Has the proliferation of of DIY survey tools improved the standard of surveys that we see in the media? Probably not seems to be the answer. Seth Godin's recent post on surveys raises some interesting points. He identifies four kinds of survey:
- Census Surveys
- Public Surveys
- Professional Surveys
- Census-based Analytics
I think the type we see most in the media is the public survey which typically quotes a "58% of listeners think..." type of statement. Certainly, surveys are more and more popular in the media and as the basis of press releases. In itself, that isn't a bad thing. What has to be avoided though is confusing these voodoo polls* with a carefully structured, scientifically designed survey sent to a representative sample of your audience.
It's worth considering that although the necessity of basing the results of a CSM survey on a representative sample of customers is widely acknowledged, the technical aspects of doing so are little understood and often neglected, making the survey unreliable and not much better than a 'voodoo poll'.
*Voodoo polls is the term commonly used to refer to the voluntary sort of surveys used on the TV and radio - 'text in and let us know what you think'. This type of survey notoriously suffers from unrepresentative samples and is generally unreliable.