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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Wandering or Wondering about the Future of Qual: Forging New Paths to Deliver Value in Uncertain Times

Posted By Roben Allong, Lightbeam Communications Corp., Thursday, August 13, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Wandering or Wondering about the Future of Qual: Forging New Paths to Deliver Value in Uncertain Times

Presenters: Randi Stillman, Bottom Line Market Research & Consulting, and Rick Weitzer, Prell Organization


Summary of Conference Session

Examination of key challenges identified through a round of IDIs with various stakeholders that they consider impactful to the future of qual:

  1. New competitors
  2. Client-side bias
  3. New competitors with full range of services
  4. Technology

Key Session Takeaways

The competitive landscape is changing—but qual is not going away. The session identified perceived challenges from various stakeholders including client-side research buyers and non-QRCA quallies, and outlined three key areas of opportunity for quallies to investigate to help them stay abreast of the market, attract new clients, and maintain their practice. These key opportunity areas are:

  1. Sharpen business problem-solving skills—focus more on business objectives and how research insights impact business outcomes.
  2. Lean into agile solutions by creating and experimenting more with mix-and-match hybrid methods to get the best insights efficiently.
  3. Engage in continuing education and elevate ability to demonstrate the value of qualitative research.

How I Will Use this Information in My Practice

Quallies have already begun instituting deliverable practices that report insights more as potential business strategies rather than just “research insights.” We are also engaging clients by advising them on the potential business applications of insights as they come to the surface during debriefs. Researchers are becoming faster, increasingly nimble, and we are always on the lookout for technology that can speed up the data collection and analysis process.

Aha Moment

Clients are under the gun to produce results, beyond insights, especially given the current economic climate. Quallies can help them achieve business goals and remain relevant by evaluating their individual research toolboxes. Looking with new eyes and learning how to optimize existing skillsets and technology can be instrumental to achieving successful outcomes, for both client and qually.

        QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Roben Allong, Lightbeam Communications Corp.

Tags:  business strategies  insights  market research  online research  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  research deliverables  technology 

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Online Chat Focus Groups: A First-Timer’s Perspective

Posted By Cheryl Halpern, Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Online Chat Focus GroupsA First-Timer’s Perspective 

Online Chat Focus Groups: A First-Timer’s Perspective 

First-time experiences are both exhilarating and intimidating. COVID-19 has presented us with the opportunity to add to our toolboxes, either because we recognize the seismic shift to online methodologies, or we simply have more time on our hands.

After attending a QRCA webinar about online chat focus groups, I volunteered to conduct a mock session with other professionals who were interested in seeing the platform in action.  

Methodology Description 

Online chat is similar to in-person focus groups in that targeted respondents are recruited to participate in a moderated discussion at a specific point in time for a set duration (typically 60 – 90 minutes), but different in that engagement is entirely text based. 

Online chats typically involve eight to 20 respondents. The moderator can use a whiteboard to display visuals, and backroom observers can communicate with each other directly and with the moderator through an administrator. The administrator also takes care of technical issues and helps prod participants, if needed.   

Objectives and Target Audience 

For this mock chat, my objectives were to let interested researchers experience the platform firsthand and to provide a fun break in these challenging times. I came up with a list of questions to help us explore “The Lighter Side of Quarantine.” 

All who had expressed an interest in the webinar chat room were invited to attend and could opt to be either a participant or an observer. Participants were given screen names based on the adjective they said best described their current emotional state and what they had eaten most recently. Anxious Turkey, Optimistic Beans and Weary Apple were among the favorites. 

Discussion Guide 

I was advised to allow five minutes for every three questions and planned the guide accordingly, with timed sections and detailed questions under each section. 

Once loaded, the discussion guide appears in sequential blocks on the lower righthand side of the moderator’s screen. Six to eight of these blocks can be seen at one time, and all can be seen by scrolling up and down.  

Screen shots to be used on the whiteboard are labeled and appear in a different scroll on the upper righthand side of the moderator’s screen.  

Preparation 

The platform I used had a practice room that I could enter whenever I wanted. It was pre-programmed with fourteen participants submitting random responses at what has been determined to be the typical pace, which is essentially a bell curve over about 90 seconds after a new question is introduced.  

As with any group discussion, the moderator’s task is to guide the discussion, introduce materials, and probe to elicit deeper insight. With synchronous chat discussions, that translates into three distinct but coordinated tasks: 

  1. Sending questions, either from the pre-loaded discussion guide or by typing freehand. 
  2. Sending visual stimuli to the whiteboard. 
  3. Reading the scrolling discussion and immediately probing responses as needed. 

During practice, I learned that I had the flexibility to send pre-loaded questions in any order or skip them altogether if desired.  

Moderation 

I logged in about fifteen minutes before the session started and watched as fourteen participants and thirteen observers entered. 

At the appointed time, I sent instructions to the group chat one sentence at a time, pacing myself by reading the words aloud – just as participants are reading them for the first time. 

I submitted my first screen shot and question and the frantic fun began! After just a few seconds, answers started popping up, each identified by the screen names that had been assigned.  

While I am accustomed to multi‐tasking in live focus groups, I found it rather challenging to type probes while the chat continued to scroll on the screen during the live discussion. Also, because comments were coming in quickly, any probe on a specific comment requires including the screen name of the individual being addressed. While the participant screen names I derived for this exercise were fun, I realized quickly that shorter user names would have been expedient. 

Another interesting aspect of the chat platform is that responses to one question may keep coming in after a new question has been presented. Each respondent is reading, processing, typing and submitting at a different pace. This has implications for both analysis of the transcript and construction of the discussion guide. The resulting output is not a threaded transcript, but a chronological record. 

Consensus Assessment 

We had a Zoom meeting immediately following the chat so that anyone who was interested could participate in a debrief. Virtually all felt the pace was incredibly fast and wished they had more time to read and process each of the responses individually. Nevertheless, the observers agreed that that although the content was generated quickly, it was surprisingly rich and abundant. 

Tips

From my experience moderating an online chat discussion for the first time, I would offer the following tips for others who want to utilize this tool: 

  1. Engage participants from the outset. Without face-to-face interaction, it is especially important to make the respondents feel welcomed and eager to participate.  
  2. Familiarize yourself with all toggles/options available. I did not realize that I could have done more to optimize the respondents’ screens. 
  3. Use the whiteboard judiciously. Juggling the whiteboard and the discussion guide at the same time probably complicates things unnecessarily for a novice. 
  4. Review your discussion guide with an understanding that responses from one question may spill over into the next on the transcript and arrange questions accordingly. 
  5. To facilitate deep dives on key topics, plan multiple, closely related questions and allow respondents 90 seconds to read and respond to each.   
  6. Include time allocations and screen shot reminders in your programmed discussion guide so that all the cues you’ll need are in one place. 
  7. Partner with a trusted administrator, whether that is a colleague or someone from the platform’s staff. They can run interference in the “backroom” so that you can focus on the respondents. 
  8. Practice! Even a skilled moderator needs to take the time to learn the nuances of a new tool.  

cheryl halpernAbout the Author: Cheryl Halpern

Cheryl has 25+ years of executive level marketing professional experience and is the current President of Halpern Research; formerly VP with Dallas Marketing Group and VP of Global Product Marketing with Mary Kay, Inc. 

Tags:  Actionable  Focus Groups  Insights  Market Research Technology  Online Listening  Online Technology  QRCA Digest 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Cultivating Connection: Helping Decision-Makers Understand the Humans Behind the Data

Posted By Marta Villanueva, Thursday, June 18, 2020
Updated: Thursday, June 18, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Cultivating Connection: Helping Decision-Makers Understand the Humans Behind the Data

Presenter: Cory Davison, 4Xperience


Summary of Conference Session

At the QRCA Annual Conference presenter Cory Davison of 4Xperience asked attendees, “How do you connect the qualitative findings with the decision makers, to further drive action?”.

One of the biggest challenges for qualitative researchers is to deliver insights to the different audiences and promote a common understanding of who the humans are providing input in the research. Driving action makes our research meaningful. Action starts with “humanizing” the data and connecting with the decision-makers who may interpret the research from many different perspectives.

During her presentation and utilizing real case studies, Cory Davison shared a simple framework with 5 steps (Relate, Speak their Language, Understand their Audience, Walk in their Steps, and Focus on the “So What” which can be the bridge to connect consumers and the humans interpreting the data.

Key Session Takeaways

I really enjoyed Cory’s session and had many “takeaways” including the heart of her presentation which was that as qual professionals we need to find a way to relate to clients through stepping into their world and remembering that they deal with varying thoughts, feelings, emotions, just like us. They are deserving of our empathy.

The boardroom dishes out many challenges including shorter attention spans, dealing with big data, many versions of the truth, etc. By remembering that our clients are human like us, we can make presentations interactive, build bridges from an experience perspective, and use tools like the Insights Discovery Tool to understand what clients know, believe, and do can break down barriers to connection.

On the topic of presentations, we need to make sure that as practitioners we are speaking the same “language” in order to connect with our clients. Focus on what matters to them, including the metrics client uses, emphasizing the story the data creates, developing a process map with interval views (product/brand path from beginning to end), and an experience map (showcases what happens when the human factor is involved). Understand their audience and bring it to life through personas. Most importantly, Cory reminded all of us to “be clear about what you know and don’t know”.

Present the data in a way that can be understood. Researchers and qual professionals need to remember that journey maps are different from process maps.

  • Journey maps are about what customers do vs. what a brand wants them to do.
  • Journey maps answer: what does the persona do, think, say, feel? “So what?”

We must direct clients in what to do with the data. The “so what” must include the persona, company, and solution. Coming up with a mantra or agreement statement can aid understanding - something clients can go do. For example, we can use an action phrase to make the connections for clients: "Therefore we recommend/enabled by/ and if we do this…."

Aha Moment

It’s very easy to get caught up in the research and forget that clients are “human” too. This presentation was a great reminder to take the time to understand the client pain points, their stakeholders, and ways to connect with their preferences using a tool like Insights Discovery.

Final Comments

We forget the power behind the creative techniques used with consumers. Our tools can easily be adapted for relationship-building with clients.

Moving forward, I will be adapting my deep dive techniques developed for consumers to connect with clients.

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Marta Villanueva, NuThinking

Tags:  actionable insights  Humanizing Research  Insights  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative  Research Methodologies 

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