Sampling Automation: How to Make Automation Successful

By JD Deitch, P2Sample

Following on from the good, bad and ugly sides of automated sampling, I will now tell you how to successfully implement an automated sampling process.

In part one of this series, I presented an overview of automation and the “good” effects on the sampling industry. Several key operational processes are now automated, including transmission of survey specs and the redirection of participants to surveys. Companies that have embraced automation are enjoying faster execution, lower operating costs, and reduced error rates. Their clients are enjoying these benefits as well. Indeed, automation has already become a competitive advantage.

In part two, I explored the “bad” effects that have arisen from uneven and poorly-design automation efforts. It is not automation itself that is at fault for these things, rather insufficient planning or desire to fully engage on the part of suppliers. There is a vicious circle that is starting to engulf laggard companies that is hurting their capabilities, agility, and quality. In addition, I covered “ugly” effects, called so because there is no better word to describe practices that are so short-sighted, intellectually wanting, and hypocritical. From miserable participant experiences to field delays and bad data to inadequate fraud detection, it is a sorry state of affairs. Now let’s look at what we can do about it.

Eliminating the Bad and the Ugly

Automation—properly implemented and oriented to optimize the participant experience— substantially mitigates and can even eliminate these problems. Indeed, it is in the self-interest of sample providers to take responsibility for tackling these issues. Below are just some of the things research clients and suppliers can do to change bad and ugly to good.

Listen to Participants – Act on Their Feedback

Participant ratings, comments, and dropout rates provide essential information on the quality of the experience and thus the quality of the final data. Automation allows us to monitor these and take remedial action in real time. Clients are always pleased when you proactively spot and solve problems before it is too late.

Insist on Strong API Integration and Regular Optimization

APIs are amazing tools when implemented correctly. This means fully mapping common demographic variables. It also means monitoring the speed of the exchange and making sure there are no “leaks” where participants disappear in transit. This prevents the incessant re-asking of basic questions that respondents should, at most, be required to answer only once. Maintenance and tuning are essential to keep them in working order. This goes for both supply and demand APIs. Strong, mutually beneficial partnerships are forged when everyone works together to optimize the respondent experience.

Don’t Use Routers as Dumpsters

A corollary to strong API integration is to refrain from dropping potential participants into routers where there is no integration. We typically see this when suppliers run out of revenue-producing surveys for which a participant is qualified. They do not expect to get paid well, but they will get paid. The participant experience reflects this: router dumps are a terrible experience for the participant for reasons we have mentioned above.

Technology and automation are powerful tools that are bringing huge benefits to our industry. As companies (perhaps yours) stride forward into this new era, they must do so thoughtfully. The siren’s song of speed and cost-savings is seductive. But without a more comprehensive and disciplined approach, these benefits will not be realized, and there will only be additional costs. Moreover, as clients and suppliers transform their technical and operational practices, they will also need to think broadly about the implications for their teams and the knowledge they bring to the business. The revolution in technology we are witnessing will have consequences that will be with us for years to come.

By JD Deitch, P2Sample