Like many industries, the research field has had a difficult 2020. In the midst of a global pandemic, we’re living much of our lives virtually, changing how we interact with people, how we do business, and more. The insights industry has had no choice but to transition to this remote work environment, a shift that has fundamentally altered research processes and workflows.
These remote settings present researchers with a number of challenges. Research budgets likely decreased dramatically — or, in some cases, disappeared entirely — at the start of the pandemic, but clients still expect the same quality results. And although clients and research departments are starting to increase budgets again, the shift to remote work still created many other unknowns to address. For one, virtual research requires tools that some insights professionals haven’t used before. Additionally, the pandemic has introduced new biases to research subjects.
The biggest challenge that the move online creates is the inherent limitations it places on viable research methods. While there are types of research that have been conducted online for years, there are also certain approaches that evaporated overnight. Ethnography, participatory observation, and focus groups are all much more difficult when done remotely. For instance, shop-alongs can’t happen in the same way they were once conducted.
Crucial information like body language is harder — if not impossible — to detect through a camera. When you aren’t in the same room with participants, research can feel impersonal, making it harder to go in-depth. Plus, virtual research leaves participants prone to distraction, whether it’s children running around, packages getting delivered, or any number of other things that happen throughout the day.
These challenges also present researchers with exciting opportunities — new ways of looking at things and conducting research can uncover insights you might have missed otherwise. With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few tips to set yourself up for success when conducting remote research.
Even though this year has introduced many variables into a researcher’s usual equation, clients and stakeholders still want answers — they need insights as quickly as you can get them. In order to ensure a successful outcome for both you and your client, it’s important to understand their objective and set realistic expectations.
Figure out whether you’re conducting the research internally or using a recruiter. If you do choose to go with a recruiter, take a step back and ask yourself if that recruiter is right for the respondents you need. This is where referrals can be quite helpful. Reach out to your peers, let them know what you’re looking for, and see who they’ve had good experiences with.
Finally, when it comes to setting expectations and timelines, it’s important to show some empathy if necessary. These are deeply strange times and everyone is adjusting to constant changes, so being understanding can go a long way.
Remote work has made in-depth interviews a mainstay for most insights professionals. This qualitative method can be conducted over the phone or via video conference, and requires the lightest lift.
Online focus groups are more difficult, but can be useful if executed correctly. An online focus group’s success can depend on a few different factors, including the comfort level of the moderator in that setting and the number of respondents. Here at Rev, our customers have found that cutting your focus group down to triad or a dyad will yield the best results. If a researcher is moderating an online focus group with more than three respondents, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Additionally, the more respondents there are in an online group, the more likely it is that people will get drowned out or distracted.
Is it cliche? Maybe. Probably. But is it true? Absolutely. Making sure you’re comfortable with the tech and performing dry runs of your research will help achieve a successful result. First, decide what technology you’re using, whether it’s Zoom or a research-specific platform with more features. And once you’ve decided on your platform, make sure that whoever is conducting the research knows how to use it inside and out. If the moderator is worried about technical difficulties during a qualitative discussion, it automatically limits their ability to do their job. Plus, any apprehension on the part of the moderator will come through in the discussion and could affect what your respondent says.
This is where demoing the tech and performing dry runs come into play. Setting up two or three practice runs will help ensure that your research goes smoothly, especially if the moderator is unfamiliar with the technology.
You and your client want results fast. You can’t afford setbacks, especially from inconsistent transcription. With a transcription partner like Rev, you can get 99 percent accurate transcripts of all of your qualitative research, giving you the ability to focus more on the core aspects of the process. Instead of frantically taking notes, you can stay engaged in the interview, ask better follow up questions, make note of the truly key insights, and refer to the transcript for the rest. And with Rev’s average turnaround times of 24 hours or less,, researchers can start their analysis and report preparation faster. Plus, those accurate transcripts can be included in the final deliverable for your client or stakeholder.
Rev’s Transcript Editor platform also provides tools for easy collaboration among team members. You can search for particular words or phrases, make necessary changes, and share the transcripts with your team so multiple people can analyze it at once. And integrations with Google Drive, Dropbox, or via API enable researchers to get transcriptions delivered right to those drives without ever uploading to the Rev platform. At a time when research workflows are shifting, a transcription partner can help accelerate your processes for a faster final delivery.
In an effort to make researchers’ lives a little easier, the Rev team has put together our Market Research Toolkit. It’s a care package from us to you, designed to streamline your workflow and make your job a little less stressful. Check it out right here!