Editor's note: Ted Pulsifer is executive vice president of research firm Schlesinger Group.

Respondent opinions and experiences are the drivers of strategic business decisions. Some suppliers, more than others, have invested in strategies that support the recognized need for a wide and diverse pool of research participants who trust the process and are engaged. Winning respondent trust is not easy; consumers are learning the value of their data and hold companies that deal in their privacy accountable. Panelists are entitled to know what will become of their personal data. Greater transparency between sample providers and participants has become a vital part of the equation. 

The respondent experience also remains a principal focus for our industry. The most successful providers have been relentlessly pursuing innovative ways to shorten surveys and improve engagement to ensure respondents trust and enjoy the panel membership and the survey process. This includes guiding survey designers towards doing their part to create positive survey experiences that will drive trust with consumers.

Technology has spawned numerous segments among the general population based on how they want to engage with surveys. New solutions have allowed for more personalized experiences for a wide variety of respondents. It is a two-way street – both research companies and panel owners are adapting to the use of automation and machine intelligence to attract, manage and retain respondents. Sample providers are upgrading their portals to ensure a seamless experience across devices (smartphones, tablets, desktops). It doesn’t end there. Everything from matching respondents with the most suitable surveys to incentive management is becoming automated. Leveraging technology for human-centric interaction and engagement will deliver an augmented respondent experience.

The online sampling industry has made major strides in rece...