The Limitations of Surveying
- What is it you’re survey is focusing on? Is it just quick feedback about a process or service you want, e.g.: bars or catering, or are you trying to understand how fans feel about something more integral, e.g.: whether the club’s communication with them is effective?
- Could you collaborate with your supporters’ trust/independent supporters’ group to ensure the most appropriate questions are asked (like the SD Scotland/SFS/SPFL annual survey)?
- Understand the limits of surveying, and always look for opportunities to drill down into responses more deeply, e.g.: by hosting a focus group or fans forum to look at the themes that might have emerged from the survey
- Thinking about the catering options at The Stadium (the Main Bar, Main Stand Catering, East Stand Catering and South Stand Catering only), are there any specific food or drink options that you would like sold in future?
So what should your choice be as a club? Whether you choose open, closed or a mixture of both, a good example of how to use surveying as part of a process of Fan Engagement is seen with Bristol Rovers.
Rovers survey to inform and shape their services and more general Fan Engagement work, covering many aspects of the club. The actual survey is sent twice annually, first after the end of the season, reviewing performance, then followed up in January to assess how the various areas have progressed, with the feedback actioned.
Both surveys have an option for supporters to register for a follow-up forum, with those interested given first refusal and then it open to all supporters who would like to attend. This acts as a way of sifting the issues (through the actual surveying), and provides a way of drilling down into more detail with forums. Forums as part of an overall process add an excellent way of confidence building, showing fans that you’re not just hearing what they say, but being prepared to listen and change – the very essence of two-way dialogue.
Know your limits
However, it is important to understand that on its own, surveying has its limits. Listening to fans through structured dialogue, ad-hoc conversations by walking the stadium, or by conversing online, add more colour, and enable more immediate feedback and problem solving.