Despite official government guidelines across the UK officially ending social distancing and the wearing of face masks within cultural venues. Our ongoing research has found that many audience groups can be uncomfortable with returning to the pre-pandemic normal. Our guidance in this article could be useful considerations within the time of COVID-19 to structure and implement your survey data collection.
With social distancing and ongoing health and safety still a core attendance factor for many audience groups, TAA strongly recommends that, where possible, organisations collect their survey data via an e-survey. Organisations that have traditionally collected data using face-to-face paper or tablet surveys, such as museums or galleries, should consider switching to an e-survey method, particularly where audience email addresses are being collected as part of new pre-booking procedures, including where applicable for NHS Test and Trace purposes.
If an organisation is collecting email addresses and wish to contact those audiences post-visit, whether that’s for marketing, research or for NHS Test and Trace purposes, individuals must be informed and given the opportunity to consent for the collection their data for the stated purpose, in order to comply with Data Protection good practice.
Organisations also need to observe all the other obligations under the regulations to enable them to legitimately collect and process those customers’ personal information, such as obtaining specific permissions for data to be collected (i.e. name/address/email address/telephone number) and the intended communications channels (email/SMS/post/etc.)
Practically, in terms of how an organisation wishes to articulate the intention to send customers invitations to undertake a survey in their notification statements when seeking consent, it is up to the organisation themselves how it is phrased, but purposes and means of contact have to be specific and clearly outlined. TAA recommends that the clearest way of presenting this is as separate tick box options so the data subject had the option to consent to one but not the other. For example:
We would like to retain your details so that we can contact you for:
- NHS Test and Trace purposes to assist the NHS with requests for data in the event of a local COVID-19 outbreak y/n (please note your details will be deleted after 21 days)
- Marketing purposes, i.e. to keep you up to date about upcoming events - y/n
- To send you a survey about your experience today - y/n
- etc. other purposes, e.g. fundraising - y/n
Please let us know how you would like to be contacted:
- email - y/n
- SMS - y/n
- phone - y/n
- etc. - y/n
Alternatively, if email addresses are not available, TAA would recommend keeping in-person interactions and object handling to a minimum by allowing audiences to complete an on-site e-survey on their own smartphone devices, i.e. via a shortened web address or QR code linked survey. Signs, posters and leaflets, such as the example below, which inform audiences how to access a survey, can be displayed or handed out in areas with high footfall, or spaces with captive audiences. To ensure a higher level of response, staff and volunteers can facilitate this methodology by explaining the research and how to access the survey, whilst still observing social distancing and keeping interaction to a minimum.
There are many websites available to convert survey links to a QR code for free, such as this one from Snap Surveys. It is also recommended that a shortened web address is used, rather than the 57 character one supplied by TAA. There are many websites that provide this service for free, such as Bitly.
To request this method, please select On-site E-survey from our list of methodology choices in our Audience Finder survey set up request form to ensure that the survey is worded in the correct format i.e. in present rather than past tense.
Face-to-face data collection is now again possible under government guidelines, but it is best suited to a brief interaction taking into account many visitors may still wish to observe social distancing for a number of personal and health reasons. If an organisation does choose to continue using this method it is recommended that the survey is kept very short and only includes the core questions. Data collection from visitors queuing presents an opportunity to approach a ‘captive’ audience but is not recommended for a number of reasons, such as respondent privacy when answering sensitive questions, the respondent not yet having engaged with your offer (if queuing for entry), and the potential impact on participants and interviewers verbal communication in a busy area.
Before any face to face data collection activities are undertaken, it is recommended that the following measures are put in place:
- Make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available to staff, such as face covers and gloves, as well as hand sanitiser for personal use and for cleaning data collection tools e.g. tablets
- Staff/Volunteers must be trained on how to undertake fieldwork in post-lockdown conditions, including training on:
- Safe working requirements and use of PPE
- When and where to safely conduct data collection and circumstances to avoid
- Appropriate handling, cleaning and transfer of data collection tools e.g. tablets, showcards, stimulus materials
- Responding appropriately to any participant concerns about undertaking face to face data collection during post-lockdown
- Determining the location of data collection and ensuring safe distancing floor markings are clearly visible to interviewer and interviewee. It is important to think about background noise and the impact of face coverings on audibility.
- Means of self-completion are available for respondents that would like to fill out a questionnaire but feel uncomfortable with the process being interviewer led. Such as QR code linked surveys or printed questionnaires. See on-site survey (self-completion survey through own device) section above for more information.
TAA has provided the advice in this document to aid data collection planning and decision making, but it is important that organisations consider the latest government legislation, organisational and staff safety policies and wider data collection documentation, such as the comprehensive Market Research Societies Post-Covid-19 Lockdown Guidance, to ensure data collection is carried out safely and effectively.