Committed to supporting the customer survey requirements of community-owned utilities, GreatBlue Research is sharing insights into the world of market research. In excerpts below from the January 2020 issue of GreatBlue Point of View, you will learn what “margin of error” in polling means and why conducting customer surveys by telephone continues to be relevant.
–Steve VanderMeer, Senior Vice President, Planning & Marketing, Hometown Connections, Inc.
GreatBlue is the exclusive market research partner of Hometown Connections.
GreatBlue Point of View
Margin of Error
A large portion of the questions we are most frequently asked surround margin of error. These questions usually take the form of one of the following: “what is it?,” “why is it there?,” or “does that affect our results?.”
When you read our reports, you’ll often see a statistic that says, for example, “Confidence level of 95% with a margin of error +/- 4.5%.” In every statistical study performed, a certain degree of error is bound to occur. That isn’t to say it’s an error in calculations, but rather all studies are conducted on a sample of the population. What this means is that there is bound to be some degree of variation between what we’re reporting and what the entire population thinks since we’re surveying a portion of the population.
How should margin of error be interpreted? Imagine you’re having some blood collected so your doctor can run some tests. All of the blood in your body would represent the population. The blood taken to be tested would be your sample. Let’s say a confidence level of 95% with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5% is reported. This means that if your blood is tested 100 times (using 100 different samples), then the results of 95 tests should be within plus or minus 4.5% of the results of your first test.
The Relevancy of Telephone Data in 2020
Nowadays there’s a lot of discussion regarding the validity of continuing to use telephones as a method of collecting survey data and arguments are being made claiming it is an outdated practice. However, there are several key advantages of telephone data collection that prove it’s still one of the most effective ways to capture responses:
- Quick response times
- Just about everyone owns a landline or a cell phone, so there is ample audience from which to pull a sample
- A telephone interview has a personal touch. Researchers can interact directly with respondents and can conduct the interview in a skilled and professional manner
Many of our studies are conducted via phone interviews and we often talk about how we have our own, in-house call center. However, we don’t often take the time to explain why this is beneficial. Having an in-house call center ensures that the data we collect is always high-quality, and the responses we record accurately reflect the views of the audience we are surveying.
All of our call center staff are GreatBlue employees and go through a rigorous training process to ensure they gather high quality data. We do not utilize a “robo-dialer”, as all of our calls are made by our call center staff. Assisted by software-aided interviewing platforms, which allows for automatic skips if questions are non-applicable, these researchers are able to collect the data required to meet your needs.
A full-service market research firm using quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, GreatBlue Research studies customer perception and satisfaction, employee satisfaction, product awareness/interest, market visibility/needs assessment, and marketing effectiveness. Utilities receive statistically reliable data with thoughtful, concise insights and detailed recommendations. GreatBlue is a leader in tracking customer opinion data across the public power sector, able to show individual utilities how they compare to peer organizations nationwide.
For more information on GreatBlue’s market research solutions for public power, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.