In today's digital world, traditional research methodologies known for their quality are being passed over in favor of speed, cost-savings and convenience. The author discusses one way to get the best of both worlds by blending new with old via tech-assisted intercept surveys.
Editor's note: Laura Boniello Miller is director of marketing at KioWare Kiosk Software, York, Pa. She can be reached at 717-843-4790 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article appeared in the February 10, 2014, edition of Quirk's e-newsletter.
Customer research has become both more accessible and more challenging as online survey deployment options grow in number and in popularity. The struggle between established, traditional research methods and quickly-deployed, cost-effective new methods of data collection is ongoing.
When looking at the positives, traditional research is known for its quality and thoroughness while emergent research is known for its speed and accessibility. On the flip side, traditional research can be slow and costly to implement; man hours are usually high; and travel costs may also be a concern. More modern methodologies, namely online research techniques, are biased toward those who use e-mail and/or the Internet; those who open the e-mail request; and those who are willing to fill it out online. More importantly, the research is limited to individuals whose e-mail addresses are already collected.
So what if you can combine the two?
Traditional research firms have one asset that cannot be marginalized: a strong set of skills that are needed to collect quality data. Survey creation is a skill that not just anyone can undertake with unbiased, meaningful results. Incorporate this skill with a quick-to-deploy digital survey and we're getting closer to a merge.
But what about mitigating the bias of respondents? What about replicating a mall intercept? What about obtaining information from customers on the spot?
One solution that aims to optimize the benefits of both traditional and emerging methods is deploying electronic surveys in a public setting to collect data from random and/or specific respondents (i.e., not based on e-mail address databases). Using locked-down tablet devices or electronic kiosks can mimic a mall intercept in terms of respondents but the data collection is online and automated.
Tech-assisted intercept surveys, whether via a station of tablets, a kiosk or an interviewer with a tablet, offer the on-the-fly data and programmability and convenience of online research without tethering the respondent pool to e-mail address databases - and participants are providing feedback in the moment while they stand (or sit) in the store, mall, office or hospital.
Ultimately, the data still needs to be analyzed by a skilled researcher and the questions written by a skilled survey author. Finding the road between fast and cheap, and rigorous and high quality is one that will benefit the field of market research for the foreseeable future. What other roads do you find between traditional and emergent research methods?