Asking pertinent questions

Once quotations have been obtained from two or three companies, the next stage in evaluating their ability to do work to the standards required is to visit their premises and ask pertinent questions. These are the kinds of question that will be seen as pertinent and discriminating, and therefore approved of, by the good-quality research agency, and will be seen as discriminating, and therefore impertinent and disapproved of, by the poor-quality research agency. At least that is their objective.

The kinds of questions to ask in order to assess the quality of an agency's fieldwork procedures relate to the structure and organization of its field force. For example:

■ 'How many interviewers have you?'

■ 'How many supervisors are there?'

■ 'Do the supervisors work exclusively for this agency?'

■ 'What is the agency's supervisory structure, i.e. how many supervisors and how many interviewers per supervisor?'

■ 'How are interviewers selected?'

■ 'How are interviewers trained?'

■ 'On average, how long do interviewers stay with your organization?'

■ 'How many interviewers work exclusively for your agency?'

■ 'What quality-control procedures are used?'_

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