a more cohesive brand and stronger company identity.

  1. Increase Bottom Line

According to Hay Group2, a leading human resources consulting firm, companies that maintain a high employee satisfaction and engagement rating achieve 2.5 times the revenue growth than those that have the lowest rating. This research also showed that highly satisfied employees increase customers’ satisfaction and loyalty. Customer satisfaction and repurchase intent is twice as strong among firms where employees report high employee satisfaction.3

Employee satisfaction surveys are an excellent tool to learn from your employees and create a forum for two-way communication. Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services please contact the Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

1 Heskett, J., Sasser, W. E., & Schelsinger, L. (1997) The Service Profit Chain. New York: The Free Press.

2 Hay Group. (2014). The New Rules of Engagement. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.haygroup.com/en/our-library/whitepapers/new-rules-of-engagement-report/

3 Groenig, C., Evanschitzky, H., Mittal, V., & Wunderlich, M. (2011). Customer, Employer, and Employee Satisfaction in Small-Service Settings: An Application to Franchise Networks. Journal of Service Research, June.

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

Background: A State University of New York College partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a program feasibility study. The college wanted to better understand the competitive landscape, occupational supply and demand, and potential learner interest in a select number of master’s programs to guide recruitment efforts. The market research objective was to provide insights needed to determine whether the new programs would be viable in the current and projected market.

higher ed feasibility case study photo

Approach: The study consisted of three components: a competitive analysis, occupational supply and demand analysis, and a market demand survey. For the competitive analysis, RMS provided detailed profiles of institutions chosen by the client, and determined the college’s top competitors based on market share. The occupational supply and demand analysis involved the investigation of professions relevant to the master’s programs being examined to determine labor market demand. The market demand survey was administered to targeted learners matching the desired profile within the college’s geographic region to assess student demand for the graduate offerings. RMS purchased a targeted sample pool for the online survey. A total of 652 surveys were completed, and fieldwork lasted approximately 6 weeks.

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

  • Regardless of the program, online survey respondents preferred a part-time course schedule with classes held on weekday evenings, hybrid instruction, and a traditional multi-year format.
  • When online survey respondents were asked about their most common techniques for investigating potential institutions to attend for further education, the majority indicated the internet (including the college website), and word-of-mouth via family and friends as preferred techniques.
  • For all programs investigated, the occupational supply and demand analysis revealed that the average salary a graduate could expect to earn in New York State was higher than the national average.
  • The competitive analysis revealed a gap in the perceived top competitors and those who claim the largest market share for that program. This allowed our client to further investigate the true competitors and determine areas of opportunity for increasing their competitiveness in the marketplace.
  • Across programs, the majority of respondents indicated that they work full-time and are between 18-34 years old. This provided our client with the insight needed to determine that their target market is primarily made up of young professionals who need a flexible program to fit their lifestyle.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in conducting a market research project, 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 atwww.RMSresults.com.

This blog post was written by our guest blogger Megan O’Donnell, Manager at Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) Healthcare Division.

Improving CAHPS response rates is top of mind for many of our clients.  In our experience, Telephone Only and Mixed modes of survey administration result in higher response rates than Mail Only mode. The following blinded case study addresses the issues an RMS client was facing, the steps taken to overcome the issues, and the resulting success of the changes.

Background: A hospital, operating in a large metropolitan city, serving an inner city population, was experiencing very low response rates to its Mail Only administration of the Hospital CAHPS survey being conducted by a large national survey vendor. In addition, the hospital’s survey results were falling consistently below the averages for their state and national averages. Furthermore, the hospital was concerned that such low response rates would make taking actions based on those responses to be questionable business decision-making. The low response rate (9% from 2nd Quarter 2012 through 1st Quarter 2013) troubled the hospital’s administration enough to seek out a solution to improve these rates. In early 2013, the hospital administration came across a blog post by RMS that seemed to present a solution (HCAHPS® Response Rate | Approved Vendor RMS Far Exceeds National Average).  The hospital team contacted RMS, made the decision to switch survey vendors, and employed the Telephone Only mode in an attempt to improve its overall response rates.

Approach: In order to address the objectives at-hand, while following all procedures and protocols outlined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the RMS Healthcare team worked with the hospital’s administrative team to roll out the Hospital CAHPS survey telephone administration in July 2013. To encourage participation, RMS developed signage for the hospital to post around its facility regarding the survey, letting patients know that they may receive a call from Research & Marketing Strategies on behalf of the hospital and encouraging patients to provide accurate contact information and to answer the call when it came.

At the onset of survey administration, RMS Healthcare encountered a high volume of inaccurate telephone numbers. The hospital administration corrected this issue by training its admission staff to explain the importance of accurate contact information. In addition, administrative rounding staff reiterated the importance of the survey and accuracy of contact information during the patients’ hospital stays. After these efforts were employed, RMS saw a considerable increase in viable telephone numbers during survey administration.

Results: Here are a few key takeaways that have resulted from the change in survey administration mode for the client:

  • There was a 155% increase in response rate after the first full year of Telephone Only surveying with RMS.  The 9% response rate the hospital was getting using the Mail Only mode was increased to 23% in the first year of RMS survey administration.
  • High statistical reliability in the survey results.  By choosing to include all eligible patients in the survey administration, the hospital’s survey results have a confidence interval of ±3.5% at the 95% confidence level (Industry standard for statistical reliability is ±5% at the 95% confidence level].
  • Improved accuracy of survey results.  Utilization of the Telephone Only mode of survey administration means that the telephone interviewer controls the routing of questions and accuracy of responses. Therefore, no patient has an opportunity to answer a question if it is not relevant to their  hospital stay (screening questions are followed automatically by the computer-assisted-telephone-interviewing system).

The hospital continues to engage with RMS regarding the survey response rates and overall scores, utilizing the RMS CAHPS Portal as a means of getting up-to-date survey results in addition to the monthly and quarterly reports they receive from RMS. Now that the hospital can feel confident in the accuracy of the survey results, they can make smart action plans to address survey results and improve the patient experience for its patients.

Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) is a market research firm that specializes in healthcare market research and the CAHPS family of surveys. Are you interested in finding out more about Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) and how our CMS approved vendor healthcare division can help increase your CAHPS® response rate? For more information contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker, at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling her at (315) 635-9802. For other RMS blog posts about the CAHPS® process – click here.

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Erica Winters, Research Analyst, represented RMS at the Demystifying Content Marketing seminar hosted by Eric Mower & Associates, and presented by Matt Read. Below are the key takeaways for implementing a content marketing strategy.

  1. For optimal brand engagement and buy-in from consumers, marketers need to do several things. They need to tell a good story, get the audience engaged, and build a relationship. A consumer may be drawn in by a great story, but you need to provide engaging content to keep them interested, and you need to establish a relationship to get the consumer to continue engaging with your brand.
  1. There are three types of media – paid, owned, and earned. Paid media are advertisements that are bought. Matt used the example “it’s paying to put something somewhere.” Examples of owned media include a company website and a personal twitter feed. They’re managed by your company (or an individual). When marketers get it right, paid media and owned media result in earned media such as social network sharing and press coverage.
  1. If you’re doing it, you better be measuring it. You need to monitor performance to determine success and find areas of opportunity. When it comes to social media, shares are more important to monitor than followers and likes. Shares result in a much wider projection of content than a like or follow.
  1. Focus your business energy into a select suite of social media sites. You can’t do everything for everyone. It’s better to do a great job on one or two sites, than it is to be half as good on many. It all comes back to providing engaging and relevant content.
  1. The golden rule of social media content: for every one promotional post, you should implement three posts that are relevant and interesting to your audience, but not geared towards selling your product or services. Whether it’s for B2B or B2C, people do not want to be “sold to” all the time. They’re more interested in relevant resources, and being informed and entertained.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

In-depth interviews (IDIs) are an insightful qualitative research method that allows the researcher to tap into the mind of consumers. To keep costs down, many businesses choose to complete IDIs via telephone, rather than the more costly option of conducting the interviews in-person.  While telephone IDIs provide a cost advantage, the researcher loses the ability to read visual cues provided by the respondent when answering questions. Due to the inability to communicate face-to-face, there are extra steps that should be taken to ensure open-ended questions asked via telephone are transcribed effectively.

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Here are four tips to transcribe open-ended responses:

  1. The importance of quality responses

Quality of data is more important than quantity. Ensure that the responses you are transcribing make logical sense. Also, don’t force a complete. If you notice that your respondent is not offering valuable information to the end client, feel free to stop the interview. There is no rule that says you have to finish every interview you start!

  1. Keep the responses clean

The RMS analytics team will go through and re-read every open-ended response, so we try to make sure all responses are free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Not having a consistent format and clean responses will lead to poor reporting or excessive data cleaning time.

  1. Probe for additional details

Suppose your respondent replies to a satisfaction question by stating, “It was good.” From here the researcher should follow up by asking the respondent why “it was good.” To be diligent about probing, we suggest always following up on questions where respondents provide three words or less. Best practices in research suggest that probing on open-ended questions leads to more in-depth responses, and ultimately provide the client with more rich data.1

  1. Record responses verbatim

The researcher should record responses as stated by the respondents. This means the researcher should be recording responses in first person. For example, instead of, “He feels the hours should be longer,” record, “I feel the hours should be longer.” Additionally, do not try to summarize the respondent’s comments, or use your own words to make responses more concise. Try to capture as much as you can from the respondent’s own words.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services, please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

1 Smith, S., & Albaum, G. (2012). Basic Marketing Research: Volume 1. Handbook for Research Professionals. Official Training Guide from Qualtrics. Retrieved from: https://www.du.edu/ir/pdf/basic_marketing_research_vol_1

incentive

It is common practice for market researchers to encourage participation in research studies by providing incentives. What many researchers struggle with is the decision to provide multiple incentives of a smaller value, or fewer incentives of a larger value, as well as, what type of incentive to offer. Which option will encourage optimal participation? Opinions vary on the best approach, but there are a couple tips to keep in mind when deciding which incentive strategy to utilize to encourage voluntary participation.

  1. Consider the Methodology

How are you gathering the data? Are you implementing a focus group, online survey, telephone survey, or in-depth interviews? Or perhaps you will use a mixed-mode approach. It’s important to be mindful of the differences in time commitment for each of these modalities, and be prepared to reward participants accordingly. For example, focus groups and in-depth interviews tend to take the most time to complete, and will therefore require a larger investment (in most cases) than a 5-minute online survey. An additional caveat to consider with focus groups is the travel time invested on the part of the participant. Unlike a survey respondent who can participate remotely via numerous electronic devices, a typical focus group participant must be physically present and responsible for their own transportation. This additional level of investment on behalf of the participant influences the incentive expectation.

  1. Consider the Content

Regardless of the research modality chosen, the content being requested from the participant will play a large role in response rate. If the content is perceived too personal for the incentive being offered, the response rate will drop. In that case, it will be critical to understand the incentive preferences of the target audience. More on that topic below.

  1. Consider the Audience

Do you know anything about the preferences of your audience? For example, a younger group of participants may find value in knowing that upon the completion of a survey, they will be guaranteed a free Redbox code which can be redeemed for a DVD rental, while an online survey targeting senior citizens may not find as much success with that approach. There are a myriad of incentive options available, from every gift card imaginable, to digital codes for Redbox and Amazon, product giveaways (such as the commonly used iPad giveaway), and good old fashioned cash. If you are in tune with your target audience, you may already have the data you need to determine which incentive is the optimal choice. Do you have demographic information such as age, gender, educational attainment, and current work status? Using available demographic information may allow you to make an educated inference into the preferences of your target audience.

  1. Consider Incentive Fees

Some gift cards require activation fees, and unless the incentive is in the form of a digital code that can be emailed, the incentive will require fees for postage and internal administrative costs to prepare the mailings. These costs can add up quickly depending upon the expected number of completions from the study, so it will be important to set aside a portion of the project budget to cover these expenses.

  1. Consider Experimenting

If your organization routinely conducts research, the best approach may be trial and error. Start with an incentive strategy that current knowledge of the audience suggests may be most valuable, and update accordingly. Consider experimenting with different types of incentives (cash, products, and gift cards), the value of the incentive, and number awarded. Here at RMS, we routinely conduct focus groups, online surveys, in-depth interviews, and telephone interviews, so we have been able to establish a general guideline that has proven effective for our clients. The golden rule of thumb, however, is that you must consider the research project holistically – the methodology, content, target audience, and project budget – when creating an incentive strategy. Taking the time to create an incentive plan appropriate for the target audience well before conducting fieldwork will set the stage for success.

If you’re interested in conducting a market research project, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.

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