How To Select The Right Research Tool To Get The Info You're Seeking

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Research is a marketing tool that drives credit union growth. The most popular types of research include telephone surveys, mail surveys, Internet surveys and focus groups.

Each one can generate valuable information and has distinct applications depending on what the credit union is trying to achieve.

Telephone, mail and Internet surveys are quantitative in nature. The data collected is quantifiable, and statistics are used to evaluate trends, member satisfaction and other factors that impact credit union growth. Focus groups represent qualitative research. The information revealed can be the most "telling," and used to enrich the CU's understanding of member experiences and behavior. Telephone surveys are suited for top-of-mind responses to a limited number of questions. The individuals polled should be highly targeted to help the credit union collect information and act accordingly. Closed account surveys, non-member awareness surveys, recent transaction surveys all are best served via a telephone approach.

Mail surveys, which can be longer and more detailed than phone surveys, are generally sent to a larger sampling of members. (And a key here is members not "non-members" as they will merely discard a written survey as junk mail.) Mail surveys can seek answers to what members think and how they feel about credit union services and operations, preferences when given options and limited open-ended feedback. Member satisfaction, service quality and combined research-sales component programs can all be met with a mail approach.

Internet surveys, perhaps the fastest growing segment, provide a cost-effective, quick and efficient way to get information. Web surveys tend to add a tech-user bias but can be effectively used to get feedback on specific services and some employee surveys.

Focus groups (small, in-person facilitated discussions) are qualitative in nature. They help credit union management get deeper, detailed information about preferences, desires, motivations and feelings. Member responses to proposed product introductions, pricing packages, a name change, in-depth feedback on employee preferences or non-member motivators to join can all be well-served by focus groups.

The key to research, in any case, is to start first with what you need to learn; then choose the right tool to get you there.

Neil Goldman is President of Member Research. For info: 310-643-6753 or

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