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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: The Humanity of Board Games: Getting to those Nooks & Crannies that Technology Cannot Reach

Posted By Meena Aier, Thursday, April 2, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: The Humanity of Board Games: Getting to those Nooks & Crannies that Technology Cannot Reach

Presenter: Oana Popa Rengle, Anamnesis

Summary of Conference Session

In this engaging session at the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference, Oana Popa Rengle carefully built a framework around how board games can be used to generate (and not just communicate) insights.

Oana identified four main ways in which board games very naturally create an environment that can be conducive to unearthing real insights:

  1. Intimacy and connections – we tend to play board games with friends and family, so there can typically be a circle of trust around board game players.
  2. They encourage bluffing, deceit, creativity, etc. which are all elements that can be leveraged as strong tools to generate insight.
  3. There is a certain element of physicality about board games. In this highly digitized world, board games can bring back a fresh approach – players must either roll the dice or move pieces while playing board games. It could implicitly grant them more freedom in expressing themselves, which could result in richer insights.
  4. There is a level of ownership that comes with board games. Players can bend (or even break!) rules, they can create their own “house rules”.

Board games gives us a potentially novel way to give respondents control over the research process. They can tell their stories in their own ways, which can be quite powerful. Drawing on these four characteristics, researchers can transform a traditional focus group session into an engaging board game.

Key Session Takeaways

This was a session rich in content and lessons, and as such, there were many takeaways. Here are some of the critical ones:

  1. Oana was advocating for game-based research, and not gamification. This means that for board games to work, researchers need to have a mental model of the subject of inquiry – or at the very least, a mental model of how human motivation works. This mental model then needs to lend itself to a game-based format. Researchers will need to have a strong narrative underpinning the game and may find themselves needing to rethink their approach to posing questions and getting answers.
  2. Any board game needs to be competitive. This means participants "earn" points and they need to go through conditions that require them to "spend" their points to advance to the next stage. This creates a powerful "pain of payment" moment and forces them to make real choices about what they really need, and what they can live without – a tactic that can certainly be helpful when trying to determine what features are important in a product.
  3. Researchers can also take this opportunity to have their clients play against the players, especially in cases where in order to proceed to the next stage, or earn resources, players are required to highlight things that frustrate them about client products. This can create a powerful moment of empathy, where clients can firsthand experience the voice of their customer and see what it feels like to be a consumer of their products.
  4. There can potentially be limitations – a focus group format can provide opportunities for the moderator to dig deep into a participant observation/opinion, until it turns into insight. In a board game, a participant might make an interesting (or a highly promising) observation, but the chance to dive deeper into that observation may be very limited. One potential way around this limitation may be to create a "bonus" card or a bonus choice, where participants are able to earn additional resources for elaborating further on that observation.
  5. Board games are a great opportunity to bring fun. Laughter can break the ice, and in building a shared, trusting environment, can create a pathway to insight.

 

Aha Moment

I really enjoyed Oana’s unique presentation, so much so that I couldn’t limit my “aha-moment” to just one.

  1. Oana’s simple yet deeply powerful understanding of the insight generation process made this session one of the best at this year’s QRCA conference. This quote in particular, will always be something I come back to – "Insight isn't always buried in depths. Sometimes, it is just at the surface, waiting for someone to find that connection."
  2.  It was absolutely ingenious the way in which Oana brought in an element of play into the presentation itself – using red and green glowsticks to make the audience indicate their preferences. It brought laugher, a certain level of excitement, and was a live demonstration of how that element of play made a 50+ strong audience communicate their real preference (i.e, they would much rather hear Oana talk about board games than engage in an activity – which goes against most presenters’ initial hypotheses about engaging audiences).

Final Comments

This session really had me thinking through how a board game format can potentially be used to test messages. It truly was an incredible session that took the exact opposite route of digitization – and instead focused on something so fundamentally human – play!

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Meena Aier, Crestview Strategy

Tags:  Focus Groups  QRCA Annual Conference  Reporter on the Scene  Research  Research Methodologies 

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Remote Research in the Time of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Posted By LaiYee Ho, Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Remote Research in the Time of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With offices mandating employees to work from home, and people across the world hunkering down, researchers everywhere are scrambling to figure out how to make it all work from their home offices. 

I’ve been doing remote research out of my home for years, so I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks from my own remote-research arsenal!

In-office conversations with colleagues: Try Slack

For all conversations, whether it’s discussions about business strategy, sharing ideas on research plans, or sharing random funny articles online, we use Slack. Slack enables us to have many fluid conversations at once, and to organize conversations by topic (such as #customer-discussions, #finance-accounting, #strategy).

Communication with participant recruits: Try Intercom

Rather than using email or a group email, consider using a CRM to communicate with research participants. I have used Intercom as a CRM and have found it incredibly helpful as a way to keep track who we reached out to for which study, and to keep a log of all the communication we’ve had so far with each recruit. It allows my team members to see the previous conversations and take over for me if necessary (something that’s nearly impossible in email). If Intercom doesn’t work for your particular client, consider checking out other group CRMs to solve the same problem.

Scheduling interviews: Try Calendly

Calendly is an incredible streamlined way to have participants schedule time for studies. It syncs directly with your calendar (for us, it’s Google calendar), and you can set parameters for when someone can schedule time. Just send them a link and they can instantly book a time with you.

In-depth interviews: Try Zoom

Zoom is an online video chat service with great video quality that is super easy to use. It can also support video chats with large groups of people if you’re running a study with more than one participant. You can also record the session (make sure to always ask for consent first!)

Compensating participants: Send digital gift cards

Compensate participants by sending digital Amazon gift cards. These will get emailed straight to them. As an additional tip, if you have international recruits in other countries that want a gift card for their local Amazon branch, purchase the gift card from that country’s Amazon site. (For instance, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/ to send someone an Amazon UK gift card. Amazon gift cards aren’t transferable between countries once purchased.

Writing documents: Try Google Docs

If you were using Microsoft Word and emailing them around, or printing them out for colleagues to review, it’s time to switch to Google Docs. Google Docs is online and fully collaborative. Colleagues can comment directly in your document and collaboratively write with you in real time.

Transcript analysis and coding: Try DelveTool

If you were printing out transcripts and highlighting them using Post-it notes or using desktop based tools like NVivo or ATLAS.ti without online capabilities, consider switching to DelveTool. (Full disclosure, I’m the co-founder so I designed and created this tool out of my own pain points). Now that your research team is working remotely from their homes, DelveTool offers a way for your team to code and analyze a single project together from wherever they are.

Creating presentation decks: Try Paste by WeTransfer

If you were using Microsoft PowerPoint, it’s time to consider using Paste. It’s online, fully collaborative, and makes your decks absolutely beautiful with very little effort. It doesn’t have all the power features of PowerPoint, but that’s precisely the benefit. You can create gorgeous slides with just a quote on a single page or drop in a video clip from a research session. You’ll spend significantly less time making the deck and it will look 1000% better than a standard PowerPoint.

Streamlining and automating your process: Try Zapier

Zapier takes a bit of tech tinkering, but is a great way to automate any repetitive, manual tasks that you’re already doing. For example, if you’re keeping track of participant recruitment status in a Google Sheet, you can use Zapier to automatically update that spreadsheet when participants schedule an interview using Calendly.

Best of luck setting up your remote research workspace. If you have any questions or have recommendations that you want to share, please reach out to me!

 

LaiYee Ho is the co-founder of DelveTool, where she pours her years of experience as a UX researcher and designer into creating tools for researchers. Before beginning her entrepreneurial journey, she was one of the first UX designers of the Amazon Fire TV, where she learned about the importance of simplicity in design. She then went on to build the first UX research team at a smart home automation startup, where she learned how to uncover human motivations. She has a degree in Information Science from Cornell and lives in New York City.

Tags:  Market Research Technology  Marketing Technology  Remote Market Research  Remote Work  Research Methodologies  Research Methodology  Solopreneur 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Keeping Austin Weird - Authentic Insight from Texas Creative

Posted By Laurie Bredenfoerder, BValley Communications, Thursday, March 12, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene:
Keeping Austin Weird - Authentic Insight from Texas Creative

Presenter: Daniel Berkal, The Palmerston Group

 QualPower Blog
Left to right) Professor Ryan Romero; #Texascreative students Rocio Santiago, Esther Shin, Cailyn Wesstrom, Joel Linkewer, Nick Gonzales, and presenter Daniel Berkal

Summary of Conference Session
A unique session at the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference was the “Keeping Austin Weird - Authentic Insight from Texas Creative” panel presentation led by Daniel Berkal.

Art directors and copywriters-to-be enrolled in the #Texas Creative program at UT-Austin share big-picture insights they've gained while completing class assignments. For those QRCs that work in communications, these people will become future clients. But the world has rapidly changed. Different tools are available. The age of creative-test focus groups may be over! The panel focused on questions like “What are the people looking for in their qualitative research?”, “What kinds of methodologies and approaches are most valuable to them?”, and  “What are the needs of the modern creative industry?”

Key Session Takeaways
Personally, I had so many takeaways from this presentation. Gaining this kind of insight was absolutely invaluable to my work. A few highlights from the discussion are:

  • That we, as qualitative professionals, need to "look for the human truth", "use insights to describe how people do things or how things actually function”, and “be out where the people are".
  • To deal with challenges to your creative idea:
    • "I try to think through what the rationale behind the idea is."
    • "There's always water in the well and we need to keep coming back to it."
  • What does the creative process look like for you?
    • "At the beginning, you try to get the 'walls' out of the way. The human truths blow through any personal bias."
    • "Being a great communicator is saying things very simply and clearly."
  • How do you know when a creative idea is good?
    • "People laugh."
    •  "They nod their heads."
    • "Good ideas bring more ideas. Bad ideas stop the conversation."

Aha Moment
Advice from the students' professor, Ryan Romero, on how to accept criticism: "If five people tell you you're drunk, you probably should sit down on the curb."

Final Comments
Try to look out beyond the process and focus on keeping research human. Dan Berkal brought students and QRCA members in a room without giving either group any explanation of what was "supposed to happen" or "why."  It did, and we gained from it. Thanks, Dan and #Texas Creative!"

 

Laurie BredenfoerderQRCA Reporter on the Scene:
Laurie Bredenfoerder, BValley Communications

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative  Qualitative Careers  Texas Creative 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Wise Ways to Go Forward with Humanity

Posted By Arilene Hernandez, Independent Consultant/Behavioral Health Clinician, Thursday, March 5, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene:
Wise Ways to Go Forward with Humanity

Presenter: Naomi Henderson, RIVA Market Research & Training Institute

 QualPower Blog

Summary of Conference Session
The 2020 QRCA Annual Conference gave all who attended the chance to hear from a plethora of talented and respected speakers, including a bonus keynote, the qualitative superstar herself, Naomi Henderson!

During her closing keynote presentation, “Wise Ways to Go Forward with Humanity”, Naomi gave a look into the story of her birth, a foreshadowing of the uniqueness she was to embody for the rest of her life. This uniqueness bleeds into her work today and led her down the path of training researchers in the art and science of rigorous qualitative research techniques. During her presentation Naomi identified for the audience the four qualities that distinguish qualitative researchers. The main one being that “we are inspired to use those things that make us human to be the translators for those who are deaf to the voice of the consumer.”

Aha Moment
Naomi’s metaphor of how the back of the hand and the palm of the hand represents quant and qual research, respectively, was a fascinating take on how the two worlds of research interact and how qualitative research is so important for clients to understand their consumers.

Final Comments
Naomi’s presentation was a reminder that being human and connecting with other humans is what facilitates great qual research. She inspired the audience to continue to be creative, passionate and embrace humor.

 

Arilene HernandezQRCA Reporter on the Scene:
Arilene Hernandez, Independent Consultant/Behavioral Health Clinician

Tags:  Humanizing Research  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative  Qualitative Research  Quantitative 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Rise of the Robots, Chatbots, Humans!

Posted By Gayle Moberg, Thursday, February 27, 2020
Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Rise of the Robots, Chatbots, Humans!

Presenter: Kristin Luck, ScaleHouse and Women in Research (WIRe)

Summary

As the opening keynote speaker of the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference where the theme was “Keep Qual Human”, many in attendance were excited to hear how we can marry advances in technology with our qualitative practices and instincts.  Throughout the session, Kristin focused on what we've done right as researchers and more importantly, what we can do better as our industry continues to change and grow.

Above all, Kristin highlighted that we need to be researchers (not just quallies); observers, not just questioners; consultants/synthesizers, not just analysts; storytellers, not just fact reporters; we need to engage with our respondents as humans, not robots. 

Key Session Takeaways

I had so many takeaways from Kristin’s keynote talk the first being that we should all identify as "Researchers," not "Qual" or "Quant." We need to continue to grow our practice which means avoiding older labels and instead focusing on what we all do, research.

Another impactful takeaway from Kristin’s session was that the market research industry is bigger than cloud services, coffee, and digital music. As Kristin put it, "data is the new oil." This of course now means that “traditional" research is now threatened by falling between clients' faster/lower-cost DIY research and consulting firms' ability to move from [tactical] data collection to [strategic] holistic, synthesized recommendations, which resonate with C-suites. Since the C-suite has changed, we must to as researchers. It’s time to become Data Translator/Synthesizers, not just Data Collector/Analyzers and put on our "Research Mullets", Business in front, Party in the back!

Aha Moment

Kristin’s quote: "Data is the new oil” was EYE-OPENING! That's a BIG deal, it really conveys the value of what we do and offer.

Final Comments and Takeaways

We must stop pigeon-holing ourselves as Qual researchers! It’s time to think of ourselves as researchers, storytellers, synthesizers, observers, strategists who engage respondents as HUMANS on their terms, not ours. Let's all go forward to work as humans above all else!

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Gayle Moberg, GDM Marketing Solutions

 

 

Tags:  Kristin Luck  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research 

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California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Posted By Katrina Noelle, Tuesday, February 25, 2020

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The information provided in this blog post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please consult with your own legal counsel on your situation.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
https://kofirm.com/ccpa-california-consumer-privacy-act-need-to-know

 

What is CCPA?
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a new state privacy law that impacts most market research and data analytics companies, and covers almost all consumer data. The law applies to almost any kind of data, and in any form, not just to electronic/online data.

GDPR vs. CCPA
CCPA’s goal is to give California residents greater control over how organizations collect, use and disclose their personal data. Although there are some similarities with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), CCPA also introduces additional rights for consumers such as the right to opt out from allowing a business to sell their personal data. Certain CCPA requirements overlap with the existing GDPR requirements, but several policies, processes and systems will still need updating to address differences between the two laws.

Who does CCPA apply to?
The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) estimates that the new law “will apply to more than 500,000 U.S. companies, the vast majority of which are small- to medium-sized enterprises.”

Basically, CCPA covers for-profit companies “that collect consumers’ personal information, or on the behalf of which such information is collected and that alone, or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of consumers’ personal information, that does business in the State of California, and that satisfies one or more of the following thresholds:

  1. Have greater than $25 million in annual gross revenue;
  2. Annually handle personal information for 50,000 consumers; or
  3. Derive half of annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.

The CCPA only imposes obligations on a business and not on service providers directly. As defined under the CCPA, a “service provider” is a for-profit entity “that processes information on behalf of a business.” If your company does not meet the requirements above to qualify as a business, your company may still be subject to the vendor management obligations that a business is required to impose on its service providers.

EXAMPLE: a company that falls within the scope of the CCPA must require by contract that their suppliers that process  information on behalf of the company only retain, use, or disclose such personal information for the specific purpose of performing the services as specified in the contract.

Because many marketing research and data analytics companies (as well as our clients) will be covered by CCPA, it’s something to look into no matter where you are based. The only way to really avoid this law will be for a company to have nothing to do with data on a California resident (including a California employee, independent contractor or participant). That’s hard to avoid when doing nationwide research projects!
 
It’s tempting to think that your company is “too small to worry.” But while some small companies may not be covered, it still will be hard for them to escape the law’s reach.

EXAMPLE: a small recruiting company that recruits less than 50,000 individuals for other organizations’ studies would be subject to this law if recruitment (the sale of consumers’ personal contact and qualifications for a study to the recruiter’s clients) makes up half or more of its annual revenue.

What do I do to comply?
Businesses that fall under the scope of the CCPA will need to update data practices and procedures in order to comply with certain CCPA disclosure requirements. Businesses that fail to comply with the CCPA may be subject to “monetary penalties, regulatory enforcement actions, and private rights of action.”

Based on conversations with experts I’ve spoken to on the topic, there are a few things you should do/consider to ensure you are CCPA compliant:

  1. Meet with your lawyer to determine if you need to be CCPA compliant and what steps you need to take in order to do so.
  2. Consider updating your Privacy Policy.
  3. Consider updating your operating agreements, written information security program (WISP) and/or incident response plan (IRP).
  4. Review your company’s agreements with service providers to be sure you are up to date with their requirements.

Note that since the law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, there will be updates to it; keep abreast of changes here: https://oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa or subscribe to the mailing list here: https://oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa/subscribe

 

Katrina is principal of KNow Research, a full service insights consultancy specializing in designing custom qualitative insights projects for 16+ years to unlock insights about brands and target audiences. She is also co-founder of Scoot Insights, whose trademarked ScootTM Sprint approach helps decision-makers choose the right direction.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/katrinanoelle/

 

Tags:  CCPA  data  QRCA Digest 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Autoethnography: Real Human Real Quick

Posted By Amye Parker, Thursday, February 20, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Autoethnography: Real Human Real Quick

Presenters: Jenny Karubian, Ready to Launch ResearchScott Koenig, MRXology

Summary

Jenny and Scott’s session was delivered to a packed room at the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference, starting with a warm welcome and quick poll: nearly everyone present currently conducts ethnographies, but only a handful of audience members were familiar with autoethnography. Which sparked an obvious need for a definition.

Autoethnography allows the research participant to also be the researcher, by describing and evaluating cultural experiences, analyzing their stories and engaging with the meaning and emotion in their experiences. Journaling is an oft-used qualitative method and, while like autoethnography, Jenny and Scott highlighted the key differences between the two methods.

They described journaling as more about recording, while autoethnography is about reflection; journaling often captures daily activities, behavioral patterns and functional responses, while autoethnography yields results about the broader cultural context and responses may draw from a longer period of time (e.g. reflecting back to childhood). Another key difference is autoethnography’s encouragement for participants to draw commonalities and conclusions from the other participants involved in the study.

Key Session Takeaways

The topic of autoethnography drew a large crowd of people with little to no experience with the method, indicating a strong interest among researchers to continually evolve our toolbox as researchers. Jenny and Scott did a great job bringing the method to life through their case study, and I especially liked the example autoethnography questions. Their practical checklists and comparison tables demonstrated how elements of autoethnography could easily be applied to the online qualitative research that many quallies are already conducting.

Aha Moment

During the session, Jenny and Scott brought autoethnography to life through sharing the results of a recent case study. Seeing autoethnography in action helped highlight how I could utilize this tool in my own practice! This was especially evident when we saw the results of a comparison in journaling responses and autoethnography responses, with autoethnography participants providing more emotion, nostalgia, and long-form answers to the online questions. 

Final Comments and Takeaways

The session ended with a lengthy Q&A session, with at least 15 different questions being asked by the audience…the sign of a truly engaging presentation! Key discussions were about recruitment and what screener questions were needed to ensure autoethnography participants had quality writing skills and the ability to reflect/draw meaningful insights from their own stories. Thank you, Scott and Jenny, for an informative session!

 

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Amye Parker, Jackman Reinvents

 

Tags:  ethnography  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Research Methodologies 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: UX Research is not a Synonym for Usability Testing

Posted By Rachel Wang, Thursday, February 13, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: UX Research is not a Synonym for Usability Testing

Presenter: Kristine Remer, JuneUX

Summary

At the QRCA 2020 Annual Conference, Kristine Remer started her presentation “UX Research is not a Synonym for Usability Testing” with a bold declaration, that she is not afraid of dancing in public and she used that throughout her presentation.

Dancing aside, throughout her presentation Kristine shared her gold mine of knowledge about the UX research world. She reminded all in attendance that UX research is not a synonym for usability testing. The headline of the presentation may be an “I-cannot-agree-more” truth for savvy UX researchers and designers, but an unknown land to explore for others.  Kristine unveils this myth with her 3-part sharing- what is UX research, where UX researchers work, and how do UX researchers work. With each step, she lured the audience into the heart of the UX research world.

At the end of her presentation, Kristine encouraged the audience to further dive into the UX design world by joining the design twitter, mentor UX researchers, and exploring additional UX resources from a recent blog post.

Key Session Takeaways

So, what are my key takeaways from this fabulous session?

WHAT IS UX RESEARCH?

  1. First of all, UX stands for user experience.
  2. User experience is a broad field. This is because the USER is human, and humans have a vast range of experiences. Think of things like eating, drinking, sleeping, grooming, dressing, commuting, working, entertaining, socializing, reading, teaching, health-caring, dating, lovemaking, parenting, shopping, traveling and beyond.
  3. The research of the UX is to facilitate the design of the products or services related to the human experience. Some examples include to design a salsa holder/bottle, a webpage, an application, a museum, or the airline service system that makes sense to the users.
  4. UX research uses a ton of methodologies which are listed and explained on Kristine’s website.

WHERE UX RESEARCHERS WORK

UX researchers work in a vast range of places related to the design and innovation of the product or service, including innovation labs, on product, service or CX teams and in Centers of Excellence.

HOW UX RESEARCHERS WORK

The delivery is not in word-intensive reports, but the visually-juicy MAPS. To name a few, the Empathy Map, Task Analysis Grid, Storyboard, Story Map and Service Blueprint.

Aha Moment

Kristine Remer has great moves for dancing as well as for UX Research Methodology. She has collected and summarized a whole page of the UX research methodology!

Final Comments and Takeaways

With all the different words and systems of methodology, UX Research and Qualitative Research have the same goal of creating positive social impact through deeper understanding and effectively sharing the Human Truth. Set no limit for your approaches, folks.

 

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Rachel Wang, LTH Business Consulting

 

 

Tags:  data  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  UX 

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Adapting Your Listening Skills to the Online World

Posted By Ted Kendall, Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Adapting Your Listening Skills to the Online World

By: Ted Kendall

Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

As a successful qually, you intuitively know the importance of listening, how to listen well, and how to show participants that you are listening.

Listening is important because it engenders trust, creates rapport, and opens participants up.

In a physical setting, the key things we do to listen, and to show we are listening, include:

  1. Asking questions in response to participant’s thoughts
  2. Using verbal and non-verbal cues to show how you are listening
  3. Letting participants complete their own sentences
  4. Maintaining eye contact
  5. Acknowledging comments in specific ways like boarding or post-it notes

You will have noticed that most involve physicality—you have to be there in real life.

So, how do you listen, and just as importantly, show you are listening, in online qual?

Before we get into this, let me clarify that when I am talking about online qual in this context, I am referring to text-based online qual—primarily bulletin board style. While webcam interviews may be considered online, real life listening skills can be applied to the medium fairly easily.

Set Expectations to Counter Online Research Misperceptions

Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash

A unique challenge with online qual is that participants don’t necessarily know the difference between a survey and a qualitative discussion, so they often treat the study as if it were a survey. And they often believe that any interactions will be with a chatbot, not a real person.

It’s critical to counter these widely held beliefs and set the appropriate expectations up front. Tell participants you are listening to what they will say. And let them know it’s not a survey—it’s a conversation.

I can sometimes be pretty blunt about this—even going so far as to tell participants that if they just speed through the answers to my questions, they will not get the incentive. And then, when someone does that, I follow through on the promise and call them on it. Often it changes their interactions. Sometimes it doesn’t. But they definitely know you are listening. And, if the discussion is open to the whole group, others will see that you are listening as well.

Depending on the platform, you can use the messaging tools as well as the landing pages to accomplish this. And if the tools aren’t there, just use email or text, even phone, outside of the application.

I also make it a habit to reply to every participant post in the introductions—much like I do in a traditional focus group setting, or for that matter, in a conversation with a stranger. These replies can often reflect common ground, ” I love spending the day in the mountains with my dog too.  What kind of dog do you have?” That’s not a question that will provide rich insights, but it will help open up the participant and really shows you are listening.

It’s critical to establish early in the conversation that you are a living, breathing, listening human being—not some chatbot or AI ghost in the machine. This has a huge impact on how participants approach your conversation.

Avoid AI Tools

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Several online platform providers are touting AI generated responses to participants. All I can say is that this is what we get when we let the programmers drive development. Avoid this feature. Yes, it saves you time during the discussion. But it also removes you from the conversation—you are no longer actively listening. You wouldn’t let a robot take over your focus group session just to save time, would you?

Also, AI is not yet perfect. And it needs to be in this case. It’s not a life or death situation, unless you consider the life or death of the research conversation. Even if the AI gets 90% of the interactions correct, there is that 10% that will suck the air right out of your conversation with that participant. If you are using a group setting, other participants will see the mistake and the negative impact becomes exponential.

So just don’t do it. The potential losses greatly outweigh the potential time savings. Besides, actually responding manually forces you to listen and learn—which is what this is all about. Don’t let a robot take your job.

How to Digitally Use “Non-verbal” Cues and Maintain Eye Contact

Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

In the online, text-based world, you certainly can’t maintain eye contact, nor can you provide non-verbal cues to show you are listening. So how do you employ those key principles of listening in an online, text-based world?

Probably the most obvious way is replying to participants’ posts with questions to better understand what they have said or get some clarification on their comment. Yes, I am talking about the same probing questions we lay on participants in focus groups and interviews. These probing questions work just as well online as they do in real life.

To replace those non-verbal cues, I have found it quite effective to comment or ask questions even when there is no need to do so. The idea is that by just saying something, participants recognize that you are there and you are reading what they are posting—you are listening.
Sometimes it is easy to just copy and paste the same general comment to several participants when you do this. If the participants can’t see one another, this is fine and saves you time. But if the participants can see each other, then it just makes you look like a robot.

It’s important when making comments just to show yourself to not require a reply—often this is an option. I like to just thank people for providing quality detail or thank them for an interesting take on the topic. The important thing is to personalize it a bit, to keep it from sounding generic.

Another way to show you are listening is to use the messaging app within the platform to hold meta conversations outside the actual discussion. I make it a point to send reminders at set times as well as thank-yous at the end of the day of discussion.

These messages don’t have to be just logistical in nature. You can also use them to show you are listening. Sometimes I will include a comment about some of the discussion—an insight that came through for the whole group of participants, or sometimes personalizing it to a specific participant.

In the end, listening is important to successful qual, whether you are in the same room as the participant or interacting digitally. It’s just how you listen, and how you show that you are listening, that can take a little adjustment in the digital qual world. But it’s no less important and no less doable.

Author Bio:

Ted KendallTed Kendall is the founder of TripleScoop, a boutique research agency that has a focus on online qualitative. Ted got to this place in his career by being in the right place at the right time to pioneer in early online methods. He was a co-founder of QualTalk that became 20/20 Research’s QualBoards. He learned how to moderate online qual through trial and error and has moderated hundreds of online qual discussions and interviews since that first one in 1997. And he is usually a good listener.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/triplescoopted

Tags:  Listening  Online Listening  QRCA Digest  Qualitative  Qualitative Research  Research Methodology 

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Super-qualitative! Using Qual Skills Beyond Market Research

Posted By Foster Winter, Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Super-qualitative! Using Qual Skills Beyond Market Research

By: Foster Winter

Looking Back – A Year of Change in the World of Qualitative

Please be assured, my qualitative colleagues, this subject is not intended to demean the discipline of market research. We love MR. However, over time we found that our qualitative universe was expanding. Now before you delve into astrophysics, we promise to keep our discussion more earthbound.

Whether you are in the early stages of your qualitative career, having mid-career reflections or thinking of winding down your MR-based practice, we’ve found some examples of adjacencies that may serve as thought provoking for you.

The Operating Theatre

One of our colleagues has used her qualitative background to help in a most important aspect of the world of medicine. Many of you will remember Lauren Woodiwiss as an active member of QRCA for many years. As an avocation, Lauren had been involved in community theatre. As she moved into the next phase of her career, Lauren continued to hone her acting skills, becoming a professional actor.

Lauren WoodiwissShe says that one of her most rewarding roles is that of a patient interacting with medical professionals at all levels, from first-year med students to physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel. Nearly all medical schools now employ patient/health care provider role-playing as a valuable communication and physical exam training technique.

Lauren has found that her qualitative skills, such as reading body language coupled with rapid-fire, in-the-moment, relevant, and ad-libbed response allow her to realistically portray the patient and then provide both written and oral feedback to the learner and to the training institution. This feedback can include direction on what helped her — as a patient — to feel cared for and respected, as well as more concrete feedback of multiple aspects of taking a complete history, asking relevant questions and follow-up probes and correctly executing the physical exam.

The feedback questionnaire can have as many at 40 different elements of evaluation. These must be rated based on the “patient’s” memory of the encounter which just took place and, as mentioned, the evaluation encompasses all aspects of communication from the time the learner enters to the time of exit.

A qualitative researcher has the ability to have many thought “balls” in the air at once, such as:

What is the respondent saying?
Does that answer the question I just asked? If not, is it a point I should explore?
Does it fit the client’s objectives for the research?
How am I doing on time?

It is these skills that exquisitely prepare medical professionals for this job.

Working with Underserved Populations

As a recently retired QRC, Barbara Rugen and her husband joined the Peace Corps and were sent for two years to the African country of Namibia.

Barbara Rugen“Never once did I think I would be called upon to use my qualitative background. To my surprise, I found that my skills could make a significant difference there.”

Barbara worked largely with the Nama, who constitute the marginalized communities of the south. The first thing she learned about the Nama was the disillusionment of foreign agencies that had tried to help them: “They just don’t care!” was a common complaint. The second realization was the local prejudice against them, particularly by the white Afrikaaners: “I don’t hire Nama. The Nama are too lazy.”

A small number of Nama were in positions of influence who wanted to uplift their people but were unsure how. Barbara conducted IDIs with the leaders and focus groups with the Nama people. The qualitative sessions explored Nama attitudes and behavior, and the research provided insights to help leaders frame recommendations for Nama capacity building and develop an action plan for the capacity building of these marginalized people.

If you are interested in learning more about this adventure in qualitative, you can hear an interview with Barbara on a VIEWS podcast at https://qrcaviews.org/2019/03/11/spring-podcast-using-qualitative-techniques-within-marginalized-populations/

Business Consulting and Talent Recruiting

My journey into the adjacent qualitative universe began with a small strategy project for a company I call a re-startup. The company had reorganized and was now on a growth path. The task at hand was where to start rebuilding the organization.

Enter strategic qualitative. We began with in-person depth interviews with members of the senior management team. From the knowledge gained, we recommended that the first personnel hole that needed to be plugged was that of a MarCom director. The client agreed, and then said, “find us one.”I looked around to see if they were talking to me. But then, I realized that many organizations, particularly those in startup mode, do not – in fact should not – have their key management people getting into the weeds of going through the hiring process.

We did find our client a suitable candidate for that position — if I do say so — she’s been there for nearly 3 years, and is doing a great job with a five-person department reporting to her. And we learned and developed a process that allows the supervisory/management team to do their primary jobs and still bring in the proper new talent.

Now, I admit my bias – and my client concurs with this view – that a primary reason the process works is that the foundation of the search is based on interviews treated as qualitative investigations. The nuances of the conversations also keep an ear on cues to the candidate’s compatibility with the culture of the organization, a very important aspect to a growing company.

Super-qualitative

While the three examples above illustrate later-career direction shifts, as we noted at the outset, qualitative expertise might offer new trajectories at any point in this rapidly changing research universe. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Author Bio:

Foster WinterFoster Winter is Managing Director of Sigma Research & Management Group. His experience as a business owner and researcher has contributed to his capabilities as a management and organizational consultant. Foster has served on the QRCA Board of Directors, co-chaired the Worldwide Qualitative Conference in Budapest and is the host of the QRCA VIEWS Conversations in Depth podcasts.

Tags:  Consulting  Market Research  QRCA Digest  Qualitative 

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