When I was in grade school, a fellow classmate fell during gym class and hurt herself. I rushed over to her. I bombarded her with questions like: “What does it feel like? Are you in pain? Do you feel embarrassed that you stopped gym class?” While I don’t remember everything I asked, I do distinctly remember her saying, “Shut up Kara.” I probably wandered off to cry somewhere, but I did learn a lesson that has been a theme in my life: ask the right questions, keep them short, and listen to the response.
I was asked this week to do some work on best practices to keep a panel of customers engaged (in this case it was for online surveys). It was a good exercise for me to actually think through my process. A part of me wanted to Google “panel management engagement” to make sure whatever I said is the same thing people would find if they did the research on their own. I’d look smart, right? Then I challenged myself to really think about how to keep customers engaged in talking to you.
While I eventually came up with a list of tips and strategies, I realized later where I probably spend most of my time is thinking through what are the right questions to ask. When working with clients, they usually have a pretty good idea of what they need to know. What I like to do is come up with how to ask the questions.
Let’s say a company that makes lotion for sensitive skin doesn’t have a feel for their closest competitors, and ultimately why their brand is selected or rejected. The common approach would be to ask questions like these:
There isn’t anything wrong with these questions; I’ve used them. The problem is it makes people think, and potentially answer incorrectly. I can’t remember what happened last weekend, let alone what brands I purchased in June!
Here’s another approach:
Try Another Way
In this model we’ve assessed loyalty, their current brand, their next go-to brand, and developed a list of reasons for each go-to brand.
If you are anything like me, and you probably are…(but smarter), you are challenging this methodology. That’s ok, it isn’t perfect. But the goal here is to think outside the box of traditional research questions and make it fun and engaging so respondents can answer honestly, without thinking too hard.
If you have an example of “Try Another Way,” I’d love to hear about it!