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Customer Panel Best Practices: 4 Questions to Ask Before Refreshing

Conducting a refresh on your custom research panel is kind of like dragging your fall clothes out of the attic in October.  Ideally, everything you carefully put into place in the spring still fits, but in all likelihood, a few things are going to go to the thrift store and you’ll have to make a trip to the mall for new sweaters.

Similarly, when you first built your customer panel, you included all those important profile questions that would allow you to select sample for studies and to segment your customers into the categories you evaluate most often.   

Maybe you appended transactional data from your customer database. Or you provided your customers with access to their profile information so that they could make changes as needed. In short, you created a profile survey that would make conducting regular research as easy as possible.   

Why wouldn’t you just continue using the custom research panel you built, with the profile survey you have?  Because like some of your old fall clothes, elements of your panel might no longer fit your business or your customers’ needs.  

How do you know it’s time for a panel refresh? Consider the following:

  • Are there new competitors in the landscape that weren’t around when your customer panel was built? You’ll need to update your usage questions to include them and possibly remove others that no longer apply.
  • Do you have new product lines that you would like to focus on in upcoming research? The research panel may have been built before the lines launched, leaving you no way to identify users in your panel for that purpose.
  • How long has it been since the last one? The simple passage of time can cause changes in the demographic profiles of your customers, and panelists are not always proactive about updating their information.
  • How’s your panel performing?  Even with regular maintenance to remove non-responders, response rate will deteriorate over time. Inviting all of your existing panelists (as well as bringing in new recruits) to complete a new profile survey gives you a clear picture of who is still actively participating, and helps you build a cleaner, more responsive panel.

Not every custom panel needs to be refreshed on the same schedule, of course. Ongoing panel performance and your evolving business needs are the key drivers. 

Heather Primm
Heather Primm
Heather Primm

Heather Primm, Director of Operations, came to Data Decisions Group in 1996 in a part-time capacity as an interviewer in the call center at night while working in property management during the day. Now, over twenty years later, Heather has spent time in almost every functional area of the company, working in quality control, project coordination, project management, product management, and now management of the operations team that delivers high-quality data and research solutions to our clients.

In her role at Data Decisions Group, Heather wears a number of different hats: consulting at the project level, keeping the team abreast of legislative changes that impact our industry, product development, process improvement, and relationship management. What she loves best about the work she does is helping deliver high-quality, actionable results to our clients that allow them to improve their business performance…and their bottom line.

Heather received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992.