Annie Wang, IQS Research’s Intern

Date: June 26, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on Annie Wang, IQS Research’s Intern

You don’t hear this everyday in Louisville, but our standards at IQS Research are very high. That is why this is the 7th year we’ve participated in a program to bring Yale undergraduate students to Louisville for summer internships.

Annie Wang is a rising senior majoring in the History of Science, History of Medicine, and she’s bringing her skills and inquisitiveness to Louisville this summer. She’s part of Bulldogs In The Bluegrass a 10-week internship program, which matches Yale students with Louisville companies. And we’re proud to have her as our research analyst intern.

In her stay with us, Annie is getting exposure to all facets of research encompassing everything from data collection to analysis to reporting and client meetings to sales meetings to internal meetings to company breakfasts. In the last few weeks, Annie has worked on several IQS Research projects dealing with college education and the reasons some students don’t succeed, membership engagement trying to understand the relationship between satisfaction and membership churn as well as a market opinion study understanding the neighborhood specific weaknesses in the restaurant and food offerings in Louisville. And in two weeks, she’ll begin working on a research project gathering wages and benefits data across the state of Kentucky.

Previously, Annie has worked in various medical and hospital settings, conducting research on antimetabolite drugs used in the implantation of glaucoma drainage devices.

Upon graduation, she wants to work in health policy and management, and hopes to do research on developing policies that help reduce socioeconomic disparities in children’s health.

Annie comes to us through Connecticut by way of Santa Monica, California. In her spare time, Annie enjoys playing violin, and has been involved with chamber music at Yale during her college career. She also enjoys horseback riding, cooking, and traveling.


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The Role IQS Research Played in Louisville’s 55,000 Degrees Program

Date: June 7, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on The Role IQS Research Played in Louisville’s 55,000 Degrees Program

Assumption…we all know the old saying about that. And as experts in our respective businesses fields, we often think we know why people behave the way they do. But as professional research unfolds and brings the hidden facts to the light of day, more often that not, people find that their assumptions are incorrect or at least skewed.

Louisville Skyline

Recently IQS Research worked with the 55,000 Degrees initiative in Louisville to find out why people who had the capability to achieve a college degree ended up not attending or completing college.

The goal of this program was to increase the number of degree holding individuals in the Louisville area by 55,000, its primary challenge to discover why people don’t place a higher value on having a degree. One previously-held assumption was that people just don’t realize how important going to college is and that all that was needed was targeting marketing that stresses the financial benefit to obtaining a degree. That is, everyone thought they knew what the problem was, and leaped to a solution.

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Overcoming Psychogeographic Barriers: A Downtown Success Story

Date: April 19, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on Overcoming Psychogeographic Barriers: A Downtown Success Story

Suburbs of New Orleans, LA. View from over Ken...

First, a working definition: psychogeographic barriers are mental or emotional obstacles that keep people from entering a given area for business. As a market research company,we look at these factors for many companies.

It might be a busy street or a perception of an area not being “my area” of town, or even as simple as your boss’ office threshold. The key ingredient here is that there’s nothing physical keeping people from coming to your business, not a wall or a barricade, but only thought barriers, which often can be more powerful than real walls.

The initial thing to do when you are suspicious that your business might be a victim of a psychogeographic barrier is to seek out the help of a professional research company to identify what hose barriers are and why they exist. The presence and location of a barrier are usually easy to identify but accurately identifying the cause can be much more elusive.

By understanding the causes of the barrier it is easier to enact the changes necessary, obliterate those mental barriers and get more traffic to your business.

We helped a doctor’s office break through their a psychogeographic barrier surrounding their practice. Their office sat just on the edge of what was considered the suburb area adjacent to downtown. The pediatrician’s office had no problem attracting parents from the suburban area, but it was as if their sphere of influence was shaped more like half a pie. They weren’t getting patients from the downtown area because of “territorial” psychogeographic issues.

Downtown people do things downtown; suburbanites conduct business in the suburbs, but in this case the doctor’s office was on the border and could really serve both and could even be a bridge between the two worlds. The key was reach out to the people in the city and engage with them around the benefits of this office.

In this case the office was able to simply sent out some mailings targeted to this geographic area telling the recipients how easy it was to get there, how functional and cost effective the parking was compared to dealing with meters and parking garages, and how much they really wanted their business.

In the end, they saw an increase in the size of the pie and, with little investment, overcame the psychogeographic barrier that seemed insurmountable. All it took was accurately identifying and tackling that barrier and then implementing sometimes very simple fixes, and the “walls” come tumbling down.

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What’s So Hard About Doing Correct Research?

Date: April 17, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on What’s So Hard About Doing Correct Research?

How many people really know what “correct research” is? Could you define it? Unless you were a stats major or have worked professionally in the research field, the answer to this is probably no.

We often think we know how to do something we’ve read about, or “intuitively” know what it is. But the reality is that laypeople really don’t know how precise and detailed effective, results-based research actually is. There are innumerable details and turns of phrase involved in the wording, ordering, and layering of questions, and every piece matters. There’s nothing that doesn’t factor in, and if the formula isn’t built correctly, the “results” can be anything from skewed to reflecting the wrong information to just being completely useless. Or worse, seemingly correct, you make decisions based on it and have negative consequences to your business.


The way you phrase questions is very important. Something as simple as the word “and” can render a potentially effective survey question worse than useless. If it’s included in a research question, you can almost always be assured that it is a bad question.

The goal of market research is to get precise, focused answers to specific, directed questions. One of the keys of research is measuring a precisely defined, single entity. And the way you measure it is essential.

Let’s say you want to find out how customers’ experience was at your restaurant. If you ask, “How was your experience today?” But is that what you really want to know? Will that really give you actionable information?

Or are you really interested to learn such factors as; their likelihood to return, their likelihood to recommend the restaurant to others, or their perception of value, their perception of you compared to your competitors, and so on and on?

Here’s an example of junk question that arrived on a survey we received recently.

Please tell us about your experience having your car at our service department this morning. (scale of 1-5). Are these things important to you?

While this question may look okay, there are several fundamental flaws that will ensure the information generated will be misleading and inconclusive. Such problems as What are they measuring? What are the scale definitions? What is 1 supposed to mean? Why are they asking for comments and providing a scale in the same question? In this one question they ask for importance, an assessment and a comment which should be at least three questions. In the end this question will provide answers and I am sure the service department will try diligently to use that information. But the results will lack context and in the end, will become an exercise in reading comments. Not a bad idea, but clearly not an effective customer feedback program.

In the end, you have to decide the ultimate purpose of your customer feedback. If you want to general comments then overall opinions, then go it alone. Otherwise, turn to a professional, sit back, and enjoy the information that comes rolling in, because you can count on it.

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How Research Helped One Hotel Reduce Employee Turnover by 30%

Date: April 12, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on How Research Helped One Hotel Reduce Employee Turnover by 30%

Attrition…it’s a boondoggle for companies. Employee turnover costs the company through wasted recruiting, training, relocation, and so on. Employee feedback is important to uncovering the causes of the turnover.

Finding and keeping the right people is key, everyone knows that. The question is, what makes an employee want to stay, or more to the point, want to leave?

That’s what IQS sorted out for a resort hotel recently and in the process helped them see an impressive turnaround. The hotel knew they were having a problem with employee turnover, but what they couldn’t figure out was why people were leaving.


In the hotel’s case, they were seeing employees leave at six to twelve months and this was causing a serious financial drain. However exit interviews and HR asking questions did not afford the company any insight because exiting employees have little to no motivation to be honest or vocal about their experience; they’re on their way out, and they either don’t care or don’t want to burn a bridge by saying something negative. This is where IQS came in and pulled out that honest employee feedback.

In terms of general employee psychology, there is an inflection point where employee turnover takes a jump. It’s the point at which employees decide the company is a good fit, and their acclimation to the company, department, and working environment begins to accelerate, which brings engagement and satisfaction. Or they decide that the company is not a good fit, acclimation stops in its tracks, and they begin to look for other employment.

After IQS completed their research they learned that when employees were first hired, there was a tremendous amount of attention given to each new hire. They were trained, given one-on-one time, and were showered with team building good vibrations, complete with Polo shirt and coffee mug. This lasted about a week, and then the sole focus transitioned to “do you know how to do your job” and measuring their success.As a result, the employees felt lost in their environment and in some cases even misled about what they should expect.

There is much more to employment than the mechanics of the job itself, and at the hotel, little to no attention after that first week was spent on making sure new employees were fitting in, or acclimating, to the work environment, their coworkers, and the culture of the company. But after the light was shone on this elusive fact, the hotel was able to make some simple changes to continue the onboarding process beyond the first week. By extending the time over which the training was offered, the transition into the working environment became more gradual and the employee felt a deeper connection with the hotel. As a result, their first year attrition dropped by 30%.

In the end, you can only change people’s behavior when you thoroughly understand the reason behind their patterns of thinking. And the best way to understand how people think is through research.

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