As a Qualitative Moderator coming off of a 24 city tour, visiting 24 facilities in under 3 months(!), I saw the great, the bad, AND the ugly in research facilities across the country. Below are some do's that will really help your facility to outperform all others.
Have great recruiting with respondents who show up and who show up on time.
Without respondents, and without respondents who arrive on time to get signed in and hear all of the introductions, we do not have ANY research.
Idea: One facility held an 'early bird' raffle to encourage early arrival. Participants who arrived early had their names put in a jar and a winner received a small reward when their name was chosen.
Idea: One facility over-recruits by one respondent and does not charge the client for the extra effort.
Hint: Do take the extra time to go over directions, traffic patterns, and parking with respondents when calling to confirm.
Know all the hotels in your area.
Most moderators have no idea where they are or how far you are from their hotel or the airport.
Idea: One facility offered to send a cab to the hotel to pick me up.
Hint: Anyone answering the phone should be able to give directions from all hotels and the airport.
Have a designated Qualitative Assistant
Moderators usually make all of the room adjustments, paperwork requests, copies needed, and answer the all-important dinner questions, right away. The hallways at facilities are especially long to provide quiet and confidentiality to research rooms; however, this makes for a lot of time and foot travel when I'm trying to find someone to help me.
Hint: Introduce the Qualitative Assistant and plan on them shadowing the Moderator for the first 15 minutes after the moderator settles in. It's a great help to have that person at the ready to answer questions and pitch in...and then the Moderator can then grab a breather or meet with a client.
Make it easy to get from the interview room and back room to the restroom, front desk, and respondent waiting area.
Some facilities are one big maze and although you may know exactly where you are, the moderator, other clients, and the respondents are in foreign territory.
Hint: Wall signs pointing to important locations can be very useful when things get busy.
Stock focus room-friendly supplies.
Because research minutes are very expensive, once the group starts there's no leaving the room for the moderator.
Hint: Have a LARGE faced desk clock (our eyes are OLD !), WORKING flip chart markers, NON-sticky flip chart paper (their sticky cousins don't travel well), a pad and pen, WATER, TISSUES and HAND SANITIZER.
Have cost- and health-minded back room amenities.
With cost-conscious clients, it is best to keep the food to a minimum to assist them in maintaining strict budgets. During cold and flu season, it is best to keep wrapped snacks around, rather than open bowls which can encourage germ passing.
Idea: One facility has a water cooler which is much more eco-friendly than the 10 bottles of water I can drink in a research day, not to mention other clients or respondents.
Idea: One facility baked a small batch of homemade cookies, the cost was minimal and the experience...well, priceless.
Hint: Wrapped granola bars and packaged nuts/dried fruit are great for healthier-minded, protein-wanting clients, and they are more sanitary than their open-bowled counterparts.
Have something available to assist the moderator is transporting materials which are often taken in-hand by the weary moderator en route to the hotel or the airport.
Hint: A recyclable bag with handles (AND with your logo) is great for carrying flip chart notes, screener lists, research stimuli, and bottled water. These are just a few of the items that may be in tow late in the evening.
Partner with a great transportation service.
Research often ends in the dark hours of the evening and moderators (often traveling alone) are getting into unfamiliar cabs in unknown cities.
Idea: One facility had partnered with a car service: the Escalade arrived (yes, I said Escalade!) and was charged to the facility (to be billed later). Another great feature was that the driver was VERY customer service oriented because they wanted the facility business. What a great LAST impression!
Get feedback from your Moderator about the service of your facility.
However, handing out those customer service surveys as the moderator is leaving is problematic. At this time this ole gal is wiped out and the last thing I want to do is to fill out a questionnaire about someone who is standing in front of me.
Idea: One facility put the questionnaire in a small, lightweight goodie pack with a self addressed stamped envelope to return to the facility.
You all do such an amazing job, and as you can see it's the little things that make or break the experience.I have 24 additional cities to go in the 1st quarter! I'm hoping to see you in 2010!