By: Selicia Sanchez-Adame, Round Rock Chamber Board of Directors
With COVID-19 affecting us all so personally and professionally, it’s difficult to imagine the eventual return to business as usual – probably because it won’t be a return to business as usual, but business under new rules that are being written and rewritten every day. Until then, being adaptable and embracing new ideas is critical to our businesses reaching the other side of this current environment still intact.
My company, Think Group, has certainly felt the impact of COVID-19 on our business. While we aren’t retail or hospitality, our business is still heavily dependent on face-to-face interaction. We offer full-service research solutions, and a significant part of our business is recruiting participants to come onsite to our facilities for in-person projects like focus group discussions and one-on-one interviews.
We have clients and consumers meeting face-to-face in our facility every day, and that is not happening these days. That’s too bad, because qualitative research is a critical step in deeply understanding why consumers and businesses do what they do – the rationale behind the actions.
Fortunately, another part of our business is recruiting participants to conduct qualitative research through online boards. By utilizing online research, we can still deliver deep insights to our clients without the need to be physically present. While there is no substitute for seeing participants interact with your products and services, there are benefits for conducting qualitative research online, including:
- Broader geography. Let’s say you wanted to talk to a group of CFOs in manufacturing about a new inventory software solution. Recruiting eight of them for an in-person focus group is a difficult task. With online boards, we can recruit across North America.
- More convenient. An in-person focus group is typically two hours in length. An online board may be open three to four days, though we require about one hour of their time dedicated to the board and tasks. Participants can log in at times that best suits their schedules.
- Exposure to any type of stimuli, including websites. Participants can be asked to conduct tasks – like upload pictures or videos of their kitchen, workspace, etc.
- Thoughtful versus spontaneous response. Some participants need the time to consider and edit their responses, and you get so much more information from each participant in this type forum.
For now, our physical rooms stand empty, but our virtual rooms continue to help clients answer their brand, product, and marketing questions. There will always be a place for in-person face-to-face interaction, but we are leveraging technology to respond to client needs. What technologies can you embrace that would change how you deliver your services to clients?