"They (TEK Express) are professional, ethical and practical in their approach to business." - Alan Hunt, Operations Project Manager, BMRB

One of Europe's largest full service market research agencies finds that small can be beautiful in a laptop support service provider.

Once famed for being credited weekly on national television and radio as the organisation that compiled the national music charts, the British Market Research Bureau - now known as BMRB International - provides solutions internationally in media and marketing research, social policy and public interest research, and stakeholder relationship measurement and management.

BMRB employs a full range of data collection methods and analysis tools to deliver a service that also provides expertise in omnibus services including international and online, web-based research, desk research, and cutting-edge analysis software.

"Our status as a full service agency is crucial to the relationships we establish with our clients," explains Alan Hunt, Operations Project Manager of BMRB.

"We have access to a range of resources and shared thinking and for us, full service means full control over quality, greater flexibility and more creativity. For the client, that means greater understanding and more informed decision-making."

As reportedly the longest established research company in the country (it is 70 this year) BMRB has worked with a bewildering array of companies and organisations since it was formed. Most are blue chip clients such as government agencies, for whom BMRB conducts ongoing programmes of research.

Much of their research is "social, with a good purpose", Alan Hunt points out, exemplified by the Government's British Crime Survey - data from which the media regularly receives.

The process of gleaning and presenting the data that its clients pay for involves a huge logistical and organisational process that BMRB admits would be "a nightmare" to fully control in house.

It runs a fully multimedia fieldforce of some 700 interviewers who span the length and breadth of the UK and interview respondents mainly in their homes on largely "social research" using computer driven interviewing scripts on laptops, Alan Hunt explains. Each is remotely based with a laptop, usually from home, and aged predominantly in the 50+ age group.

"We control the form of the surveys that are conducted, but it is then down to the interpersonal skills of the panel to convince people to give up as much as an hour of their time to answering questions."

A process that can be aggravated by the high turnover of interviewers, he adds. "We have a loyal core of around 200, but the remainder are transient and will work for us for a few months before moving on." Every interviewer is fully trained but their skills are developed over time, he says. "A good interviewer is valuable to us," he stresses.

Helping BMRB in its task is TEK Express, a laptop support company based in Crawley, West Sussex that specialises in bespoke solutions for large corporates.

"The company integrates with our project management operation," Alan Hunt explains, "and communicates fully with the panel of researchers on all aspects of laptop support and advise us on hardware suppliers too.