The power of benchmark data

When I report results to clients and their stakeholders, I’m often asked to say how a result compares to other results, for example other results in the same industry or in other countries. Benchmark data is very powerful, because it puts research findings in context.

We may find that 80% of an organisation’s clients are satisfied, but is that lower or higher than we should be expecting of the organisation?

Or we might find that 62% of people find a new print advertisement to be eye catching, but is the ad more or less effective than is typical of a print advertisement (ie, are you getting value for money from your print ad)?

A more concrete and recent example:

Last night ONE News reported that only a third (32%) of eligible New Zealand voters rate their trust in government security and intelligence services as 4 or 5 out of 5, where 1 is ‘do not trust them at all’ and 5 is ‘trust them completely’.

Is this a low or high level of trust?

The State Services Commission ask a very similar question in the Kiwis Count survey, except their question is about the public service in general. In the Kiwis Count survey, 42% of respondents gave the public service a trust rating of 4 or 5 out of 5.*

With the Kiwis Count result as a benchmark, we are able to say that (at the moment) trust in government security and intelligence services lower then for the public service as a whole.

*(Note the Kiwis Count question is asking people for their overall perception, and it not necessarily based on actual experience interacting with the public service. Among those who are asked to think about a recent experience, trust is found to be much higher, at 75%.)

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