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Journey Mapping: Big Picture Thinking

Posted By Aliza Pollack, Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Journey Mapping: Big Picture Thinking


I sit here writing, waiting for inspiration to hit: Where is that pithy line that usually finds its way to my brain? The one that sets up the essay/article/slide so well? This is what I do: I take big ideas and craft them into compelling packages to showcase their meaning. But times are intense. And inspiration isn’t so light and sparkly right now. My mind shifts to the bigger issues at play. As I ponder the pandemic, and the stark lifestyle changes it has brought on—civic uprisings, Black Lives Matter, pain, unemployment—it’s hard to deny how interconnected we are, and how vital it is to consider the context when trying to understand a problem.

This attitude translates to work. Often, before COVID-19, a business problem would reveal itself and one team would own it and the solution-finding process. Collaboration across teams can easily be stymied by the rush of business life, with looming KPIs, clogged calendars, quarterly reports, changing leadership and multiple hashtag and mottoes like, “move fast and break things.” The world, and the people in it, are complex. Thinking and working contextually is fundamental. It encourages collaborative work and holistic solutions. Enter journey mapping: a framework that sheds light on the full customer experience. The behaviors, attitudes, delight, and pain points that the customer encounters on the way to your product/category/service/experience. When executed well, journey mapping can coalesce often siloed consumer-facing teams and inspire a more nuanced marketing and product development road map.

Here are my four steps that might help you make this fit within your organization:

Benchmark: Root the team

As with all fact-finding missions, before starting consumer fieldwork, gather your major stakeholders in any way possible (e.g., individual interviews – face to face, phone, short workshop, Google doc, survey) and build alignment.

  • Download what is known across teams (marketing, product, CX, data science, etc.): ingoing hypotheses, perceptions of the journey, CRM survey open-ends, personas/segments we want to pursue, competitive analysis, data science.
  • Identify what is unknown: What confuses, what are barriers to entry, underlying motivations, who is the real customer, duration of this journey, perceived competition, biases.
  • Agree on what success looks like: How should the final deliverable look, what does it need to achieve, what will this work impact within the organization—communications development, product development/refinement, innovation, all?

Discovery: Center on your respondent

  • Who will you talk to? Think through the key identifying variables of your broad user base: demographics, frequency of usage, awareness of category, awareness of brand, etc.
  • Go into discomfort zones: Journeys capture the full lifecycle which extends beyond purchase. Talk with power/passion users, latent users and rejecters.
  • Focus on the individual: I strive for pristine data, so choose one-on-one interviews (video, F2F) rather than focus groups. Use your analysis to uncover patterns.
  • Kickstart participant memory: We’re asking people to recall experiences, which are inherently flawed (humans forget). Help them shore up memories with real-life artifacts: calendar entries, receipts, credit card slips, social media posts…. these items spark authentic stories and emotions. 

A picture containing book, store Description automatically generated

Analysis and visualization: Show your story

Most likely, you’re sitting on a trove of data (yikes!) with a need to synthesize in both meaningful and compelling ways.

  • Plan ahead: Talk with your client in advance to decide on the best form of deliverable(s). Guide them toward what’s possible. They also might want to validate quantitatively, so talk through how you can be of service to bring it all together without losing the high touch of qual.
  • Sparring partner: It’s likely that you will be lost in the data weeds. Pluck someone from the team, the office (the street?) to share your findings. Relaying the story to a stranger reveals its strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t answer their questions, there’s more work to be done.
  • Bring on the designers: Unless you’re design-gifted, work with a professional. They’ll elevate your product.

Action planning: Move them to the next step

While this isn’t integral to the journey map process, it’s an important part of your client’s path. I try to bake it in to the workflow. You’ve started the project with full team inclusion; now help them all put this valuable information to use.

  • Can you share it to the full team, followed by a Q&A session?
  • Can you conduct a workshop/sprint to inspire some new ideas which they will prioritize?
  • Can you overlay it with jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework so the team can see how their respective plans match/meet where users are, and how they feel in that moment.

Through a rigorous process, fed by varied disciplines/teams, journey maps help you pull back to see the sum of all parts.

A picture containing person, indoor, table, ceiling Description automatically generatedAliza Pollack runs research projects to root brand initiatives in real insight. Her work is human-centered, not consumer-oriented. Any brand, no matter how loved, is a fleck of dust in our lives. To resonate, it needs to know how people live, their ambitions, fears, and inspirations. I love digging for those nuggets.

 

 

Tags:  Customer Journey maps  Data visualization  QRCA Digest  qualitative research  research methodologies  research methodology 

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The Future of In-Person Market Research

Posted By Chris Hauck, Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Future of In-Person Market Research 

For the first few minutes, I thought the recent QRCA webinarThe Future of In-Person Market Research” was mistitled. I was expecting a panel of futurists talking about whether this old-fashioned approach to research would evolve into some kind of totally invasive biomeasurement product. Plug the respondent in, download the data from their brain and voila! Insights! No moderator needed!

Thankfully, the conversation with four leaders from different focus group facility companies was well thought through and perfectly timed. Prior to the call, I hadn’t even considered going back to a live group in 2020. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be getting on an airplane, picking up my rental car, driving to a hotel, cleaning up, putting on my focus group uniform, walking over to the facility and then spending six hours talking to people in a closed room, sharing stimuli and collecting exercises from them.

It was clear from the conversation that I won’t be doing exactly that in the near future, but I probably won’t be sitting at home wondering when we will return to facilities either. Our four panelists—Laura Livers, Schlesinger Group; Rick Seale, Shugoll Research; Amy Shields, Nichols Research and Brett Watkins; L&E Research, — inspired confidence in their efforts to open their facilities safely.

What does safely mean?

Given that we don’t fully understand this virus and or how it works, the panel gave me considerable confidence that they are on top of cleanliness in the same way that airlines or hotel chains are maintaining separation and keeping everything clean. I left the panel confident that they are doing everything to protect the moderator, the participants, and any clients who may want to join. They have all purchased a variety of products and tools to make this happen (mostly plexiglass dividers and sophisticated steam cleaning systems). And they have put in place detailed and complex procedures to protect our safety.

We will all wear masks outside the room, scheduling will be closely managed to ensure as few people as possible are in common spaces, food will be individually –packed, and stimuli will not be shared by the respondents. Waivers will also be signed by all participants regarding the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 with extensive discussions happening between the facilities and their lawyers. Given the well thought out measures they have all put in place, I feel confident that I’ll be back in the moderator’s seat before the end of the year.

There are limitations

It will be a long time before the moderator will be able to look in the holding pen (my colloquialism for the waiting room) and see the respondents for a multitude of groups all gathered together sharing a sandwich tray waiting for the start of their 6 p.m. group. You won’t see ten people around a table passing around your stimuli anytime soon. One panelist had a great story about a moderator conducting IDIs over Zoom with the respondent in the room. No sharing of the air, but it did give me that impression of some sci-fi film where the good guy is grilled by a computer screen. The plus, less travel. And less exposure to COVID-19.

Schedules and flexibility

The important thing to realize is that each facility is different, so the conditions under which you will do your in-person group will be different in each market. You won’t be able to tell the facility at what time you want to have your groups; they will likely tell you, based on who else they have conducting research on the same day. You won’t tell them that you want ten people around the table; they will likely tell you what your limit must be. And it will be different for each location, so you will have to be flexible to be successful. There might not be any consistency across the markets where you conduct research, which is something you will have to live with. It won’t be negotiable.

Call ahead and discuss your project with the facility during the bidding process. We are so used to getting our way, that we have often simply sent out our specs and taken the estimate. If we argued, it would only be to get a small reduction. Only in cases where the design required some unique situation at the facility would we check to see if they could accommodate. It won’t work like that anymore. You have to talk to them about your needs. You have to be flexible when they can’t meet those needs due to the constraints of their procedures. There won’t be a lot of wiggle room. The stakes are far too high for the facility. Like the rest of the economy, if someone gets sick at the facility, the whole thing will shut down. They can’t afford to shut back down—and neither can the rest of the industry.

Impact on participation and costs

For the most part, the panelists didn’t discuss costs. But the conversation made it pretty obvious that they are eating a lot of these new costs in order to open again. Participation does not seem to be adversely affected, as many of the respondents have time and availability due to being at home. Response rates may change as markets open up after COVID-19; at this point there is no way to know how much.

Conclusion

I was happy to hear that facilities don’t believe in-person qualitative research is our past. And that makes sense; some projects just have to be in-person. When the stimulus can’t get out or when taste testing is involved, it’s going to be in-person. It’s good to know that the facilities are working hard to make groups a reality sooner rather than later. Maryse Hudon from Quebec left the clearest closing comment for this article in the Q&A: “This has been so helpful to identify all the issues involved and the complexity of finding the ideal solution. Thank you so much for a much-needed discussion.”

About the Author: Chris Hauck, HauckEye

For more than 30 years, Chris Hauck has honed his research skills across a wide variety of categories - from telecom and IT to consumer-packaged goods, hospitality, medical products and consulting. Chris has an BBA and MBA from Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth TX and currently lives in Longmont Colorado. Chris is currently president of his own company dedicated to experiential research, HauckEye.

 

Tags:  In-person research  market research  QRCA Digest  qualitative  qualitative research  remote market research  research methodology 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: FG BnB!

Posted By Brooke Bower, Thursday, May 21, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: FG BnB!

Presenters: Abby Leafe, New Leafe Research and Laurie Tema-Lyn, Practical Imagination Enterprises

Summary

At the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference, presenters Abby Leafe and Laurie Tema-Lyn asked all of us “What happens when you bring the sharing economy to the world of research?” Turns out, a lot of exciting things! Throughout the session, Abby and Laurie creatively (and practically!) presented how we can use alternative venues for conducting qualitative research such as AirBnB and Peerspace and how to ensure that a project is a success once the right space is identified.

The engaging session provided real world instances of this method. Both Abby and Laurie utilized their own experiences using unique spaces to conduct qualitative research throughout, including an instance where an LA mansion proved to be the ideal setting for three days of focus groups and client innovation sessions for a start-up client on a budget, leading to development of a pipeline of new product ideas, some of which are now in the marketplace. As they pointed out, not everything is sunshine and roses when utilizing these spaces. Both Abby and Laurie highlighted some hard-earned learnings about how to avoid problems and ensure our sanity when working in a new space that may not be set up for our research.

Key Takeaways

Non-traditional locations can be great for the right project. The project should have a very specific reason for choosing a non-traditional venue and all logistics associated with the venue need to be explored and planned for. The general elements to consider include:

  • How to get there: for clients, respondents, and the researchers.
  • Comfort: what is needed to make the research comfortable and is there enough privacy for the structure of the research.
  • Technology needed: can be the biggest factor to consider.
  • Budget: sometimes non-traditional locations can be a cost saver, but researchers must think through everything you need to bring that might be in a traditional facility,  i.e. multiple types of creamer, buying easels/office supplies, bringing in snacks and meals, staffing the location to have a facility manager.
  • The intangibles: the ambiance fit for the project, your gut feeling.

If all of these are considered and it is a fit for the project, the right place can help stimulate creativity and engage the mind in different activities, communicating to clients and respondents it is not business as usual!

A key tip from both Abby and Laurie was to thoroughly prepare the clients and respondents for the venue. Overcommunicate about it. Write a letter to the respondents introducing yourself as the moderator, telling them about the purpose of the research and why it is being held in the non-traditional location, and how to get there with special parking instructions.

Aha Moment

The fun, non-traditional location can strengthen the depth of your connection with your client as it takes you out of the standard business setting (i.e. debriefing in a luxury LA mansion by the pool after the respondents have left!). This presentation really broadened my mind and encouraged me to think more creatively when I am looking for research venues!

Final Comments

The topic of this presentation was creative and provided fresh ideas to re-energize research projects!

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Brooke Bower, Independent Research Consultant

Tags:  focus groups  human behavior  Humanizing Research  market research  marketing research  mobile research  Moderating  outreach  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Methodologies  Research Methodologies  research methodology 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Street Research: Learning from Humans at the Intersection of Authenticity and Insights

Posted By Aimee Caffrey, Thursday, May 14, 2020
Updated: Thursday, May 14, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Street Research: Learning from Humans at the Intersection of Authenticity and Insights

Presenters: Kelly Heatly, Heatly Custom Research, LLC and Jill Matthews, Bright Cactus, LLC

Summary

In the session on Street Research at the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference, Kelly Heatly and Jill Matthews introduced place-based or street research. Discussion centered around effective applications for place-based research and best practices for successful execution, including low- and high-tech tools for on-site data collection and analysis/reporting. Utilizing a series of case study examples, Kelly and Jill demonstrated the unique value of its inclusion in the qualitative researcher’s toolkit.

Key Takeaways

With applications ranging from understanding the consumer purchase journey or shopper experience to visual merchandising, signage testing, sensory testing, or simply meeting hard-to-reach participants where they are, street research is about identifying opportunities to capture meaningful customer feedback in the moments that matter. Some key points I took away from this engaging and informative presentation are:

  • Street research is often one of three types:
  • Live, interactive, in-person (the most traditional)
  • Synchronous, tech-mediated (virtual moderation via video conferencing software or a research-specific platform while a participant is in-store, at the shelf, etc.)
  • Asynchronous, tech-mediated (participation via mobile app or browser).
  • Regardless of whether one is leveraging an in-person approach, a wholly tech-mediated approach, or something in-between, it is crucial to plan with the end in mind and align with your client as early as possible on the following:
  • Objectives
  • Participation/responsibilities in the field
  • Reporting and deliverables
  • Timing
  • Inclusion and quality of video recording
  • While traditional, in-person research is often the most logistically complicated, each approach requires deliberate design and preparation. This entails thinking carefully about where the research will/should unfold, relevant legalities, issues of permission and recruitment, staffing on-site, and technological preparedness (e.g. packing chargers, having a plan for storing videos, etc.). Entertaining as many “what if’s” as possible and devising contingency plans accordingly is essential.
  • When it comes to in-person research with pre-recruited participants, clearly communicate an exact meeting place and, for any in-person street research, always dress appropriately for the environment.
  • Successful street researchers accept that the chaos of the real world is a double-edged sword. It can serve as both the greatest evidence of authenticity and the greatest interference to the best-laid research plans. Remaining flexible and prepared to improvise can mean the difference between being thwarted by the unexpected and using it to propel one toward meaningful insights.

Aha Moment

#1: Having participants wear Snapchat Spectacles to collect in-the-moment data?! LOVE it!

#2 Reminder: Always consider local laws around capturing video/photo without permission.

Final Comments

In addition to helping me think through some of the fundamental considerations to be made when conducting street research, Kelly and Jill offered some great tips on the fly that I will definitely keep in mind the next time I’m involved in or supporting this kind of research! These include having a pre-paid phone just for research purposes (e.g. calling/texting with participants) and finding simple but meaningful ways (e.g. bring in a box of donuts!) to build rapport with front-line staff whose work the research may be disrupting.

As expected, an informative and fascinating presentation by two inspiring Quallies. Thank you, Kelly Heatly and Jill Matthews!

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Aimee Caffrey, Bain & Company, Inc.

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Reporter on the Scene  Research technology  Research Methodologies  research methodology 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: WhatsApp, the Front Row Seat to Consumer Engagement

Posted By Allyson Sovinsky, Thursday, May 7, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: WhatsApp, the Front Row Seat to Consumer Engagement

Presenter: Mpho Mpofu, Masutane Consulting Services

Summary

With an eager desire to connect with, feel and understand the lives of consumers in South Africa, Mpho Mpofu set out to find a way to gain a front row seat to their world. In a county confronted with a host of limitations – low levels of education, unstable connectivity, limited access to and use of computers, the intimidation of technology, high cost of data, and language barriers – “traditional methods” of conducting qualitative research would prove to be unviable. So, what was the answer? WhatsApp.

Her quest led her to a platform that would offer a multidimensional but non-intrusive lens to consumers’ lives using text, audio and video connections. WhatsApp has become the preferred form of communication in emerging markets around the world with individuals using it on a daily basis to share all the different moments of their lives. Compared to traditional research platforms, this is something these consumers already relate to, making them feel comfortable and in control, setting the stage for a greater willingness to share. WhatsApp is an agile, intimate and affordable method that allows us to be a part of a consumer’s day from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed. It allows us to experience in real-time the influences and circumstances that shape their decision-making, capture consumer emotion and provide a degree of anonymity for consumers. While it is limited to exploratory research, it offers a greater geographic reach and remote engagement capabilities for unlimited insight gathering.

Key Takeaways

In order to step inside the lives of humans around the world, we must leverage the familiarity and relevance of the current methods they are using to engage in their everyday lives. WhatsApp is always there, especially when computers are not. It’s not without its limitations, but it is a step in the right direction in our efforts to keep qual human and engage with our responds in their own context.

In a time where unique ways of doing research are becoming more relevant, WhatsApp is a current, agile, familiar and affordable method of research that we should all be adding to our repertoire of methodologies.

Aha Moment

What I learned in Mpho Mpofu's session has opened my eyes to the world of possibilities that are out there for qualitative research. I will keep the WhatsApp method in mind, as well as search for others, for when we need familiar, accessible and affordable means of reaching key consumer targets. While we don't do a ton of global research currently within my company, this method may open doors to making it more possible than ever.

In the world of qualitative research, we don't have to be confined to the people or places we can reach in person. With advancement in technology, we can get to the places we never thought we could reach.

Final Comments

In our quest to keep qual human, we must make take conscious efforts to meet people in their own context, in the depths of their world, in their everyday moments. WhatsApp is just one of many tools that we can use to reach the places we never thought possible.


QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Allyson Sovinsky, MarketVision Research

Tags:  Market Research Technology  marketing research  marketing technology  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Research Methodologies  research methodology  technology solutions 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: 2020 Qually Award Final Presentations

Posted By Rodrigo dos Reis, Thursday, April 16, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: 2020 Qually Award Final Presentations

Finalist Presenters:

Barb Paszyn and Mike D’Abramo, Sklar Wilton & Associates

Jillian Domin and Leah Lowe, Hypothesis Group

Maria Virobik, ResearchScribe

Summary of Conference Session

Since 2011, QRCA has found a way to honor fellow creative problem solvers with a unique industry award affectionately known as the “Qually” Award. At the 2020 Annual Conference all in attendance had the excellent chance to hear from the finalists for the 2020 Qually Award.

Centered on the theme of alleviating traffic congestion in the world’s busiest cities, the three presenting groups presented three great takes on how qualitative practices can be leveraged to improve quality of life for many while overcoming stakeholder barriers and ultimately generating behavioural change. This session gave all attendees great perspectives and tools that they can utilize in their own practice.

Key Session Takeaways

While there were many takeaways from the three sessions, some of the key highlights for me included:

  • Technology, even hardware, as a better way to connect clients to consumer needs and real pain point.
  • Find the real decision makers and understand real world solutions and barriers so premature death of ideas can be prevented.
  • Exploring big ideas like luxury on a conceptual level so they can be leveraged to me more enticing.
  • Mixing demographic, behavioural and attitudinal segmentation — a complex combination of barriers calls for a more thorough approach.
  • Leveraging longer term data collection through communities so participants have time to reflect on the subject after repeated experiences, giving them second and third chances to provide further insight.

I personally liked how utilizing recent technology (but hardware rather than a new platform) was considered as a better way to connect clients to consumer needs and real pain points.

One of the presentations highlighted how important it can be to involve the real decision makers and specialists and having an in-depth, technical perspective of what has been tried and what can really be done in order to avoid ideas being killed too early on. I also enjoyed the idea of exploring wide concepts like luxury, so they can be leveraged to be more enticing for those interacting with future products and services and drive how these will be designed.

For complex subjects with a lot of nuance, it's a great idea to mix demographic, behavioural and attitudinal subgroups — a more thorough approach can cover more particular pain points more effectively. For some issues, it's a great idea to leverage longer term data collection through communities so participants have time to reflect on the subject after repeated experiences, so they potentially offer more insight.

Putting it into Practice

While the presenters were competing for the Qually Award, their takeaways were key and had me thinking about how I can elevate my own qualitative practice. I intend to combine more of my own experience with consumers' — simultaneous ethnographic and observation. I value the approach one presenter took of taking longer on data collection for subjects involving repeating, daily experiences so participants have longer to reflect. This was also the most relevant use of 360 cameras applied to qual I have seen until now.

Aha Moment

There were many “aha moments” throughout the presentations, but my favorite was that a great way to immerse clients in the user's context is using 360 cameras through the commuting journey.

Final Comments

All three presentations were great in their own ways and each had a fresh perspective for taking on the transit issue. I appreciate all the time each group took to put together their presentations. I can’t wait to see what the 2021 Qually Award challenge is!

Read more about the Qually Awards: https://www.qrca.org/page/qually_award

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Rodrigo dos Reis, Zeitgeist

Tags:  market research  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Methods  Qually Award  Qually Award Winners  research methodology 

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Deep Listening: 10 ways to strengthen connection while social distancing

Posted By Marta Villanueva, Friday, April 10, 2020

Deep Listening: 10 ways to strengthen connection while social distancing

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Standing on a busy corner in Los Angeles with a “free listening” sign was a humbling experience. This was not an experiment in rejection—though I experienced much of that. It was an experiment to engage in conversation with perfect strangers on the street with no other goal than to listen deeply. This required stretching my listening muscles into uncertainty and ambiguity.

This experiment was led by Urban Confessional as part of a QRCA Conference. I have conducted thousands of sessions as a qualitative researcher, which have made me an expert at listening and asking thoughtful questions. My frequent “free listening” via phone or video call to meet the global need for connection these past weeks has further flexed my listening muscles.

COVID-19 has caused a collision of our business and personal worlds in myriad ways. The slurry of emotions being stirred up by this crisis is spilling over into our work. Deep listening on the job is now more important than ever, because our emotions carry a powerful weight. Left unchecked, they can negatively impact our interactions. Compound that with social distancing and we find ourselves in a situation ripe for negativity.

  1. The Good News: Deep Listening Can Overcome the Negative Impact of Social Distancing
    Overcoming the hardships of social distancing requires deliberate connection with those around us. Deep listening can form a bridge to compassion and empathy—much needed gifts in our current reality. Communication with those around you must reflect an understanding which stems from deep listening. This is especially critical for anyone in a leadership role.

  2. The Hurdle: Deep Listening Doesn’t Just Happen; It Requires You to Deliberately Follow a Set of Key Steps
    The following guidelines will provide direction to strengthen your relationships through the practice of deep listening, especially while social distancing.

  3. Bring awareness to the situation.
    Check in with yourself before engaging in deep listening and throughout the conversation. Acknowledge and process any biases toward the person or situation; writing them down can be helpful. Bring awareness to these biases and focus on releasing them as best you can. Ensure you are not engaging in deep listening with the goal of fixing the person’s situation. Focus only on authentic listening.

  4. Set the stage for listening.
    Put aside any distractions. Pretend this conversation is the only thing happening in the whole world. That is how intentional you need to be. Check your body language, even if your listening is on the phone. Your body language can impact your engagement level. When the person can see you, your body language needs to communicate support, encouragement, and active listening. Set your intention for deep listening. Are you listening to connect, understand, or for a different purpose? Decide and commit to staying with that intention.

  5. Monitor your listening.
    Be intentional in regarding the other person’s experience over your own. If your mind starts to wander, redirect it. This can be done with a clarifying question (“How did that make you feel?” “What else is going on?”) or through the use of supportive body language (nodding, eye contact).

  6. Explore and clarify.
    Your questions need to be open and free from judgment. Sometimes a simple, “Say more about that” can be enough to achieve full understanding. Clarifying questions seek to authentically understand further. Make sure that what you are taking in matches what they are saying. Your clarifying questions will help you understand the situation deeply.

  7. Allow space for full-out venting.
    After the person has finished talking, you want to make sure they got everything out that needed to be said. Ask: “Is there anything else?” If there is, you need to go back to listening while deferring judgment. Continue asking if there is anything else until the answer is “no;” you can use this as an indicator to turn your focus to the emotion.

  8. Uncover the emotion.
    To gain complete understanding, you need to get at the emotion behind the situation. Ask: “How does this make you feel?” Once the emotion is expressed, your job is to validate it. Suppose the emotion expressed is sadness; you need to think about a situation that elicited the same emotion (a shared situation is the most impactful). Ask: “Is the sadness you feel similar to the time your son broke his ankle or closer to when you were taken off the new business project?” “On a scale of 1 to 10, how sad do you feel?” “What color would you associate with your sadness?” Ask exploratory questions until you truly understand the emotion associated with the situation. This step is key in not only validating the emotion, but also ensuring the person feels completely heard.

  9. Be open to silence.
    While deep listening, you will talk less and listen more. Pauses may seem interminably long. You may feel uncomfortable, awkward, or even like you want to run. Stay with it. Honor the person by holding yourself in deep listening mode. Search their body language for cues when it is OK to talk or listen for the pauses.

  10. Lead with empathy.
    Show the person you are listening, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing. Stay focused on “seeing” the person’s heart. Allowing them the opportunity to have their say without judgment communicates acceptance. And don’t we all need to feel real acceptance right now?

Employ deep listening to connect with those around you. Wherever you may find yourself, people desperately need deep listening. We are all going through a very difficult situation. Nobody is immune. Companies/teams/colleagues/parents all need to be sensitive to the unique needs emerging during this time. If someone shares something that requires professional support, help them find the right resource.

Deep listening will strengthen your relationships when they need a little bolstering. If you need help in implementing these best practices or could use some “free listening,” please reach out. We can all help each other emerge stronger from this pandemic.

 

Marta Villanueva is a Bicultural/Bilingual qualitative researcher/strategist with experience across categories and methodologies (online, in-person, telephone). She has a M.Sc. in Creativity and Change Leadership which adds a rich dimension to every engagement. Marta is the co-chair for the 2021 QRCA conference and the QRCA 2015 Maryanne Pflug Award Winner.

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

www.nuthinking.net

@nuthinkinginc

 

Tags:  communication  human behavior  Humanizing Research  humans  market research  marketing research  mobile research  outreach  qualitative  qualitative market research  qualitative research  research methodology 

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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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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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Qual or Quant? Choosing the best method for your research study

Posted By Jennifer Dale, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Qual or Quant? Choosing the best method for your research study

Quantitative and qualitative research are both scientific methods for data collection and analysis. They can be applied alone, or in combination, to maximize insights.

The Basic Difference: Going Beyond What vs. Why

QUANT

Quantitative research relies on large sample sizes to collect numerical data that can be mathematically analyzed for statistically significantfindings. Surveys are structured, questions are typically closed-ended, and answer choices are fixed. However, quantitative research may also include a limited number of short-answer open-ended questions to help clarify why people responded the way they did to a closed-ended question. Eye tracking, facial coding, and even Big Data fall under the umbrella of quantitative research, with computers analyzing enormous volumes of data incredibly fast.

Quantitative studies produce numerical data, which allows for statistical analysis and ultimately precise findings. The US Census is a great example of a quantitative research study – fixed and close-ended questions, an enormous sample size, a collective review of many respondents, and measured population segments.

QUAL

In contrast, qualitative research seeks to understand the reasons behind the numbers, as well as what is not yet known. Sample sizes are smaller, questions are unstructured, and results more subjective. Unlike quantitative research, qualitative studies insert the researcher into the data collection process. The researcher probes responses and participants provide more detail. Qualitative data is collected through interviews, group discussions, diaries, personal observations, and a variety of other creative and ever-expanding means.

Qual studies work with textual and visual data, interpreted and analyzed for directional findings. Qualitative research studies include fluid and open-ended questions, a smaller sample size, an in-depth review of each respondent, and emerging themes.

 

I like to think of the difference visually, where a quant study collects specific data from a large number of people, and a qual study goes deeper to collect greater insights from a small number of people.

How to Choose

The answer to whether you proceed with quantitative or qualitative research lies in your research objective and available resources.

  • Why you’re doing the research
  • What you need to know
  • Your budget, staff, + schedule
  • How the findings will be used

Consider these possible scenarios the next time you’re stuck and don’t know which way to go:

Quant + qual can come together in other ways. A questionnaire with open-ended questions, while ultimately coded numerically, can offer a window into the unknown. Focus groups that also include poll questions or surveys can produce hard data when analyzed in total, even if the results are not statistically significant.

With good planning, quantitative and qualitative research come together like a dance, guiding the marketer’s success with every step.

I Say Hybrid, You Say Multimethod

Combining quantitative and qualitative research approaches is an ancient strategy, but the names continue to change with the times. I did a bit of research and found the following terms being used to describe that ideal combination of quantitative and qualitative research. What term do you use? And why? ;)

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Dale, President + CEO Inside Heads, is a seasoned marketing professional and pioneer in online market research. Her passion for marketing, human behavior, and technology keep InsideHeads on the short list of research providers for some of the world’s most discriminating clients. Jennifer is co-author of Qual-Online, The Essential Guide and has published a number of articles in VIEWS, Alert! and Quirk’s Marketing Research Review.

 

Tags:  QRCA Digest  qualitative  qualitative research  quantitative  research methodologies  research methodology 

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