April 2018, and trade journals and online portals of the market research industry repeatedly tackle the issue of quality in market research. The discussion is driven by publications in the Spiegel. Under the headline “Market Research Dossier”, the entire market research industry is questioned on the truthfulness and quality of its survey data, based on the self-disclosure of a professional counterfeiter. There are several statements from the associations, and a few market researchers have their say in the forums or in interviews.
In this period of uncertainty, it became clear to us that as a company we must take responsibility to make it clear to our customers and the market, that we are one of those institutes where adherence to high quality standards is part of the company’s DNA and not just a buzzword in the company brochure.
The statement “We must make IWD quality more transparent to our customers” was quickly followed by the questions: How high is our quality? How is it developing? Are we getting better or are there processes and services where our quality stalls or even starts to drop? The question was how to make something transparent to the public if the measures are clear to you, but the result of your commitment to quality is not clear.
At that time, nobody in the company was thinking about ISO certification. Rather, we were considering how we could combine all our quality assurance measures into a systematic, constantly forward-thinking quality management system, and which measuring instruments and characteristic values had to be developed in order to be able to provide constant tracking of the quality level.
Working groups were formed, books read, seminars attended. Once again, during presentations and meetings, the questions persisted: “What procedures are there?” and “How do we have to change our thinking and acting?
The changes we made:
- Naturally, for many years we have had firmly integrated a comprehensive and professional set of quality assurance measures into the processes. Manuals, work instructions and staff training ensured that the instruments were implemented correctly. What is new, however, is that we consistently record all errors and faults in processes and services. This enables us to make quality developments measurable over a longer period.
- By consistently recording internal and external errors, we are in a better position to evaluate our quality assurance instruments in terms of their efficiency and to continuously improve the measures taken.
- Quality-related parameters were introduced, which now enable us to make transparent evaluations of our quality at any time. In this way, we can always see where we are improving, where we are stalling, and which processes primarily need to be optimised.
- Based on our own quality transparency, we are now able for the first time to define quality targets, on which we make binding agreements with all employees and towards which all those involved in the process are working with full commitment.
- All these measures around the new professionalised quality management now give us the opportunity to achieve the original goal of a significantly improved quality transparency towards our customers.
Of approximately 120 German market and opinion research institutes, only very few are certified, an estimated 8-10% of the companies. In the end we decided to go for the ISO certification, as we realised throughout this entire development process how effective and efficiency-promoting professional quality management is for a modern and agile company organisation.
On 12/06/2019, the IWD was successfully certified according to ISO 20252 and, with the award of the certificate by the German Institute for Quality and Certification DIQZ, it bears the seal of approval for market, opinion and social research.