Guest Blog: Tom Groenfeldt on Survey fatigue

As a fintech writer contributing to Forbes, I get pitched a lot of surveys, probably a few a week. Most I discard immediately, the exception being when I have a personal connection with the PR who is pitching to me and/or the underlying story piques my interest. In those cases though, you could say the survey was successful as it did get me to interview the surveying company and write an article, but this is mostly luck and personal connections.


The trouble is, that so many of the surveys I receive have a good story, but the research itself is pretty poor. Too often companies make the mistake of asking shallow questions of a small survey group, that isn’t really representative of the market.


Take one survey I received recently for example. It surveyed 80 bank operations leaders in North America. “74% of the bank operations leaders surveyed said that improving the customer experience is currently their top strategic priority” it said. Really? Excuse my skepticism, but what does that mean? Even before I had three transfers and a cutoff on a recent call with Chase customer service I was a little skeptical.


Also, “although wrapping legacy with a real-time customer interface calls for robotic process automation (RPA) only16% use RPA now”. That’s great, but what accounts for this complacency? Complex legacy, lack of investment, conflicting priorities, lack of strategic vision from leadership and volatility within the organization are all mentioned. None of these statistics tells me where a bank is going. And THAT is what I want to hear.


My final example from this survey was the realization that although this was about North American operations, the banks cited are DBS, Singapore; Barclays, UK; ING, Europe and HDFC, India.


For you marketers out there, the good news is that making a survey a whole lot better isn’t all that difficult – move beyond numbers to get specific, interview a few people who participated to provide some depth and see if they will talk to a reporter, tell some stories about where banks are going and what their challenges are and, if your survey is about banks in North America don’t limit your citations to Europe and Asia.


Remember that tech reporters are heavily outnumbered by PR people. I probably get 75 to 125 email pitches a day, and I have been pretty ruthless in consigning boring inquiries and PR agencies which don’t pay attention to my narrow areas of coverage to my junk file.


So if you want to get through, tell a good story, have some friendly sources (ex-bankers have an advantage here) who will talk and provide specific examples, and don’t send me numbers that don’t either tell me something new, or lead into a bigger story. I am much more likely to take up a pitch I can make interesting in half a day, than one which even three days later will be vague and full of percentages with no actual examples.

About Tom Groenfeldt

Tom Groenfeldt is a highly respected freelance writer based in the U.S. He writes about finance and technology for publications including, International Finance Magazine and his own blog, In 2015 The Financial Brand named Tom one of the top 25 global influencers in financial services. And he was named by Jay Palter as one of the 250 Fintech influencers you should be following in 2016, and by CDW FinTalk as a top blog.