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5 Ways to win over your workmates with online qual

Tom Woodnutt

Tom Woodnutt

Feeling Mutual

Tom Woodnutt is a planner and qualitative researcher with over 16 years in the industry. He works at the intersection of digital, insight and strategy. Tom has helped many agencies learn how to design research that is more inspiring for both clients and participants. He has also been digital skills trainer for the AQR (Association of Qualitative Researchers). 

We humans sometimes struggle with change. So it’s quite possible that some of your colleagues view online qual with a degree of scepticism (and perhaps even trepidation). However, with a little reassurance and proper project planning you will be able to win them over and help your agency to progress and succeed.

Resistance to change is natural – our brains are more comfortable with the familiar. Doing things differently uses more cognitive energy and involves the amygdala (the creative part of the brain used for emotional fight-or-flight responses). However, resistance to online qual can also come from having had bad experiences of it. This is often through poor planning which can be avoided!

These five tips will help you inspire better planning of online qual projects and therefore more motivated colleagues:

1. Make sure you cost it properly

The golden rule of online qual is to ensure that you have the budget to cover the consultancy time required to do the project properly. If you don’t plan and cost your project properly it immediately becomes less profitable because it can end up taking longer than you expected. The first step to ensuring greater profit and a happy team is simply to cost your project realistically thereby allowing your colleagues the time necessary to make it a success.

2. Be disciplined and block out the time you need

One of the problems with agency management of online qual is that it’s often delegated to junior staff who may not be empowered (or experienced enough) to block out the time required to do it properly. It ends up being something that gets rushed at the end of the day and is de-prioritised around other face-to-face fieldwork.

If you can clearly explain to the team how long it takes to set up, probe, analyse and report, then you should be allowed to block specific chunks of time out in the diary. This simple equation can help you:

Calculate the volume of content that you have to read, moderate and analyse and work out how much time it will take (i.e. No. of questions x No. of people = No. of responses). Depending on how fast you read, moderate and analyse their answers, you can work out an accurate consultancy time. For example, you might allow 5 minutes per response. Once they see the sheer volume of content that online qual generates that should help you free up big enough chunks of time to moderate and analyse it.

3. Bust the myths

You will need to address some of the misconceptions people have about online qual in order to sell it through internally, not least the myth that online qual lacks depth.

A simple piece of arithmetic can help you demonstrate this:

A face-to-face group buys you 2 hours of everyone’s time for around £50 a head. That 2-hour session is then split between 8 people since it is in real-time and only one person can talk at once (which means you get around 15 minutes per person). However, in asynchronous online qual, you actually get 2 hours of contributions from each of the 8 people (because everyone can answer every question in parallel).

So, next time they tell you it lacks depth, you can show them that you actually get a greater amount of richer, more detailed feedback for your money.

4. Use more than one moderator

If a project is not planned and resourced correctly the researcher can be expected to moderate too many people. Since online qual enables participants to give greater consideration to their responses and go into greater depth, it can be hard to keep track of each individual across the project. One solution is to use more than one moderator and allocate a manageable number of participants to each one. That way it becomes less of a burden on each researcher and allows the team to have a better understanding of the individual narratives.

5. Encourage senior moderators to get their hands dirty

The best way for your senior colleagues to believe in the power of online qual is if they experience it themselves first hand. Most platform providers should give you free access to the platform for an internal trial and they can easily give them access to a live project. Alternatively, bring them in at the analysis stage and make sure they see the depth, and richness of feedback that it generates. Once they see how easy and productive it is, they will be more open to the possibilities of online qual.

If you follow these 5 tips your colleagues will be inspired by how successful your projects are and have a much better understanding of how efficient and productive online qual is. They will also be more appreciative of the resources required, so you will get the time and space to do it justice!

If you or your colleagues are interested in mastering online qual, then please do get in touch to find out whether the Masterminds – online qual mastery course could be for you, just email Tom@feelingmutual.com to find out more.


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