Archive for the ‘Qualitative General’ Category



The Importance of Conversational Intimacy for Qualitative Insight

Posted on: November 29th, 2017 by doyle


From the desk of Carole Schmidt

Observations and insights are not the same thing. Observations provide us with behavioral thematic “buckets” of potentially meaningful fodder. Observations can be visual, auditory, tactile, and even latent in form, e.g., witnessing compensating behaviors.  Envision multiple customers each unconsciously biting open a package and spilling the contents because they didn’t understand they were holding the packaging upside down.

Genuine insights, on the other hand, don’t roll off the customer’s tongue. Insights emerge from thoughtful review, deep analysis, creativity, and persistence.  We love supporting brand teams by discovering those underlying, emotion- and value-driven motivations and barriers, those personal, deep-seated beliefs that consciously—or, more often, subconsciously–influence customers’ decision-making. Where do her confused beliefs about hygiene come from? Why is he so focused on fuel economy? What makes the association with “professional” so compelling in this category? Why doesn’t she trust our brand like she does our competitor’s?

Just like the developing romance of a couple, you can’t get a full sense of either partner’s underlying motives from simply observing them or reading texts. Insights are realized by creating an environment conducive to intimate conversation with the customer–whether at home, in the car, or on the worksite. Then, the participant has to be nurtured, sensitively guided using active listening and precise, skilled probing. This tango of comfort and trust is essential for a rich and revealing exchange.

So, how do you achieve conversational intimacy in qualitative research?

Champion the value of quality time with your customer. Latent beliefs, perceptions, and values do not surface in 20 minutes, nor on a mobile survey. The “why’s” that exist below-the-surface require hours with each participant to explore for underlying emotions and covert beliefs. Yes, it’s labor intensive, but there is good news: all of that time doesn’t have to come in the form of a single long interview.

  • Best practice: Implement a series of three touchpoints with each participant, to encourage a speedier development of a moderator-participant partnership. Three touchpoints can provide a surprising level of comfort to the participant because of the accumulated familiarity and trust with the moderator, leading to evocative dialogue.
    1. Conduct a 10 to15 minute pre-call for introductions, Q&A, establishing legitimacy, setting expectations, and calming fears
    2. Assign the participant a brief but relevant activity, then discuss it together by phone before the home interview
    3. Conduct the main interview at home (whether online or in person) at the easiest time of day for the participant (often mid evening), which further makes the conversation feel like old friends reconnecting.

Avoid the fishbowl. Just because research participants may permit a 4-5 person research team to come inside and chat doesn’t mean we should. Could you share your cleaning idiosyncrasies, the struggles in your family relationships, or bare your honest financial picture for buying a new car–with 4 to 5 faces staring at you? Social anxiety may not always be visible to the research team excited to see “real customers,” but we certainly can tell when it blocks intimacy and inhibits emotionally charged conversation.

  • Best practice: Research has shown that respondents feel most accepted, flaws and all, when engaged in one-on-one conversations. We suggest including only those members of the research team who are truly vested in the customer’s experience. We also suggest that you limit viewers at each interview–to one team member. Simply rotate team members across interviews. We’ll optimize that team member’s role so they’ll blend into the background enabling intimacy to bloom. As the only viewer, your team member will be fully engrossed as the sole interview witness, keener to identifying insight territories as they surface.

Surrender to the quiet. Closeness is the ability to let down the inner barriers that allow the moderator and viewer to see the customer as s/he truly is. When you feel close to another person, you don’t mind if that person sees you without your normal defenses—psychological and otherwise. This is where meaningful insights are born. According to the developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, “even the most autonomous of individuals needs the kind of human contact that intimacy can bring.” This intimacy sometimes calls for patience and silent, contemplative moments that lead to participants exposing important emotional vulnerabilities. These silences feel unfamiliar and even uncomfortable to some team observers, who tend to fill these audible vacuums with the impediment of small talk.

  • Best practice: We are trained to communicate positively in an intimate relationship by being both active and empathic in probing our participants’ experiences. But we also practice being comfortable with silence. This is important for in depth exploration. For example, we may encourage a participant to wander into another room as s/he thinks about a particular query before answering. We find that many times, that momentary “silence” causes a participant to return to the discussion “dance” with an even richer, more revealing story to tell!

Strategize the seating. We request in our pre-talk conversations with participants that our chats and meetings occur from the most physically-comfortable hang-out spots at home, leveraging what already makes our participant feel relaxed and naturally contributory.

  • Best practice: Encourage participants to sit where they typically do. Create an “intimacy triangle” by sitting 90-degrees from the participant, with the observer at the far end of the triangle, observing from afar. This encourages one-on-one dialogue with the moderator, allowing the team observer to discreetly take notes or photos.

As your moderator, it is my job to carefully guide conversation with skilled, active listening and gentle probing. Your commitment to an environment of intimacy will optimize the participant’s psychological comfort and trust, making the qualitative exchange ever more productive and valuable, money well spent.

We can see clearly now! Tips and tricks for making the most of your qualitative webcam interview.

Posted on: October 26th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Natanya Rubin

Qualitative webcam interviews are an exciting opportunity to see a respondent in her native habitat, but there are plenty of tech pitfalls that can make that time less rewarding.  Here are some of the best practices that we and our platform partners employ to make sure the interview goes well:

The tech check is key.  We always recommend scheduling a live tech check prior to the interview, rather than relying on the respondent to complete an automated one.  This allows a technician to connect personally with the respondent to test bandwidth in the area where the respondent will do the interview, work with them to confirm that their audio functions well, and help them adjust their lighting (see below for more on both topics).

Separate audio and video allows for flexibility, should something go wrong.  Although advances in VOIP stability and clarity make it tempting to have both video and audio run through the respondent’s computer, we recommend that the audio for the qualitative interview be done through the respondent’s phone line.  That way, if the respondent’s internet is spotty and happens to go down during the interview (which sometimes happens despite best efforts to vet bandwidth in advance), the interview can still be salvaged using the separate audio.  During the tech check, we also instruct respondents to make sure their phones are charged and that the power cord is within reach, to ensure that there are no interruptions to the audio.

Lighting is a make or break proposition.  Ensuring good lighting is critical to the success of a qualitative webcam interview.  If the respondent is just a dark, backlit mass, it’s hard to read emotion or see details of their space.  During the tech check, we often help respondents adjust their lighting set-up by asking them to grab a desk or table lamp to get light on their faces, while closing drapes or turning off the lights behind them so they’re not silhouetted.  Then, on the day of the interview, they’re ready to be seen!

By preparing the respondent for the interview through a live tech check, separating audio and video as a safety net against bandwidth issues, and guiding the respondent to be sure they can be seen on-screen, Doyle Research ensures that each qualitative webcam interview is both technically seamless and rich in insights.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Reasons Why Mobile Qualitative Should Be Part of Your Research Arsenal

Posted on: October 19th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

Mobile qualitative has been a viable method for over 10 years.  But as the technology has improved so have the possibilities.   If you haven’t considered mobile research—or considered it recently — I’d like to give you three reasons why you should:

The Ubiquity of Smartphones

According to a Pew Research study, 77% of Americans now own a smartphone, and among Millennials that number climbs to 92%.   People consider their phone a natural extension of themselves, and rarely if ever leave home without it.   Mobile methods capitalize on the fact that we are not asking respondents to do anything unnatural or unfamiliar.   It’s become a selfie culture, and many smartphone users already obsessively record every moment of their lives.  So why not consider harnessing this behavior to better understand your customer?    Short of moving in with them, you can’t get better access!

Behaviors In-the-Moment and On-the-Go

Mobile research provides an unprecedented opportunity to observe and capture behaviors when they are naturally occurring– in-home, in-store, in-car, or anywhere else.   Not because we asked them to do something and report back to us, but because they were authentically doing it in their own time for their own reasons.

For one of our clients, we intercepted potential respondents as they entered a geo-fenced location–in this case, a car dealership– and invited them to participate in a phone interview immediately following their visit with the goal of understanding and enhancing the consumer experience.   As you can imagine, the level of detail and emotion as they reported on their experiences was far greater by talking to them in-the-moment than it would’ve been had we asked them the same questions six weeks later.

Behaviors Over Time

With in-person ethnography we usually observe behaviors at a single point in time, primarily for practical reasons.   While there is no substitute for spending time with your customer, and seeing their lives in context, mobile ethnography gives researchers the ability to capture behaviors as they occur over time.   This allows us to pinpoint patterns and triggers that often do not surface in a single visit.    A good compromise is to conduct a hybrid study:  an initial visit with the respondent in-person, followed by a mobile assignment over time.

Imagine asking a respondent to keep a week long mobile journal to “show and tell” each moment related to making daily dinner decisions:  the planning (what triggers a dinner decision), shopping (use a list?  make an impulse purchase?  shop a sale?); preparing (challenges); serving (what “makes” the meal); and even daily self-reflections (wouldn’t it be great if…).    How much richer the insights would be than asking a respondent to recall this information in a traditional research setting.

If these are not reasons enough to consider incorporating mobile into your research plans, here are three more.   When participating via mobile, respondents:

  • Are less apt to censor or filter their opinions and actions because of a sense of anonymity
  • Can be less self-conscious than when a moderator is present
  • Can complete assignments anywhere, at any time of day (and can receive text alerts to remind them to do so)

Want to learn more?    Download our free eBook on mobile research.

And if you’d like to discuss whether your research objectives could be addressed utilizing a mobile method, email me at kdoyle@doyleresearch.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE…8 easy ways to get closer to your customer on a tiny budget, or less!

Posted on: October 2nd, 2017 by doyle

 

From the desk of Carole Schmidt

Steve Jobs famously quipped: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need, well before they realize it themselves.”  

We understand that budgets are tight and time is pressured. When full research projects aren’t in the mix, here are 8 underutilized ways to engage with your customer for depth and breadth and possibly your next “big idea”:

  1. Do the CX “presearch”/ Observe your customer in situ, where decisions are made. Get out of the office. Ask 3 customers if you can shadow them for one morning each. Whether it’s a business customer who owns a busy distribution center, or a single dad juggling his job, the kids, the shopping and the transport for his husband, or a construction worker on the site, most people are happy to have you walk in their shoes if you just ask. Take pictures. Take notes. Pin them up in front of you.
  2. Check the mail / Read unsolicited customer emails, letters, contact comments. There is a wealth of product or service refinement opportunities over in the PR department, underutilized by insights teams. Tap into this rich resource. Then move it to your department. Then post it on your walls.
  3. Explore the buzz / Conduct qualitative social media analysis of your customers’ category, brands, competitors to see what’s being said behind the trendlines. It’s not expensive, and there’s likely to be a trove of fodder there. (See http://doyleresearch.com/digging-behind-social-media-trendlines-matters/)
  4. See it to believe it / Ask for customer-generated video: Everyone’s carrying a smartphone these days, making your customers’ experience—including those small annoyances or pesky tasks–easier than ever to capture in the moment. Ask your customers to do a 30-second video about…insert topic (complaint, excitement, process need, etc.)…and have them send it to you. Today. Then watch it. Have 20+ of those? We’ll watch them and tell you what they mean and what you might do about it!
  5. What you already know may help you—again! / Discover new insights from old research using Meta Analysis! If you have research reports less than two years old, get some coffee and settle in to read them again, cover to cover. Have dozens? We’ll help you tap your customer’s voice by reviewing your existing research with fresh eyes and a different objective, so you get more out of the research dollars you’re already spending. Bosses love the efficiency, and you will love the “aha’s” buried inside.
  6. Become your competitors’ good customer. / Conduct the intelligence for smarter business decisions. Eat their pizza. Install their app. Test drive or rent their cars. Open an account at their online store. Understanding your competitors’ CX instantly makes you sharper about what distinction and benefits you should be promoting, and what refinements you should be considering.
  7. Ask for specifics. / Pay for more open ends and analysis on your customer satisfaction surveys. Then personally read the responses so you can hear the ideas, but also gauge the more subtle tone and feel and particular language your customer uses.
  8. Invite ideas and suggestions. / Create a formal channel or forum for customers to share ideas and creativity. Then reward them for it to keep the pipeline full! Whether its gamification or simply thanking customers with an inexpensive sampling of free product or discounted service, these efforts go a long way to encourage a customer partnership.

What’s on your qualitative wish list? How can Doyle Research do a better job for you?  We welcome your input! cschmidt@doyleresearch.com

 

Craft Beer: Qualitative Insight into Emerging Trends

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Natanya RubinBeer 2

Every year, on the second weekend in August, 6,000 beer enthusiasts gather in Madison, WI, to partake in the Great Taste of the Midwest Brewing Festival (fondly referred to as GTMW).  With close to 200 breweries represented, and over 1,200 beers available to taste, GTMW is one of the premier craft brewing festivals in the country, and for the last ten years, I’ve been lucky enough to attend.

What brings me back year after year?  It’s the opportunity to be among others who share my deep passion for this product—both creating and consuming.  And every year, I get a peek at the emerging trends in craft brewing, trends that are often mirrored in the greater marketplace.

What notable trends were on tap this year?

  • Low ABV beers make a resurgence. After years of craft breweries competing to provide the highest alcohol content per glass, this year’s fest provided a refreshing range of low-alcohol or “session” beers to a somewhat relieved audience.  Light and refreshing pilsners and pale ales harken back to the Midwestern roots of craft brewing, when breweries like Pabst and Coors, now enormous national brands, delivered easy-drinking but full flavored beers to the local populace.
  • Wild flavors tantalize and delight. With an audience increasingly open to palate-challenging flavors (witness the increasing popularity of fermented drinks like kombucha and tangy condiments like kimchi) this year’s fest was rife with wild and sour ales, whose pungent, distinctive and downright funky flavors are starting to challenge prestige favorites like IPAs and barrel-aged stouts in sheer numbers.
  • Boutique brands lend authenticity to their corporate parents. Although GTMW started as a celebration of home brewing, there were a striking number of breweries that have been purchased in recent years by multinational conglomerates.  These well-considered craft breweries have continued to turn out creative beers under the umbrella of much larger corporations.  But in an industry that values individuality, there is a perceptible tension to the question of which companies belong in the craft category.  However, the long lines at the Goose Island booth (purchased in 2011 by Anheuser-Busch InBev) seem to indicate that consumers will, in general, continue to enjoy familiar local brands even after they’ve been acquired by larger entities, echoing movement in the larger market.

The creativity, growth, and surprises to be found at GTMW every year make me confident that I can look forward to many more years of learning, exploring, and of course, tasting!  Cheers!