Tangled surveys on the web

The web of course, is perfect medium for surveys. It’s fast and low cost.
But are web surveys of any use, asks Rodger Gallagher in Customer Value Management.
“Do they provide the accurate information needed for business to base decisions on?”
Sample size is often quoted as the key indicator to be statistically reliable, but factors such as random sampling, structured questions, and respondent interaction with the medium all have an impact, he says.
Gallagher quotes the example of recent polls on NZ political parties on Xtra’s website.
The poll asked site visitors to click on political party.
“So the poll sample was firstly open to those anywhere in the world with Internet access who visited that site.
“And secondly it was completed by those people interested enough to click one of the boxes.
“The sample is nothing like the make-up of the NZ voting population. And while it was only intended as bit of fun, the high vote for the Legalise Marijuana party in the pool that did not line up with the actual election result demonstrates what happens when sample isn’t representative of the target population.
“So for web based survey to provide reliable results, it needs to be designed and managed like other fieldwork.”

Web limitations
A major limitation of WWW surveys for customer, employee, supplier satisfaction or value research, is the limited penetration of access to the Web of the general public.
With access varying from 30 percent to 60 percent in many countries, large percentage of consumers can’t be reached by Web survey.
“For now at least, Web surveys must either be supplemented by more inclusive technique or restricted to areas with near 100 percent penetration such as where all employees are online, or business to business customer surveys in hi-tech industry.”

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