We would perfer that all 'initial'contact is via your organisation and you decide which cases need the input of outr technicians. Basically you need to answer how, when, why and where and anything that you cannot handle gets passed on to our staff. In short, if it is a technical problem they send it to us, but all other queries should be handled by staff at your end so you maximise the ‘perceived value’ from the whole experience.

We have been operating the Private Portal for a number of years with many thousands of participants. It is a tested and proven tool! Occasionally we have an access problem often because the members have changed user names or forgotten passwords etc. but basically it works without drama. You will find the Private portal is very popular with your members simply because they find access to everything so convenient. If you monitor the Portal Activity Tool over time you will notice that many members go back on multiple occasions to access and/or view results of surveys. They often refer back to surveys they participated in years ago.

Believe me your once your members get the hang of it they will use the Private Portal regularly all hours of the day. It is viewed as being a very valuable tool offered by your organization. Don’t forget it will be branded with your logo so every time they visit the portal in the middle of the night (which is common) to review their results they see your brand!

Our contract is with your organization. This contract allows you to define opening dates, closing dates, buffer periods and results dates. Once these milestones are achieved the survey is deemed to be completed. However, if you specifically wish for a member to participate in a completed survey this can be arranged but it does involve additional costs above contracted price. These costs are not onerous but we do have to charge for time involved with individual processing of a late participant once we have done what we agreed upon.

Am I correct in saying you would need us to collect the information of the members that want to participate and to promote it to members (so let them know about it). Is there anything else that we would need to do on our end? 

Yes you are correct - you need to promote the survey, decide who you are offering the survey to and handle non-technical inquires etc. If you use our Fully Survey Management option then we can take it from there. If you prefer you can have more involvement but that is a choice for your organization.

The whole process is aimed at ensuring your organization gets full value from the initiative. Business Benchmarking provides the tools for you to achieve this.

Absolutely - yes. Your members get emails with portal access details (similar to pre-survey emails) routinely driving them to the My Report download area. Our system recognizes when a member has not accessed results and can be set to generate reminders when needed.

Our Portal Management Tools allow your organization access to:

  1. The Portal Activity Tool – that allows you to see who has participated, what day, what time, what other activity they did whilst in the portal (eg other documents downloaded etc). This is quite interesting to monitor!
  2. Participation versus Download report – where you can see of the participants who have downloaded their reports and who have not. It also provides emails of those that have not in case you wish to follow up.

if they haven't provided their information once we have invited them, or would we need to do that?

As part of our survey management options you can choose if you would prefer to chase up your members or we can do it all for you. We are wanting your organization to gain the value from the survey and much of this revolves around your sales staff using this as a tool to ‘value add’. On this basis, it is best if your organisation has a reasonable level of involvement in pursuing interested members. If this is not viable then let us email the reminders for you.

You must be aware that we can remind your members when they have not entered their information but it is not our job to sell the concept to them. Selling the concept to your members is critical for this to be a success and create value.

OK - once we have promoted the survey to our members and if we then hand management of the survey over to BS, how does it work?

This can be done by your orgabnisation or ours. Either way is fine. Our system integrates with emailing software so once you have provided us with a database of members whom you wish to target, we then send emails regularly as a reminder. These tend to be automated over a period with set times to deliver prior to survey closure date For example if a survey is 'Open' for say 3 weeks we may set reminders to 3 days to go, 7 days to go and 14 days to go. This is an optional feature. You can provide the text and set time periods according to your needs These emails will include a link to the Members Private Portal along with user names and passwords to make life easy. Effectively all they to do is click a button and "bingo" they are participating. The goal here is efficiency, flexibility and minimal administration work!

Our association would like to progress with a full benchmarking program over the next couple of years. We would however prefer to start with a ‘soft entry’ to get a feel for the whole process. Can you suggest a survey that would allow this approach but still be of value to our members?

I am not quite sure what industry you are in so if you let me know I could perhaps offer more suggestions. But in the mean-time the Industry Growth Survey is a templated benchmark survey that is very popular as an introduction. All businesses revel in seeing how their growth compares to their peers. In its simplest form, you can ask 4-5 basic questions on revenue over a period (could be years, quarters, months or whatever you choose) and the system calculates growth on the data entry sheet, produces a graph of performance and projects future revenue based on past growth. This displays at data entry time and is very impressive! The survey results at the end showing how each business compares to their peers tends to be ‘icing on the cake’ so to speak. This survey option is easy to implement, non-confronting, informative and generates a taste for more! If you email your contact details to sales@benchmarkingsolutions.net we can send more information.

You mention frequently in the literature about ‘branding’ the benchmarking surveys with our logos etc. For confidentiality reasons our clients would prefer to see the benchmarking to be effectively at arms-length even though we will be sponsoring it. Is this an option?

Absolutely yes!! Any survey operated with Level 1 security means no one other than the “Confidential User” (member nominated) has access to either the data entered or the final private report outcomes. Even so, if you felt it would be a better option from a perception point of view, we can set it up so that the survey is visually independent as well.

There is mention of critical dates with survey opening dates, closing dates, buffer periods(?) and results dates. I am not sure what all this means. Can you brief explain?

When benchmarking it is best to have clearly defined dates and periods set down in advance so members have clarity on expectations. Even so you need to cater for problems. It is sort of like having a university assignment due, everyone knows the due date but still seem to leave it until the last minute. Even with defined due dates some will ask for an extension. Benchmarking is similar. Make it clear when the survey opens so you can start promoting well in advance, when it closes so a mental time frame is created and when the results are expected. The only confusing part here is the ‘buffer period’ – this is like the assignment extension that we mentioned above. You advertise a closing date knowing full well that many of your members will participate at the last minute and a percentage will ask for an extension.  The easiest way is to factor in an extension period (buffer period) before you start so that it does not impact on the ‘expectation’ date for posting of results on the Private Portal. This way we keep everyone happy. We strongly advise that members are not advised of the ‘buffer period’ for obvious reasons.

This depends largely on the nature of the benchmarking survey that you are proposing.

If, for example,  you provide a regular survey with regular participants (for example tracking KPI’s every quarter with well-organized members) then ‘open’ periods could be quite brief say 1-2 weeks at the end of the quarter. If the group are highly organised you can choose for no buffer period at all. It means results can be posted almost immediately on closure.

If on the other hand you are performing a yearly survey (for example a Fees Survey or Wages and Salaries Survey) with a large number of participants who are perhaps not quite so well organized then you may choose to leave the survey open for longer. Let’s say, for convenience, opening on 1st of the month and remaining open for the entire month closing on 30th . This could be followed by a planned buffer period of say 7-10 days. For large surveys BBS does need time to check that data inputs were correct, questions were answered correctly, identify irregular data and generally have a cleanup. So, we always factor in time for these anomalies to be identified and corrected.

Discuss this with a Benchmarking Solutions staff member – we have done this so many times before that we know what to expect for any survey you propose!

There are three options here:

  1. You can enter the participant manually. Obviously not a great option due to the amount of manual work – but it is still an option.  We give you access to our database and someone enters the accounts manually. Really all we need is a business name, a contact person, a confidential email (you can enter all account details if you want, just trying to save everyone time). Our system will automatically generate account names, account access names (users email) and access passwords. With this we have enough information to email the client directing them to complete the My Account specifics.
  2. Importing member database – a much easier option - just provide us with csv file of all potential members with account details etc and we import to our system. Simple and easy!
  3. Link databases – this is an option if your organization is comfortable with the concept. Basically we link our Private Portal to your CRM system. If you plan to be a regular benchmark survey participant this is often the easiest option. It means that whenever member details on your system are updated they automatically update on our system too.

The answer to this is – probably! Reason being is that we don’t know what email delivery system you use. We are trying to expand our options here so if you use a mainstream email service chances are we will be able to link with it. Let’s communicate on this one!