Chamber of Commerce gets quick response to its digital survey

GILROY
– In true Silicon Valley style, the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce’s
annual membership survey has left the realms of paper and telephone
and has gone digital.
GILROY – In true Silicon Valley style, the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce’s annual membership survey has left the realms of paper and telephone and has gone digital.

Roughly 450 of the chamber’s 700 members were sent digital surveys Monday via e-mail. By Monday afternoon, more than 50 had already responded to the 15-item questionnaire that gauges the business community’s opinion on how their needs are being served.

“We expect to get responses from about 200 members,” Executive Director Susan Valenta said. “When we did it the old-fashioned way we only heard back from 8 to 10 percent of our members. And in marketing circles that is considered pretty good.”

The deadline for chamber members to respond to the survey is Jan. 16.

Results from the survey will be reviewed by the chamber’s board of directors during a retreat at the end of January. Directors use the responses when making decisions about which chamber programs and services should be continued or expanded over the next year.

Valenta said both the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation and the Gilroy Visitors Bureau, which function independently of the chamber, were created based on needs identified in past surveys.

While the high tech surveying method figures to garner the opinions of less than 30 percent of chamber membership, the 200 anticipated responses does account for 44 percent of the membership that has e-mail addresses on file with the chamber.

“I think we’ll get a larger cross-section of our membership than we had before,” Valenta said.

The survey asks respondents to give selective and open-ended answers. In some questions, members are asked to rate the chamber’s staff performance and the adequacy of the chamber’s newsletter. Members are also given the chance to rate the importance of various programs and services.

The electronic survey has not gone on without a glitch. The chamber had to re-send the e-mail after it learned that the company it had contracted with – Zoomerang – was only soliciting responses from a small percentage of members. Valenta said the chamber decided it would be in its best interest to pay Zoomerang a higher fee so more members would be contacted.

Although the new surveying format figures to be more popular than using the mail or the telephone, it apparently will take time before everyone catches on. Valenta said some members thought the initial survey was spam – e-mail’s version of junk mail – and deleted it from their computer.

“This time around I sent a preliminary e-mail telling members to watch for the survey,” Valenta said. “We wanted to let them know this is legitimate.”

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