As people become more bombarded with emails, phone calls and in-person drop-ins at home to participate in survey research, panel surveys have become more and more popular for companies to use. It makes sense, after all, its a ready-made sample of individuals just waiting to answer your survey!
But as the time commitment to a survey panel goes on, people drop out for various reasons. Fighting against attrition is a constant battle for any effort that takes place over a long period of time.
So, how can we be sure that a panel of say, 100 individuals selected to take part in 10 surveys over a period of one year is as representative in December as it was in January?
There are many sides to attrition in survey research, and it is a complex topic. In its most simplistic terms when there is a significant amount of attrition in a survey panel we see definite changes in the demography and behavior of the respondents and the responses. Individuals participating in a panel and who are willing to hang around for years doing surveys may be demographically similar to their cohorts who abandon the process, but they are clearly behaviorally different.
One way to assure a good blend of respondents and to fight against attrition in your panel of respondents is to thoroughly interview them before selection. Generating a lot of info on their behaviors, actions, past-behaviors and long-term professional commitments may be somewhat time consuming, but in the end you will have a more representative and diverse panel and a higher chance it will remain that way for the duration of the commitment.