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Good and bad respondents in online research -- in search of great conversations

Early in my career I was a product manager. It's a role in which you are a consumer of research. You go to meetings that talk about research results. You see reports that talk about attitudes, needs, and trends. It's easy to forget that behind each assertion of fact, each claim to truth -- there's a conversation.

The conversation is the basis of the research. If it's a good conversation, you find out what you needed to understand and more! If it's a bad conversation, you waste everyone's time and money. The "conversation" takes many forms, depending on the type of research. Some of the most common are:

  • A phone or face-to-face conversation with one person, following a discussion guide
  • An online survey, where the conversation is between your respondent and the questions you've specified in advance
  • A group conversation among peers in a focus group

Then there's the online conversation. Asynchronous. Taking place over days or weeks. Based in text, video and photos. Requiring a different set of verbal and technical skills. For the last ten-plus years, as friends, family, and colleagues have moved their conversations online, the research conversations have been moving online too.

As we discuss in our customer journey mapping ebook, online conversations can be fantastic. They'll never supplant face-to-face entirely, but with the right technology and the right participants they've become an indispensable tool in customer journey mapping and many other applications.

So who are the right participants? We brainstormed at the Phase 5 offices and came up with this.

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In our next post we'll talk about how to get more of the good and less of the bad!


Written by Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen, MBA, is the President of Phase 5 US and the leader of the firm's Data Analytics practice. With almost 2 decades of experience in client-side marketing strategy, market research, and product management, Steve brings a client’s mindset and drive for actionable results to each project. He has extensive experience in capturing the view “from the outside” with a special focus on product and service innovation. Steve is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.