Working in the research industry, co-workers around here are often sharing their experiences about being approached to participate in research, whether it’s after trying a new product at a fair or providing feedback on the car-buying experience. I have to say, I was starting to feel a little left out. Pollsters never call. A focus group has never recruited me. I’ve never been stopped at the mall, and when told that I’ve been selected to fill out a survey online I almost never qualify. Aside from the generic answer-this-survey-for-15-percent-off-your-next-purchase on every receipt handed to me at JCPenney and PetSmart, my involvement in research has been extremely limited as a respondent.
Until last week.
I was sitting on the couch playing Words With Friends with reruns of My So-Called Life on in the background when my home phone rang. It was Desmond, calling from a research firm on behalf of my cable services provider asking me if I would like to participate in a customer satisfaction survey. You bet I would!
My first job in college was as a telephone research interviewer so I fully understand how good it feels to have someone, you know, actually willing to give a “complete.” Plus, it just seems wrong to refuse participating in research when every month we publish articles stressing how important it is and how much respondent feedback is valued! (Had he called me during the Top Chef: All Stars season finale, I might not have been as receptive but that’s another blog for another day, I suppose.)
This is the first phone survey I’ve been part of since starting working at Quirk’s. As I was answering I realized I was agonizing over where I would fall in the results. What would it mean if I don’t give top-box scores in a few areas when I really am pleased with the overall service? Does my geographic location and attitude (“Minnesota Nice”) bias the scores I’m giving? How will my response to this open-ended answer be coded and used to change procedures?
I was analyzing myself as a respondent and trying to suss out the aim of the survey as I was answering Desmond’s questions. The whole thing was very meta.
At the end, Desmond asked me if I would be interested in becoming part of a Comcast panel, wherein I would be asked to provide feedback at least four times each month and receive $25 in my PayPal account or as a credit for Amazon.com. I don’t know what the going rate is these days and I really don’t care. An opportunity to see what it’s like inside a panel and earn a little lunch money while I’m at it? Yes, please! Sign me up.
I’m genuinely excited to be involved and can’t wait to see what it’s like on the other side. After all, TV is, admittedly, my lifeblood. I’m sure this can only be a good thing but I’m a little concerned that my knowledge of panels and their various and sundry components is somewhat of a hindrance. Tell me, how does being a researcher change how you respond to research? Does it make you more or less desirable as a respondent? More or less valid?