What do I least like to hear about – No-shows! When scheduled respondents don’t show up or call in or answer the phone at their appointed time.
I know what a downer no shows are. And don’t they inevitably happen on the first day of research, when the team is a bit nervous, and the client is paying full attention. And when the respondent isn’t there, the client casts doubt on the competence of the research agency. And just as bad, the first interview shows, but the next one or two don’t, so the team, having nothing better to do, proceeds to hyper analyze the first interview and start to make decisions on a sample size of one!
What can we do about no-shows? First, realize we are dealing with patients, or caregivers of patients. Life happens, they generally have a lot going on in their lives. More often than not, when we hear from a no-show, their disease has flared up, or they have chemo brain that day, or their child has had to be taken to the hospital. And some patients just don’t lead lives as organized as physicians or our clients!
Often respondents are able to alert us, but other times they don’t. Remember, their life has higher priorities than completing our interview! And we as a market research industry don’t help, we often ask to reschedule respondents at the last minute, which communicates to our respondents that we don’t value their time or them.
Rare Patient Voice uses various reminders to prevent as many no shows as possible. We send reminders by email, phone, and text. I think text is best – who doesn’t check their texts? We always try to communicate the importance of keeping the appointment.
Often the subject of honoraria comes up – will increasing the reward help? We pay patients at the rate of $100 per hour, which by all counts is generous and attractive. So, I don’t think the honoraria is the issue. And we don’t want to “train” respondents to play hard to get to increase honoraria!
So, let me know your thoughts and any other ideas of how to reduce no-shows? And please be sympathetic to the patients. Expect there to be a few no-shows along the way. And set those expectations with your clients. Please realize we hate it when it happens as much as you do.