While we consider ourselves industry leaders, it is with great pride that we “follow” the best practices recommended by respected industry associations. This includes, but is not limited to, guidelines related to:
- Ethical Recruiting Practices
- Respondent Privacy
- Professional Qualitative Research Practices
- Database Management
Additionally, key members of our staff have worked on many association committees. Why? Because we love our profession! We believe in being a part of the solution and that our choice is simple: take action to improve our industry, or lose our right to whine about it! Not that we’re conspiracy theorists, but we do believe that danger lurks around many corners. The job of all researchers is to be active participants in keeping the marketing research profession safe, and we are happy to raise our hands as volunteers.
Company Departments/Personnel Structure
Project and Key Account Management
Clients receive a dedicated project director for every project, and key accounts often have an assigned project director (who is always their primary point of contact). Each and every one of our project directors has extensive knowledge in the qualitative research field, including hands-on recruiting experience.
Our Project Directing Department is a team of the most highly motivated and creative professionals, with whom we believe you’ll ever have the pleasure of effectively collaborating. They are not here simply to send daily updates or to provide “progress reports”. They actually like their clients! Yes, they believe in building relationships, and yes, we realize this is not a novel idea. While we may shy away from overused buzz words/phrases (like “partnership,” “customer service oriented," etc.), we are not in the slightest bit bashful about declaring our experience with positive results. For us, being customer-focused means a couple of very important things:
- Spending the majority of our day making our client’s lives easier (after all, you are some of the most important people in our lives);
- Putting our brains to work (insert overused buzz phrase “thinking outside the box” here);
- Using a little bit of the “crazy” we all have inside us (we’re not afraid to say it takes passionate people to devote their lives to marketing research);
- Caring about the clients we have (instead of focusing on the ones we don’t).
And, just in case you’re wondering, each project is given the proper attention not only by your project manager, but by all departments at Advanced Focus (including daily involvement of/by the executive staff who participates in a daily production meeting with the project directors, Database Department and Quality Control Department).
As much as we like to have fun, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give you some important (if not exciting) information. For example, our recruiting department has 45 stations! (Does the exclamation mark give it more oomph?)
Each recruiter goes through the Advanced Focus training program and is trained in consumer, medical and B2B recruiting. Our recruiting supervisors work directly with the recruiters each day, evening, and weekend. This means that as long as the lights are on, you can reach a member of the staff at Advanced Focus: someone who has knowledge about your study and who can assist with emergencies. We realize, of course, that unexpected hiccups never happen with your project, but we’d rather be safe than sorry.
The most important element of having full-time day and evening managers oversee the Recruiting Department is the opportunity it provides for constant training. We’re never lackadaisical with our approach to recruiting and believe that even the most seasoned recruiter can be coached on how to be better and/or how to incorporate new data collection techniques with more traditional methods.
One of our founding beliefs is that by elevating the significance of the recruiter’s role (making it a truly professional position within Advanced Focus), we are able to provide more innovative recruiting than the Average Joe. Now, we are not here to judge Average Joe, who does not necessarily encourage such an environment of education and partnership with his recruiters. We only know that by training our recruiter’s about the marketing research industry, ethical recruiting, best practices and guidelines, and how to conduct proper research, we are able to produce an enhanced product.
Our database team works closely with all other departments to guarantee that the appropriate lists are gathered for each individual study. This group not only has access to (and manages) our robust internal database, but also utilizes a wide variety of alternative resources in order to reach a greater segment of the market: folks who are not savvy to the marketing research world. Therefore, our database is chalk-full of mechanisms to track respondent attendance, flag those pesky cheaters/repeaters, update respondent information, etc.
The database personnel is constantly growing and managing our network of consumers, business, and medical professionals to give Advanced Focus the highest quality and widest pool of potential respondents.
Our recruiters are not spoiled and understand that not all projects can be recruited from our internal database. We recruit a percentage of almost all consumer studies via “cold calling," which promotes fresh respondents and continued database development. We also have a research department that locates and builds relationships with all of the “Groups” on social and professional network sites. When appropriate, we have found these groups to be a wonderful source of fresh B2B respondents (as well as other specific hard-to-reach audiences). Yes, this is another example of us putting our brains to good use.
Our Validation/Quality Control Department includes several dedicated members of our staff. Their full-time responsibilities include the re-screening of every respondent and daily monitoring of all recruiters.
In a Nutshell
Many of the ethical recruiting and quality control practices that Advanced Focus utilizes are based on the sound standards and guidelines recommended by all of the prominent associations, with specific processes and policies that go above and beyond. Another of our core philosophies is that one bad apple really can spoil the bunch. The responsibility of all data collectors is to uphold high standards that promote the legitimacy of the profession as a whole. Unethical recruiting hurts a company or an end-user and severely damages our industry. We believe that one of the most effective ways to combat unethical recruiting is to hire the right people from the ground up and, more importantly, to obtain buy-in from all team members (beginning with the job interview). Employees certainly need to understand the company mission, but the same is true of potential team members. If someone doesn’t share the same value system or have a passion for our mission, he/she should not (and do not) join our team—we are not looking for seat-fillers. A significant part of our interviewing and training process is focused on the INDUSTRY, the important role we play, the active role our company takes in protecting and promoting the profession, how unethical recruiting practices undermine that effort, and what the ramifications are when proper processes are not adhered to. We simply believe that when team members take pride in what they do, who they work for, and the industry that they serve, it adds legitimacy to the entire research process. Of course, this results in a higher quality output than the abovementioned Average Joe.