Neil Marcus, AVP and research leader at MetLife, was instrumental in the GRBN’s Participant Engagement Initiative. His support as a corporate partner for the research on which some of these best practices are based was invaluable. Dave Rothstein, CEO at RTi Research, a Gold Sponsor on the Participant Engagement Initiative, talked with Neil about the initiative and its impact. DR: You and MetLife have been tremendous supporters of the Participant Engagement Initiative. Why is the initiative so important to you and your organization? NM: The initiative is important in so many ways and to so many constituents. First, from an industry perspective, we are concerned about sustainability, specifically in the face of declining survey response rates, and thus risks to sample integrity. Next, we are concerned about the quality of the responses we receive when surveys are lengthy or focused on topics that are less engaging and of interest to people (e.g., insurance). And finally, from a brand perspective, for identified surveys, we recognize that a survey is yet another touchpoint which reflects on our image/reputation. In these cases, we need to make sure the survey experience leaves participants with a positive impression of MetLife.  DR: Obviously, there are a lot of great engagement tips included in the handbook and you got to see them first-hand through your participation in the research on research. Which do you feel particularly excited about using in your research and why? NM: I believe there is an opportunity for us to implement all of the recommendations. In general, using more plain speak, conversational language is one best practice that especially resonates with me. On identified surveys, I’m also particularly excited about improving participant engagement by using video (or other means) to provide our participants with more detail on the purpose of the study and how the findings will be used. DR: What obstacles do you see in putting these tips into practice for improved participant engagement? How might they be overcome? NM: I expect some of our business partners may be somewhat uncomfortable with departing from the traditional survey practices. I’m glad we have this “research on research” through our partnership with GRBN to help assuage those concerns and really prove the criticality of employing techniques to improve participant engagement. Overall, given our focus on insight-driven strategies and optimizing the customer experience, I am confident most will embrace these new approaches – especially given the relationship between survey experience and brand perception on identified surveys. Neil_Marcus Neil Marcus Metlife           Dave_RothsteinDave Rothstein RTi Research