Exit surveys are an excellent way to guarantee feedback around an event. With the amount of online surveys being sent and offered to respondents and the decline of phone survey participants, person-to-person engagement is often required to break-through and obtain feedback. Callers can ignore your survey through caller ID, they can delete your email invitation, they can throw out your mail survey, but it's much more difficult to turn a person down face-to-face. Many still do but the percentage is much smaller. Exit survey teams use this to their advantage to collect feedback.
Exit surveys are an excellent way to collect in-the-moment feedback and ensure you'll obtain a high number of quality responses in real-time at the event.
What is an Exit Survey?
An exit survey is a type of market research designed to collect feedback from attendees, guests, fans, or patrons as they leave an event. The ultimate goal is to gather feedback and data about their experience. The key benefit of an exit survey is the ability to collect feedback in-the-moment while the experience is still fresh in the mind of the attendee.
Exit interviews are often staffed with one or several interviewers. The interviewers are strategically placed at the exits of the event to collect feedback as patrons leave. Respondents are selected through a random sequence (every 4th person) or selected through a simple convenience strategy (anyone who is asked and is willing can participate).
Nearly a decade ago, most exit surveys were completed via paper and clipboard. This methodology is still common in market research but through WiFi, tablets, and phones, it's made it much easier to collect this feedback electronically. A major benefit of collecting surveys via tablets is it avoids costs of data entry. Not only does the paper data entry cost more but it also extends the timeframe of the project.
By administering the survey through laptops, phones, and tablets, data can be available in real-time. Organizations are provided dashboards and login portals to view the feedback. With paper and clipboards, data entry can often take days or weeks. If you have a large project collecting thousands of cases of feedback, it could extend the timeframe of your exit survey project significantly.
Exit surveys are often called exit interviews, exit questionnaires, intercept surveys, and event surveys to name a few.
What is Most Important When Selecting an Exit Survey Firm?
More so than anything else make sure you work with an exit survey company who offers quality interviewers. Since organizations who employ an exit survey firm have to place a tremendous amount of trust in the team collecting the fieldwork, you have to trust each and every surveys was completed legitimately, credibly, and honestly.
Working with prior market research firms and companies who often employ interviewers with no prior survey experience or temporary workers to complete a job, trust cannot be underestimated when you select your exit survey firm. Make sure you find an exit survey company who offers quality interviewers with experience and a track-record for getting the job done.
Make sure you find an exit survey company with a quality team for your event. Low quality interviewers equals low quality and untrustworthy data.
What are the Benefits of an Exit Survey Over Other Options?
The obvious benefit of exit surveys over phone, mail, and email surveys is that the feedback is collected immediately. Data collected as attendees leave the event is far more accurate than asking that same person to remember the event 2 weeks later when they receive an email invite or telephone call asking about their experience.
Another benefit over email surveys and self-administered surveys is the person-to-person engagement. This is something you benefit from over the phone through two-way communication but the quality of data is even better when collected in-person. The exit survey team can build rapport quickly with a survey respondent, probe when necessary to dig deeper into responses, and ask, "Why?" These are all benefits that are not possible with an online or mail survey where there is no two-way communication.
How Does the Exit Survey Work?
Although market research methodologies differ, many of the market research processes work the same. Market research projects generally follow the same project flow. This starts with a kickoff and moves through set up, fieldwork, and finishes with analysis and reporting. Exit surveys are no different. Here is the 10-step process.
Step 1: Objectives and Scope of Work
The first step with any market research project is to discuss needs and objectives from the market research. During this process, the exit survey company should meet with your team to understand key aspects of your event, date(s), peak time(s), etc. They should also make an attempt to understand how you would like to use the results and what actions are being planned based on the data.
After this meeting, the market research firm will develop a full proposal for you. This proposal will lay out all of the details of your exit survey project. Your scope of work may be broken down into objectives, approach, timeline, fees, and a variety of other components. Many firms will include a signed agreement page, testimonials from other clients, and other supporting documentation. This is the contract that moves the project forward.
Step 2: Kickoff Meeting
The kickoff meeting officially launches the project. Typically, the exit survey firm will conduct this meeting in-person if they are local. If not, this can be conducted by telephone or video conference. An agenda is prepared prior to the meeting and sent by the market research project lead. The agenda ensures everyone is on the same page and the meeting maintains structure. These usually last 30 to 60 minutes.
In the kickoff you'll rehash objectives, talk about process, discuss timeline, and ultimately talk about the results you'll receive. The feedback and the discussion from the kickoff meeting drives the types and specifics of the questions in the survey document. It is the job of the exit survey company to listen to the needs of the client and translate those needs into questions to ask event attendees.
Step 3: Workplan
The next step in the process is to design a project workplan. The workplan highlights key tasks, dates, and responsible parties. The workplan is usually sent within 24 hours after the kickoff meeting ends and is the first deliverable. The workplan is exchanged throughout the project to keep everyone on track and aware of the project status. As an exit survey company, we exchange our workplans weekly with our clients.
A workplan develops structure for your exit survey project. It keeps everyone involved on-task and updated on the latest status with the timeline.
Step 4: Draft Survey
This is the core piece of the step-by-step exit survey project. Everything revolves around the survey. A good survey produces reliable results. A poor survey will leave the client wanting more or make the findings less conclusive. As we say, garbage in, garbage out.
It's important to note exit surveys need to remain short. They are called exit surveys for a reason. The goal is to grab an attendee, guest, or fan for a few minutes as they are leaving an event to collect feedback. The threshold we suggest employing is a maximum of 2 to 3 minutes and 10 to 15 questions. If you're exit survey extends beyond this length, you may struggle to gather enough feedback
Although there are endless options of questions to ask as part of your exit survey, we do recommend a few in particular: (1) Net promoter score or NPS. This assesses the likelihood to recommend your event to a friend or colleague. It can be benchmarked against other events and year-over-year to measure improvement at your event. (2) We always recommend some type of marketing or advertising awareness. "Where have you seen or heard advertising for the ABC Event in the past month?" Here you can either list off options as a multiple choice or ask this open-ended. This helps budget marketing efforts for the event next year.
Only 12% remember seeing our TV advertisement? It makes that $34,000 investment seem a little too expensive for the return.
Step 5: Programming and Testing
Once you have the survey finalized, the next step is to program it into your online survey software, assuming the fieldwork will be collected via tablet. If you are conducting the survey via paper and clipboard, some work will need to be done to convert the survey to make administration as easy as possible. Recently at our New York State Fair Exit Survey project, our team took a 10-page stapled survey packet being used in years past and converted it into a front and back 4-page booklet. This saved countless hours of flipping and folding 10-pages worth of a survey document.
Once the survey is programmed online, the exit survey company can share a link with the client for testing. This allows the client to preview the survey live, as if they were a true respondent at the event.
Step 6: Signage and Promotions
Every little bit helps. The more people that are aware of the exit survey, the better the response rate will be. If you are conducting exit surveys at a trade show, provide the survey team with a booth. Hang signs or place a poster board on an easel. Add a snippet in the program guide. Any type of signage and promotions to help encourage feedback is well worth it.
Incentive giveaways always help boost response rates as well. It is always good to feature this giveaway on the signage and promotions. This can range from gift card raffles, to free tickets, to trinkets and other small giveaways.
Using promotions for the exit survey helps advertise awareness for the market research.
Step 7: Fieldwork
Nowadays, this is most likely collected through tablet devices. A single interviewer or team of exit interviewers are stationed at the exits of the event. Typically you'll want your interviewers to rotate around the exits or focus on the exits with the most traffic. This will ensure you get the highest possible response rates to the survey.
Step 8: Live Data or Data Entry
One of the many benefits of exit surveys and using a credible exit survey company is the ability to view the data live as it comes in. Most exit survey firms will offer companies an online link with the ability to view data for their project in real-time. This is a passcode protected link.
Another benefit of having the project manager or survey team manager on-site is the ability to adjust on-the-fly. If in the first few hours you notice a significant amount of attendees selecting other and stating "Pandora" as a source of awareness, the project manager has the ability to edit the design of the survey and add it on-the-fly. Flexibility is key.
Step 9: Analysis
Once the fieldwork is completed, the next step is to clean the data. This involves reading open-ends and editing for spelling and grammar. Open-ended comments are also coded so they can be categorized and tallied. The analysis portion of the exit survey project gives the analyst the opportunity to dig into responses and identify themes.
Step 10: Reporting and Recommendations
The reporting and the recommendations are where the best exit survey companies can separate themselves from the pack. Any company can collect data and provide you Excel tables of tabulations. However, the consultant should work to interpret the data, analyze it, report on it, and make recommendations on action items and next steps.
The report is usually delivered in a PowerPoint or PDF and is an all-encompassing deliverable. It includes a background and methodology, themed executive summary, recommendations, infographics, and an appendix of question-by-question results. You'll also receive a CSV data file of all responses from your exit survey.
Questions About Drive Research?
Drive Research is an exit survey company located in Syracuse, NY. We specialize in exit surveys, event surveys, and intercept surveys to collect data from guests in-person and in-the-moment.
Questions about how Drive Research can help you?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 315-303-2040.