What’s the key issue of Panel Management?

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This article is part of our blog series on panel management. In this blog series, we’ll present the work of our panel managers and share their daily challenges and considerations with you. Please have a look here to get an overview over all topics covered by this series.

The overall goal of every online panel is representativeness, or, in other words, that any conclusion from research within this panel is also true for the corresponding population. Apparently, this is exactly what panels are made for, but it also pretty much defines the way panel managers usually work.

As the panel should be representative, panel managers constantly have to assess who our members are and compare their profiles to the official statistics. Is our panel still representative for the general population, or do we have a lack of certain demographics? Once they’ve found an answer to these questions, they have to target and recruit the right people from the general population to fill up the gaps before assessing the panel composition again.

Actually, panel management is inherently an iterative process. It’s really hard to follow solid plans for the distant future without taking iterative loops in the present. Actually, you always have to focus on the present challenges in your community and take it from there. For example, if many panel members have a shared complaint, it’s better to solve their issue right away than putting it somewhere on the bottom of a long list with development requirements. You should not recruit to a panel that quickly puts off its members, but always focus on the overall satisfaction of your panelists. Therefore, the work of our panel managers has to be respondent centric.

To sum this up, there is a inherent proximity between panel management and the agile, customer centric paradigm. We don’t want to stretch the comparison, but you can see right away why quality in panel management is rather a journey than a destination. You have to learn from past experiences and strive to become better every day. And we’re happy and proud that we have about twenty years of experience with recruiting and managing online panels.