Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Using My Voice

Okay, first of all, I have to respond to the comment Carrie left yesterday, about having my act together. . . the part I left out of the story, because I hadn't realized my mistake yet, was that I totally forgot that I was supposed to take Rebound to the groomer yesterday. I was so preoccupied with worrying about how voting would go and then so relieved it was fine, that the note on the calendar on the refrigerator (which I look at approximately 1,000,000,000 times a day) about taking Rebound completely failed to register. OOPS! Of course they are closed on Wednesdays, so I've had an entire day to stew about how I hate it when I mess up like this (rare, but it happens)* and worry about what will happen when I call tomorrow to beg for forgiveness and another appointment. Sigh.

Yesterday I used my voice when I exercised my right to vote. Today I was able to express my opinions again, but in a completely different manner.

Last week I got a phone call from an audience studies group asking a couple of questions about my television viewing habits and then inquiring whether I'd be willing to view a DVD and answer some follow-up questions. I've participated in product surveys before, but nothing quite like this.

My DVD and packet arrived on Monday. I was to fill out the paperwork and watch the DVD on Tuesday (Yes, I had to take a break from election coverage to do it, poor timing!), then answer questions over the phone today. There were two "prize packets" I was supposed to fill out, one before I watched the DVD and one afterward. In the packet there were groups of products - shampoos, soft drinks, laundry detergents, etc. - and I was supposed to indicate which brand I liked best. After filling out the first packet, I watched a horrible half hour sitcom, complete with an odd mix of very old and new commercials, answered five extremely general questions about the program, and then filled out the other prize packet, which was almost identical to the first. Gee, I wonder what they were really trying to find out?

Today I got a phone call and ended up spending nearly an hour answering highly repetative survey questions, which were 95% about the commercials I'd seen. The worst part of the survey was how the woman would ask me three or four questions in a row, about the same commercial, which were really the same question just worded slightly differently. I don't know how anyone can answer these questions without feeling like an idiot because I was saying the same exact thing over and over and over again.

How do companies actually learn anything from these surveys? Half the time none of the answer choices I was offered aligned well with what I thought, which left me prefacing every answer with , "I guess it would be. . . " How's that for convincing research?

For all I know, the survey had nothing to do with neither the television show, nor the commercials. I was probably participating in a study titled, "How Confused and Uncertain and Uncomfortable is it Possible To Make an Educated Person Feel Over the Phone?" They were probably using complicated audio equipment to measure stress levels in my voice. (Note to self: stop watching crime/investigative dramas on television).

This has been a rambling and rather pointless post - I wish I could to a better job of conveying to you just how bizarre the phone interview was. Oh well.

Have any of you ever done this sort of thing?


*Please don't miss understand. . . I mess up all the time, but I usually manage to keep my appointments.


bluedaisy said...

Thank you for saying this regarding your survey experience. I have never done one with quite as much involved as your recent experience BUT whenever I agree to do the survey, I end up feeling both frustrated and less intelligent by the end of the conversation. Having studied research/stats in college, I can't imagine how the repetitive questioning OR choosing from options that don't fit your view translate into good research... Imagine being the person who has to ASK those questions ALL day!

Swistle said...

For a number of years (5?) I did an annual survey that claimed to be measuring women's feelings about media (internet, news shows, books, magazines). I always felt, though, like they were after something else, and it made me skittish! Also, I could never answer their questions and it made me crazy-anxious. How many minutes a week do I spend in face-to-face conversation with family members? GEEZ, WHO KNOWS??

CARRIE said...

Well that burst my bubble (and at the same time made me feel so much better at my motherly foibles)! ;)

I've done surveys like this too. I wonder if they ask the same questions in different ways to catch people giving different answers. Of course, I don't know what they can surmise from this.

Pam said...

I did one of those a few years ago and it left me feeling stupid, like I hadn't understood the questions. There must be some goal only they know about!