Top 10 tips for conducting a postal survey

I’ve spent the last year organising a postal survey of GP patients. Having overseen the mail-out of nearly 15,000 questionnaires, I thought I would offer a few thoughts on how to get through a big survey with both yourself and the data intact…

  1. Learn how to mail merge between Word and Excel.
    • To create your ID labels – this will look much more professional and will be faster than handwriting.
  2. Get help stuffing envelopes if possible
    • Avoid developing Repetitive Strain Injury! Otherwise, at least take regular breaks.
  3. If using unique ID numbers, label the outside of the envelope AND the questionnaire.
    • This speeds up the process of identifying any participants to exclude.
  4. Remember to buy the correct sized stamps for your envelopes
    • I guarantee you will only make this mistake once!
  5. Do as much preparation in advance of the mail out as possible
    • Whilst you have time.
  6. Buy a date stamp!
    • It’s much easier than writing the date by hand.
  7. Use VLOOKUP formulae in excel to help you log your questionnaire returns
    • This reduces typing errors and avoids the, “trying to find a needle in a haystack” scenario at a later date.
  8. Record questionnaires as being returned even if they are incomplete
    • You don’t want to send reminders to these people – you can always leave notes to yourself to say they are blank.
  9. Allow a minimum of 3 weeks between reminders
    • Give people a chance to respond!
  10. Consistency is key
    • But common sense makes an excellent key fob.
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