Archive for the ‘In-Depth Interviews’ Category

This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: A school transportation organization recently partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct sales strategy research. The client wanted to better understand customer satisfaction and perception of services provided by the organization. The market research objective was to provide decision-making insights needed to determine how the client may better serve their primary client base in the future.

Approach:  The RMS Analytics team collected data from current, prospective, and former customers via a blinded online survey and in-depth telephone interviews (IDIs). During blinded research, the client’s identity is not disclosed to the participant. To hone in on the customer satisfaction with the services provided by the organization, RMS created an online survey script and interview guide which were reviewed and approved by the client prior to commencing fieldwork. Questions focused on how the respondent rated the satisfaction with particular services, customer service perceptions, satisfaction with the company’s sales strategy, as well as interest level in services that the client considered adding to their suite of offerings. Fieldwork lasted approximately two weeks for the in-depth interviews, and one week for the online survey. Following the data collection and analysis period, a comprehensive report was delivered to the client, which included a visual dashboard of the findings, as well as next steps and recommendations.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • The research identified the areas where the organization excels in serving its customers, including excellent customer service, and the dependability of the organization.
  • Top service needs desired by customers were identified, which included education and training, parts delivery, online parts catalog and ordering, and vehicle body repair service.
  • Since the client interacts with three distinct stakeholder groups during the buying process, RMS identified the most desired information by stakeholder group to streamline the sales strategy and improve the customer experience.
  • To further increase the satisfaction of current clients, as well as gain additional market share, RMS identified a niche market offering that the organization may offer to simplify the buying process and entice competitor customers.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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The following post was co-written with Zach Shaw, Panel Associate at RMS


What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is a non-numerical method used to discover and understand consumer behavior, beliefs, attitudes, experiences, and interactions. Qualitative data is often implemented during the exploratory phase of the research, using unstructured or semi structured techniques to facilitate an open dialogue with the participant(s). Giving the participant more freedom in their response allows them to provide more detail than can be gathered through closed-ended quantitative research. Instead of looking for statistical comparisons, qualitative researchers will evaluate the gathered data to identify trends given by the recipients, and implement solutions.

Types of Qualitative Research:

  • Focus Groups – A focus group includes a small number of people (often 10 or less) brought together to participate in a guided discussion by a moderator. The discussion focuses on specific products, topics, or services, and follows a pre-determined focus group moderator’s guide. The moderator’s guide outlines the questions to be covered, as well as the topics for which the moderator should expect to probe deeper for additional explanation.
  • Intercept Surveys –An intercept survey is a very brief, in-person interview with a participant and an interviewer. For example, the interviewer might approach someone leaving a retail store and ask them a few questions about their experience.
  • In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) –IDIs often take the form of a one-on-one discussion between an interviewer and participant. The interviewer typically follows a semi-structured interview guide, developed prior to the conversation, to direct the discussion. It is common for IDIs to be completed in-person, over the phone, or via the web.
  • Mystery Shopping – Mystery shopping is used to measure the quality of a service, compliance with regulations, or to gather specific information about products and services. This method allows the client to obtain competitive information without being involved in the process. Mystery shoppers often gather this information through telephone calls or by visiting the store and acting as a customer.

Why do Qualitative research?

Qualitative research can be used at any phase of research, but is most commonly done as a first or last step in the research cycle. It can be very valuable when developing new products or marketing initiatives that are looking to gauge consumer perceptions. Qualitative data allows the researcher to have in-depth discussions with participants and allows the researcher to gather more detailed information on consumer needs, behaviors, desires, routines, and a range of other information that companies use for designing products and services. The depth of qualitative research allows the researcher to uncover contextual details that may be overlooked in quantitative research.

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research looks for patterns in numeric data and is generally better for confirming and clarifying a research hypothesis. Applying statistical tests to numerical data provides a better understanding of trends, allowing the researcher to make more informed statements about the results. RMS customizes each questionnaire to the needs of the client, but many of the questionnaires follow a structured outline and are primarily made up of closed-ended questions with provided response options for the participant to choose from. This structured approach to research is different than the more conversational approach used in qualitative research.

Types of Quantitative research:

  • Mail/Paper Surveys – A mail or paper survey is a questionnaire that is completed by the participant on a hard copy rather than in digital form. These types of surveys can either be distributed via postal mail or given to the recipient in person to complete. Mail or paper surveys are a great option for populations which may not have easy access to a computer or the internet, but are known for often having a lower response rate than other types of quantitative research.
  • Mixed Mode – Mixed mode research involves more than one type of data collection. For example, data may be collected with a combination of research methods to reach the desired populations. Phone surveys could be used to collect data from an older population who is more likely to have a landline; online surveys may be distributed to those younger than the population receiving the phone surveys, and paper surveys would be used to collect data from the subset of the population who does not have immediate access to a phone or the internet. A mixed-mode approach allows the researcher to ensure data is collected from the target population of interest, with a mode that is most comfortable to that population.
  • Online Surveys – An online survey is a digital version of a questionnaire. Participants may be sent a survey link that is embedded within an email, or they may access it on a social media post, which they can complete online.
  • Telephone Surveys – A telephone survey is completed over the phone. The interviewer takes the participant through the questionnaire question by question.

Why do Quantitative research?

Quantitative research often gathers a larger number of responses, allowing the researcher to make more reliable assumptions regarding the resulting data. Quantitative research questions can be used to measure consumer feelings, satisfaction, and other factors in a structured form, giving the recipient limited response options.  This quantifiable approach to research is a great option when a client has a sense of what their target audience thinks, feels, or expects, but would like to further test their assumptions.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com

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This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS). 

Background:  Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) recently served as a project evaluator for a multi-year arts initiative. The arts initiative included a collaboration of arts organizations whose goal was to experiment with new programming and engage additional and new audience members through funding provided by a group of funding partners. The market research objective was to evaluate the outcomes and impacts of the project as specified in the logic model.

Approach: The three-part evaluation included (1) in-depth interviews and (2) an online survey with arts organizations, funding partners, and project staff; and (3) a detailed review of project documentation. The interviews lasted approximately 20 minutes, while the survey took roughly 10 minutes to complete and was provided to participants via email. Survey and interview participants were selected from the contact list provided by the client. The project logic model was used in conjunction with results from the in-depth interviews, online survey, and document review to determine the success of the initiative in meeting the pre-defined project goals. Following the initial evaluation project, the client re-engaged RMS to conduct a Visioning Exercise, where the study’s findings were highlighted and discussed in a mini focus-group style meeting. The goal of the Visioning Exercise was to determine next steps for the arts initiative following the end of the project funding period.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • Increased collaboration among participating arts organizations, funding to experiment with new approaches, and review of regional demographic information provided by a project consultant were major drivers of the initiative’s success.
  • Arts organizations participating in the initiative felt the collaboration among organizations should continue after the project funding is exhausted.
  • Participants felt the initiative could have met more of its goals if additional businesses had been engaged, and more reporting and assistance around audience development had been provided to participating arts organizations.
  • A local economic lull resulting in insufficient funding to create arts opportunities from area corporations and minimal disposable income for local patrons were mentioned as the biggest factors that impact their local arts community.
  • Despite the perceived challenges of the economic situation, a majority of participants felt their local arts community has improved over the past five years and will be even better in the next five years. Increased collaboration among arts organizations participating in the initiative was credited with the improvement.
  • Arts organizations feel they would be more successful in the coming year if they were able to expand their audience, identify funding opportunities for creating and marketing art, and increase awareness of the arts among their local community.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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This blog post is a summary of a recent higher education project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: In Spring 2015, a New York State higher education institution partnered with Research and Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a feasibility study to determine whether enrollment demand supports the development of (a) satellite education site(s) in a neighboring County to the college, and if so, what programs and training opportunities are in demand. The client wanted to better understand the current and potential market viability of the programs researched, allowing the college to make informed decisions regarding whether the programs have the capabilities to support the need for (a) satellite location(s).

Approach:  RMS conducted eight phases of research to gather the data necessary to provide the college with insights needed to make an insightful decision regarding satellite site viability. RMS staff conducted in-depth telephone interviews with local employers, economic leaders, and school district superintendents to determine workforce needs, interest in a potential partnership with the college, and potential satellite site locations for further investigation. To determine the college’s brand awareness and barriers to enrollment, RMS staff interviewed prospective students who had recently inquired with the college, but ultimately never enrolled. Prospective students were asked about their inquiry experience with the college, attendance at other higher education institutions, and the program in which they enrolled. To hone in on market demand for the current suite of academic programs, RMS completed a comparative analysis of demand in the region and the United States, using available labor supply and demand databases. The report included workforce data by industry for the applicable metropolitan statistical areas, the region, and the United States comparatively. Using data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), US Census, New York State Department of Labor (US DOL), and known competitive enrollment information, the RMS team estimated the additional enrollment potential that the college might reasonably expect to garner from a satellite extension expansion into the proposed County of interest.RMS staff also performed in-person site visits for several potential satellite locations to determine the most viable option for the college to further pursue, and drafted a high-level operational budget associated with establishing that satellite site.

Results: The RMS team analyzed data from all interviews to provide the client with a qualitative picture of brand perception, workforce need, and partnership potential. Findings revealed areas of opportunity for the college to capitalize on internal improvements, and guided other research components, such as site locations investigated and satellite site budget creation. The enrollment projection supported the establishment of a satellite location in the County of interest, and RMS was able to provide the college with an estimated enrollment figure that could reasonably be expected. RMS provided the college with a proposed plan to make the satellite site a viable option by finding ways to utilize established relationships with other educational institutions and local employers.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in conducting a higher education market research project, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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The following blog post was written by Karen Joncas, a Healthcare Transformation Coordinator at RMS.


Across the country, health care and community resource providers have joined together to transform our health care delivery systems, reducing the upward cost curve of Medicaid spending while ensuring access to appropriate, quality care. States have been given the opportunity to reinvest federal savings in programs, which at the highest level, are designed to meet the triple aim objectives set by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) of improving population health, improving patient experience of care and reducing per capita cost. One key approach being implemented here in New York State is the Delivery System Reform Incentive Program (DSRIP), which specifically targets how healthcare is provided to Medicaid patients.

New York State has structured its DSRIP initiative to promote coordinated community networks of care called Performing Provider Systems (PPS). Performing Provider Systems combine providers of hospital care, primary care and community resources that service a community’s Medicaid population. Each PPS submitted an application to New York State, identifying transformational initiatives based on its Community Needs Assessment, which would meet the primary goal of reducing avoidable hospital care by 25% over five years. This process took place in 2014. Avoidable hospital use includes reducing preventable emergency room use, reducing preventable hospital re-admissions, and focusing on preventive care. Funding for eligible providers is paid throughout the five-year transformation DSRIP program and is based on the PPS’ progress in meeting milestones toward achieving stated goals. At several points over the five-year period of the program, PPS must supply the State with metrics and benchmarks to assess their progress. Now that PPS’ across the country are firmly entrenched in DSRIP, there are additional roles for market research firms to assist in evaluating performance or other assistance in meeting their goals. Specific research roles include community engagement activities and patient experience measurement.

Throughout the DSRIP process, stakeholder and community engagement is critical to the overall success of the program. Stakeholders include 1) patients uninsured or insured by Medicaid, 2) healthcare workers and providers that serve the Medicaid community, 3) representatives from community resource organizations and 4) community residents with commercial health insurance. The processes used to engage these stakeholders include individual in-depth interviews (IDI’s), focus groups, and surveys. One unique way to engage community stakeholders in “real time” is by using a pre-qualified, on-line panel recruited and managed by the market research firm. These methods allow for benchmarking and longitudinal tracking required to report performance against stated goals.

At the conclusion of the DSRIP program, it is expected that the health care delivery system targeting Medicaid patients, as well as ambulatory care, will provide accessible, high quality healthcare in the most appropriate setting and de-emphasize care provided in the hospital. One means of recognizing successful transformation is through receiving National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition (PCMH). PCMH recognized practices proactively engage their patients, including Medicaid covered patients, in achieving the IHI triple aim goals. To that end, it is expected that primary care practices participating in the DSRIP will become PCMH 2014 Level 3 recognized no later than DSRIP’s Year 3.

Another way to incorporate patient experience outcome metrics is through the utilization of the CG-CAHPS survey tool. The survey is administered to patients to assess any disparities in the patient experience of care. Using a certified CMS vendor to administer the survey provides benchmarks and longitudinal change information needed for improving process and optimizing patient experience.

RMS Healthcare, a division of Research and Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) has a successful history of assisting practices in obtaining Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition, and is uniquely qualified to provide assistance to a PPS. For further information on services we can offer to your PPS, please contact us at 1-866-567-5422.

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In-depth interviews (IDIs) are an insightful qualitative research method that allows the researcher to tap into the mind of consumers. To keep costs down, many businesses choose to complete IDIs via telephone, rather than the more costly option of conducting the interviews in-person.  While telephone IDIs provide a cost advantage, the researcher loses the ability to read visual cues provided by the respondent when answering questions. Due to the inability to communicate face-to-face, there are extra steps that should be taken to ensure open-ended questions asked via telephone are transcribed effectively.


Here are four tips to transcribe open-ended responses:

  1. The importance of quality responses

Quality of data is more important than quantity. Ensure that the responses you are transcribing make logical sense. Also, don’t force a complete. If you notice that your respondent is not offering valuable information to the end client, feel free to stop the interview. There is no rule that says you have to finish every interview you start!

  1. Keep the responses clean

The RMS analytics team will go through and re-read every open-ended response, so we try to make sure all responses are free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Not having a consistent format and clean responses will lead to poor reporting or excessive data cleaning time.

  1. Probe for additional details

Suppose your respondent replies to a satisfaction question by stating, “It was good.” From here the researcher should follow up by asking the respondent why “it was good.” To be diligent about probing, we suggest always following up on questions where respondents provide three words or less. Best practices in research suggest that probing on open-ended questions leads to more in-depth responses, and ultimately provide the client with more rich data.1

  1. Record responses verbatim

The researcher should record responses as stated by the respondents. This means the researcher should be recording responses in first person. For example, instead of, “He feels the hours should be longer,” record, “I feel the hours should be longer.” Additionally, do not try to summarize the respondent’s comments, or use your own words to make responses more concise. Try to capture as much as you can from the respondent’s own words.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services, please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

1 Smith, S., & Albaum, G. (2012). Basic Marketing Research: Volume 1. Handbook for Research Professionals. Official Training Guide from Qualtrics. Retrieved from: https://www.du.edu/ir/pdf/basic_marketing_research_vol_1

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Conducting in-depth interviews (IDIs) is the ideal research method for getting highly detailed responses from key stakeholders. Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) knows that completing IDIs allows the interviewer to probe on respondents’ answers in order to gain detailed information on a given topic. Through the use of interview techniques, the researcher can delve deeper into a topic by exploring specific issues, aspects, motivations, influences, habits, and areas of interest.

IDI Blog Photo

Here are five tips to completing IDIs successfully!

  1. Create an easy to use interview guide

An IDI guide assists researchers by helping them stay on track while completing interviews. It also allows researchers to streamline interview questions, which is especially helpful if multiple researchers are completing interviews.

  1. Write down takeaways immediately after the interview

A major advantage of completing IDIs is the ability to understand reasons behind topics of interest. The best way for a researcher to retain this information after completing an interview is to write down key information that was gathered from respondent. We find it is best for the researcher to either take brief notes during the interview, or write down your thoughts immediately following the interview.

  1. Include scaled questions for quantitative insight

Scaled questions help researchers identify similarities and differences between respondents. An example of a scaled question could be, “Please rate your level satisfaction between 1 and 5, with “1” being strongly dissatisfied and “5” being strongly satisfied.” These questions are common in surveys, but they are also useful when completing IDIs.  Asking scaled questions assigns a face value to an aspect. From here, researchers can take it a step further by asking the respondent reasons behind their number choice.

  1. Don’t be afraid to go a little off script

Structured, semi-structured, and unstructured are three types of IDI guides. Structured is where the interviewer must ask the respondent specific questions in a specific order. Unstructured is the opposite of this, and allows researchers to ask questions as they see fit. The most common type of IDI guides are semi-structured, which allows the researcher to veer slightly from the IDI guide during interviews as they see necessary. When completing IDIs researchers will inevitably neglect to ask about important information. Semi-structured IDI guides allow researchers to ask questions about key information that may have been missed. From the participant’s response, researchers may want to update questions in the IDI guide in order include it in future interviews.

  1. Take the time to say, “Thanks!”

Remember to thank your respondent for taking the time to talk to you before and after the interview. It’s simple, easy, and reminds the respondent that the information they provided will directly influence a business or project.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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As we all know, websites are an extremely important component to both the marketing and operations for any given company.  At this point having a website is unlikely to be a competitive advantage for most industries, but ensuring that your web presence is thoroughly optimized for its visitors may very well be.  Through secondary research we know that what the user sees in the first 10 seconds of a website visit is of utmost importance, as you are likely to lose the visitor after that period if they do not find what they are looking for.


Let’s assume we have a local business website. The most common reasons for looking up local business online are to either get their hours of operation or contact information (address, phone, etc.).  Knowing this, we’ll be sure to prominently display this information on the home page of the website rather than burying it within a sub-page – where the typical visitor may never venture.  Other websites may have a different priority, such as a free trial sign-up or a product’s key-feature overview.  With the variety of unique businesses, it’s important to not only know the reason users are visiting your website, but to also validate that the information they are seeking is easy to find.

When we work with clients who are looking to improve and optimize their current website or a brand new website (either prior to the design process or during the process of rolling it out), we offer a few different options for research.  Analytic data can be extremely useful for providing insights on page views, average duration of visit, referral sources, and how users are navigating through the website, but when it comes to website usability we typically recommend qualitative research.  Qualitative research lets us focus on the “why?” (i.e. Why are you visiting the website in the first place?  Why did that link catch your attention?  Why did you stay on this page for so long?). The answer to these questions can be extremely useful to the design process and ultimately lead to creating an effective web presence.   In the same way that research is important to print advertising, spending the extra time and resources to ensure that the website is done right can ultimately lead to a much better return on investment.

Here are two common components of our website usability research:

  • In-Depth Interviews – For website usability research we often conduct in-depth interviews.  There is a lot of flexibility and variability with the way that we conduct these interviews, and we always work with the client to develop a unique approach that is right for their business.  Sometimes we’ll use our on-sight focus group facility (in Syracuse, NY), QualiSight, to conduct the interviews, allowing the clients to watch from the viewing room.  Other times, we’ll conduct the surveys over the phone.  These phone interviews are sometimes referred to as tele-depth interviews.  We also use screen sharing software to watch and record the website walkthroughs.  The interviews are a critical component of website usability research due to the depth that we can dig into the reasons for usage and the ability to target key users.  The ultimate end-product of the interviews is a comprehensive evaluation of the website that has actionable feedback and recommendations for improvements.  The back and forth conversation that we have with the user allows us to understand what your potential clients/customers will be looking for during their (potentially short) visit to your website and what could be done to improve the current layout to produce results.
  • Heat Maps – Heat Maps typically show us a map of “click points” when used in a quantitative setting (pulling large amounts of data from analytic tools).  However, we also create heat maps from data obtained in qualitative setting.  These visuals go hand-in-hand with the in-depth interviews we conduct with the key users regarding their usage of the website.  The heat maps will show us what elements of a website are attracting a customer’s eye.  We will be able to answer very important question of, “what elements of the website did the visitors see first?”.


All-in-all there are multiple components that go into User Experience (UX) design and website optimization. Research is a critical component to developing an effective web presence. Website usability research can often be overlooked when all of the resources are being devoted to strictly the design.  The research component can make sure your website is optimized for customers/clients from the get-go, and in doing so, ultimately prove to be a good return-on-investment.

If you are interested in conducting website usability research, please contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker, at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling (315) 635-9802.

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For general quantitative research with a large scope, how likely are you to recommend online panel research to your clients and why or why not?

I would definitely recommend the use of an online research panel for a large scope quantitative research study.  However, the scope of the research truly needs to be large. Online research panels unquestionably lend themselves to national/regional quantitative studies.  In many circumstances, clients that operate locally won’t be able to utilize the benefits of an online panel (however RMS does have its own large local research panel for Central New York).  I’ve outlined a few major pros and cons that I’ve seen with the use of research panels:

2013 market research trend online panels

Are panels worth it?


  • Fast turn-around.  Once the survey is up and running, data collection can be completed in the matter of a day or two.
  • Alternative to declining phone methodology.  The decrease in landlines is becoming more of a problem in consumer research and cell phone sample isn’t much more productive.  Online panel research is a great alternative as it can allow you to reach the many individuals that have phased out their landline phones.
  • Pre-screen respondents.  Panel research typically allows you to pre-screen respondents based on the information profiles that they filed out when signing up for the research panel.
  • Research-ready respondents.  The invites being sent out to the research panel are quite effective as the respondents have already opted-in to participate in research studies.


  • Hard to target specific audiences.  While you can pre-screen respondents, only so many particular individuals are signed up an online research panel.
  • Trained research respondents.  The respondents being research-ready can also be a negative.  Many online research panel respondents can become aware of how to answer screener questions to avoid being screened out and continue with the survey.  This issue can be somewhat mitigated by changing the wording and method for screener questions or asking them to re-confirm data at the end of the survey. Here are some tips to improve online data quality.
  • Not as personal.  If you’re looking to get in touch with people, nothing beats the use of an experience call center.  Phone reps can build rapport and set a positive tone with respondents and let them know you’re interesting in hearing their feedback.

To read Part 1 of this 2013 market research trend post written by Vance Marriner, our Senior Research Analyst at RMS click here. If you are interested in using an online panel to conduct online survey research in Syracuse NY, contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.

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I’ve spent a few other blog posts discussing the book titled Secrets of a Master Moderator, written by Naomi Henderson from Riva Market Research & Training Institute. If you are just getting started with moderating qualitative research or you are well-experienced in the field, this book is worth a read as you are sure to pick up a few tips along the way. The initial chapter of the book discusses 25 qualities of a master moderator, which I will summarize in this blog post.

moderator ny

Part 1 of this series will cover qualities one through 12 on the top 25 list.

  1. Understands the foundations/applications of market research. A good moderator understands the strengths and weaknesses of focus group research and knows the ins and outs of the process.
  2. Markets services appropriately. The moderator accurately markets his/her services, experiences and offers a fair and competitive price.
  3. Manages all project aspects. Who better to consult with the client and write the report on the focus group findings than the moderator himself/herself? In most cases, the moderator is the objective person in the actual focus group room so the moderator must play a key role in recruitment, guide design and reporting.
  4. Maintains research objectivity. It’s easy to fall in a trap and agree and/or disagree with participants and lead them to answers. A good moderator can separate his/her feelings from the process and garner unbiased feedback. A master moderator is not as interested in the ‘what’ or ‘when,’ but rather the ‘why’?
  5. Establishes research objectives. The moderator needs to understand the primary objectives of a study and the secondary objectives so that he/she can guide the group to the appropriate and most critical topics.
  6. Recommends appropriate methodologies. How can you tell if a market research consultant or moderator is working in your best interest? They are willing to recommend the best methodology to your team even if that means your objectives are more well-aligned with quantitative work (surveys, etc.) In most cases, that means moderator services are no longer needed.
  7. Creates custom questions and custom guides. Each market research project and client is unique so the qualitative process to support that project should be as well. Master moderators do not use cookie-cutter guides and questions to answer objectives; they continually evolve their process and questions to generate the best feedback.
  8. Practice unconditional positive regard (UPR). This points to the moderator having good skills in responding to all comments no matter how logical or rational the feedback is. Oftentimes you get “golden nuggets” of information from the most unlikely sources in a focus group. If the participants gets shy or thinks you are not listening to him/her, they may not be willing to offer additional feedback later in the group.
  9. Maintains good listening skills. A skilled moderator has a good understanding of both verbal and non-verbal clues during the focus group and determines which comments/actions warrant additional follow-up questions.
  10. Remains observant. A master moderator has complete control of the room. The moderator understands when the room needs to liven up, participants need to change topics or a question needs to be asked in a different way.
  11. Practices invisible leaderships skills. This points to the moderator being able to lead the room and be in charge without ruining the rapport between moderator and participant and participant to participant.
  12. Moderates effectively. Okay, this one is a bit broad and could probably be useful as its own separate blog post but the gist of this is being able to set the tone, describe the purpose of the session and work with participants to get to deeper levels of thinking through discussion.

Are you looking for a moderator in NY? Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm in NY that has qualitative moderators (focus groups, shopalongs, in-depth interviews) on staff for your research needs. We also have QualiSight, an on-site focus group facility, if your business would like to conduct qualitative research right in Syracuse, NY. If you have any questions about our services, contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling (315) 635-9802.

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