Education Return on Investment: A Green Initiative Saves Money and Improves Response Rates

Background:

A government agency hosts several conferences and actively seeks feedback from session attendees on a variety of subject matter including session topic relevance, session administration, speaker knowledge, etc. Because of an initiative to reduce paper and use more environmentally sound methods, this long-time customer of Feedback Systems requested a change to data collection methods from a traditional paper format to a green electronic format.  

Working with the customer, Feedback Systems was able to not only implement a more environmentally friendly solution but one that was easier to administer, provided customized survey questions to attendees, yielded more robust results, and decreased the amount of time needed to process and report the results.

Problems and Challenges:

Going from paper to a digital format presented several challenges, including:

  • Would response rates suffer with a new data collection method?
  • What is the best way to collect the feedback electronically from conference attendees who are moving through the event? E-mail to web? SMS?
  • What is the best way to capture as much feedback from as many attendees as possible including verbatim comments?
  • How to maintain accuracy and reliability?
Methodologies and Solutions:

To collect the comments from session attendees, there were several options that we considered but found limiting.

  • Attendees could fill out electronic surveys immediately following a session on hand-held units—participation would be high but it may be cost prohibitive.
  • After the conference, attendees could go to a website and pick sessions they attended and receive a questionnaire based on their input—relatively easy to implement but reliability could suffer since attendees may not select all the sessions they went to, the response rate may be low.

The solution: Feedback Systems found a way to collect data on the exact sessions attendees went to and prepared customized surveys for each participant through a web-based host.

At the beginning of each session, attendees’ badges were scanned to track who attended each session. The morning following each session, attendees received an e-mail with a link to a Web survey that asked for feedback on exactly the sessions they attended.  

This format provided several advantages including:

  • Surveys were customized based on attendance so they were very reliable.
  • Surveys were timely so the respondent was able to give feedback soon after the session—also making them reliable
  • The surveys used cutting-edge technology and were mobile optimized
  • This survey format allowed for dynamic, real-time reporting
  • Data was processed and complied much more quickly than prior paper versions—making the project more economical
  • The format met the customers green, environmentally conscious initiative

A major concern of the new survey format was attendee response rate.  How many people would complete the surveys through a web-based format?  The client wanted a 10 - 15 percent response rate—which is high for web-based surveys.  

The survey received 35 percent response rate, which is attributed to the customized nature of the e-mails and web surveys making them more personal and user-friendly to the participants.