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Reversing the direction of care within the health sector

To successfully reverse the direction of care, you need to first understand how patients are accessing services. Are you doing enough?

It is well known that the NHS is feeling the strain and is under pressure to prioritise and allocate care to patients when they need it the most. With reports over the Christmas period of trusts at over 99% capacity,[1] it is vital that NHS organisations understand how patients are using services, and more importantly still, recognise when the direction of care needs to be reversed.

As an example, patients often see primary care within the NHS as the first port of call and it is often the first point of contact for patients. Approximately 90% of patient interaction is with primary care and for this reason it’s commonly referred to as the ‘Front Door’ to the NHS. Now imagine if those patients first took the steps to visit their pharmacist, self care at home, or – right at the start of the cycle – have a healthier lifestyle.

reversing direction of care

Reversing the direction of care will mean that care is available at a time when patients need to access it the most. Gaining insights into patient behaviour as to how they are accessing services will drive efficiencies and ensure the best return on investment for your organisation without compromising service.

What can you do?

 Using our experience in delivering complex research projects for the NHS, in this blog we are sharing our tried and tested approach to deliver actionable insights to shape necessary changes in reversing the direction of care.

  1. Review current service access – Do you know if the public are over using a particular service due to insufficient access to other services? Are there any trends to highlight how services are being accessed? Do you even know what the public want from primary care – seven day GP appointments, extended hours surgeries, telephone appointments? The first step in shaping services is to consult and ask the public what their needs are.
  2. Education – In our experience there is confusion on what services should be accessed when, from where, and by whom. It’s essential to see the service structure through patients’ eyes and understand how to communicate and educate on current services. Understanding the problem before looking at the solution will lead to sustained results.
  3. Develop social marketing – Developing and co-creating social marketing campaigns with the public will lead to and encourage positive behavioural change. Areas of focus should be self care, healthy living and creating educational campaign materials to outline steps to be taken when accessing services.
  4. Consult with staff – Ask those that know. Tap into the expertise of your primary care staff at grass roots level and deep dive to understand their experiences and solutions to support you to achieve your vision.

Why Explain Market Research; and how we will deliver actionable insights.  

The decision to meaningfully uncover actionable insights into how patients are accessing care will be one of the most valuable consultation activities you will undertake. For that reason, you should use an independent expert.

Having worked with the health sector nationally for over a decade on a range of research projects, Explain Market Research has developed a unique and relevant skill set aligned to research and engagement within both the NHS and private health sector; we are providing insights which are underpinning changes to models of care nationally.

Examples of our work include:

Follow the links above to read our case studies in full.

Why Explain:

  1. Independent: You can be confident that our advice will be impartial, open and focused and will deliver a return on investment
  2. Bespoke solutions: Offering a range of research methodologies from the traditional to the innovative, always focussing on the best approach to deliver actionable insights for your organisation
  3. Experts in consultation: With a longstanding track record of delivering pre-consultation and consultation research into changes of care within the NHS, we are sector experts
  4. Research that unlocks insight: Delivering a range of research solutions including: public consultation, stakeholder research, brand awareness and perceptions, customer and employee research.

 Contact us today to find out how we could support you and get in touch with our team to understand more about the solutions we provide.




[1] http://www.acutemedicine.org.uk/news/leading-doctor-fears-for-hospitals-as-new-year-dawns/

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Explain Market Research – Finalists in the Market Research Society (MRS) Operations Awards 2017

Explain Market Research has been announced as a finalist in the MRS Operations Awards 2017. The MRS is the world’s leading research association and their annual Operations Awards will take place this year on 14 September 2017 in London. We have been recognised for our outstanding work and are shortlisted as one of three finalists in the field of Best Data Collection (Telephone).

Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Explain has provided full-service market research solutions to a range of organisations for over two decades, with specialist knowledge and expertise in the utilities, healthcare, social housing and the financial services sectors. Delivering innovative insights is at the forefront of our culture and this has been recognised by the MRS.

Our Managing Director, Kim Davis, commented, “As a proud company partner of the MRS, we are delighted to have been shortlisted as finalists for this prestigious award. The Explain research centre has a team of 45 dedicated telephone researchers; they deliver annually against strategic KPIs, and significantly contribute to the success of the business. In 2016-2017, our telephone researchers delivered productivity scores averaging 96%, quality scores averaging 95%, and completed approximately 131,500 interviews. I’m incredibly proud of our team and the recognition of finalist is testament to all their continued hard work and dedication.”

The MRS, who are dedicated to the support, promotion and enrichment of the research and business world, will announce the winners of eight awards categories and will celebrate the best of the UK’s research agencies in a night of recognition and awards.

Kim went on to add, “We pride ourselves on building and developing longstanding and trusted public, private and the third sector client partnerships through the consistent delivery of powerful and actionable consumer insights. We recognise the need to invest in our team, in technology and in identifying how to continue to improve, always striving for innovation aligned to delivery for our clients. Being part of the awards on 14 September will be a celebration of all the work we undertake to deliver for clients.”

Clients provided us with testimonials to support our award entry, further illustrating Explain’s commitment to deliver for clients, including the following:

“I’ve worked with the team at Explain for over 6 years, while employed in various roles and organisations. Explain have been a critical part of my success to improve customer experience during this time. 

I’ve heard people say anyone can make an outbound call/do a survey, the difference for me with Explain is their approach. They understand my needs and business, which has created a partnership working relationship rather than client/supplier. The opportunity to meet the full team including the fantastic telephone researchers creates a real connection and lets me know Explain care about my customers too.”

Adam Stewart, Executive of Customer Services, Barratt Developments plc

Our business has consistently seen growth year on year, providing development and opportunity for our dynamic team. It is this team of specialists across a range of disciplines within marketing and research who enable Explain to deliver market research projects to extremely high standards – from design all the way through to insights and into actions.

With an exceptionally strong team of moderators, researchers, analysts and marketing specialists delivering a mix of qualitative (in depth conversation based research) and quantitative (survey based statistical research) methods, Explain can provide you and your organisation with the powerful and reliable insight that you need to inform your business, customer and marketing strategies.

We employ a wide range of methodologies, from the traditional to the innovative, including:

Our team at Explain Market Research are experts at putting research programmes in place to deliver for clients.

Contact us today to find out how we could support you, and click through below to take a more detailed look at some of the solutions we offer.





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Staying ahead of the curve – insights unlock value in the new Water Retail Market

The new water retail market is open for business; on the 1 April this year it became possible for businesses in England to choose which company they would like to supply their retail water services.

The move had been in the pipeline since 2011, when the government set plans for a new competitive market outlined in the Water for Life White Paper. With a focus on improving customer service, promoting protection of the environment and increasing competition in the industry, it is one of the most significant changes the industry has faced, bringing with it a range of new challenges.

The open retail water market will work much in the same way as other utility services, with wider utility markets now also being able to offer water services.  It is believed this will deliver around £200 million of overall benefit to customers and the UK economy by separating out retail services from wholesale activities.

What does this mean?

In simple terms it means that for an additional 1.2 million eligible businesses and non household customers they now have a choice – the customers are in the driving seat.

Customers can decide who they would like to provide their water, their wastewater services, or both. They can change at any time, for any reason, without penalty, and all this can happen in less than a month.

For licensed water retailers it means they are now competing against each other and have the freedom to tailor services and packages for customers to contend in the open market. The market will provide growth opportunities for existing regional water companies, and brand new companies. Initial investment will be required to set up independent retail businesses, ensuring fair competition, and once established driving a return on investment will be a key focus.

Insights will unlock value

The open retail market is a new market; with that comes limited transactional history or operational trading knowledge. There are no clear market leaders and the market is open to competition.

The good news is willingly engaging with and understanding customers’ and stakeholders’ needs and concerns could be a key differentiator in a new competitive market and will provide those forward thinking water retail companies with a competitive edge.

Staying ahead of the curve

The ability to benchmark, track and evaluate service through customer engagement will deliver a significant return on investment for water retailers.

For over two decades, our team at Explain Market Research have been innovating, developing and delivering research programmes in the utility sector, our main objective always being to deliver actionable insights for our clients. Read our case studies for some great examples of our work in the sector.

We have developed innovative methodologies to deliver insights in a competitive market. We specialise in engaging with customers including embedding behavioural research, trust and confidence, and the engagement of vulnerable and hard to reach customers into our utility sector research projects.

Research and engagement will enable water retail businesses to get closer to their customers to identify the issues they are experiencing at any given time and co-creating to find solutions that improve their experience.

Research will also be important to understand the ideal balance between price and service to enable retailers to shape their service offering. Measuring and tracking customer experience as well as customer advocacy will allow retailers to measure performance as well as areas for service improvement, enabling continuous improvement over time and high levels of customer retention for getting it right.

Contact us at Explain Market Research today to find out more about the solutions we offer. Take a look at our accompanying infographic below.

Water Retail Market Infographic V3


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Explain Market Research launches new research solution to deliver innovation

Originally developed in 2010, Explain’s innovative online community platform has undergone a substantial upgrade to better meet the needs of clients and end users.

Organisations in a range of sectors, including utilities, healthcare and manufacturing, have chosen our platform as it provides a unique and extremely cost-effective method of research and engagement to suit any budget.

An online community in the simplest form is a form of social and digital engagement, sometimes referred to as an online panel; they offer a bespoke, members-only digital space in which to directly engage ‘in the moment’ with a desired audience – for example, customers, stakeholders, or internal staff. Communities are currently being used to monitor perceptions of customer service, develop new products, and engage with vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ consumer groups.

Along with the build of each community, Explain provide an ongoing management and moderation service which sees users encouraged to actively participate in conversation, providing a qualitative two way conversation. Views and opinions are gathered through discussion threads, polls and online surveys, with fresh and relevant content uploaded frequently to ensure high levels of engagement, providing a 360 degree view from customers.

Our online communities range in scale and scope, with each community individually designed to deliver the needs of clients. We currently host and manage online communities ranging from bespoke projects with 50 members, running for a limited time to deliver immediate insights, to long term strategic models with thousands of members, that will run over a number of years as an engagement tool.

The recently launched Version 3 of the platform offers enhanced design and media capabilities, along with greater usability to improve user experience for members.

Kim Davis, Explain Market Research’s Managing Director commented “Our newest release has stimulated interest from those who see research as an ongoing investment in product and service refinement. Any industry that is serious about stakeholder engagement should consider an online community, as an extremely cost-effective way to carry out ongoing research.  It breaks down barriers such as location, accessibility and timing. We are seeing a significant shift towards this type of research, particularly in regulatory environments, to demonstrate consistent engagement, and also in manufacturing for product innovation and development.”

Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Explain has provided full-service market research solutions to a range of organisations for over two decades, with specialist knowledge and expertise in the utilities, healthcare and financial services sectors. Delivering innovative insights is at the forefront of our culture. Our online communities are part of a wider suite of innovative solutions to research and engagement, which also includes mobile app surveys, collecting ‘in the moment’ data and insights.

With a shift towards ongoing and digital research, to demonstrate consistent engagement, we continue to work with clients to find solutions to their needs, and are seeing a significant increase in the uptake of online communities as a research tool.

Take a look at our infographic below and get in touch to understand how your organisation will benefit from an online community.

communities infographic

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Ofwat recognise Explain’s knowledge in vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ customer research

Research with customers living in vulnerable circumstances and other ‘hard to reach’ groups is a requirement that more and more insight and market research managers are having to address as part of their roles. Not only are regulators applying pressure on organisations to demonstrate that they are inclusive, but there is huge value for businesses to be more effective in their engagement with those who are utilising services inefficiently.

Explain Market Research has developed methodologies to engage with vulnerable and hard to reach customers, particularly within the utilities sector – a sector which is at the forefront of innovation in identifying, engaging and effectively communicating with hard to reach customers.

Regulator Ofwat urged the water industry to consider how they are interacting with vulnerable and hard to reach customers, and set out examples of how water companies should consider the expectations of what good service looks like to these customers.

Ofwat recently published our recommendations on engaging with vulnerable and hard to reach customers on their website.

Our team at Explain Research has extensive knowledge and experience in the utilities sector, having conducted research programmes on behalf of water and electricity organisations for nearly two decades, and have developed tips for engaging with vulnerable customers. See our infographic below to learn more.

Our approach is tried and tested and is embedded in our research methodologies. We are delivering key insights to our clients within the water and electricity industries, and are continuously looking at innovative ways to continue to engage with vulnerable and hard to reach customers.

For further information, please contact us today to find out more.

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Why using behavioural research can provide greater returns on your marketing spend

For many years businesses have segmented their audiences based on socio-demographics, or firmographics where they are interested in companies. These are very useful and powerful ways to slice and dice data to then formulate engagement tactics to meet the assumed needs of these groups based on what this data tells us.

For example, how much a person earns will give you an idea if they could afford your product, or if they’re a business, having greater than a certain turnover may indicate they are in the market to buy your service.

But what about going one step further? What if you were to gain deeper insight into the actual behaviours of your potential customers? Just because someone can afford your product doesn’t mean they’ll purchase it. But if you add another dimension to this data in the form of personal attitudes and behaviours, this could create a much richer picture to aid your product development, messaging and targeting – and ultimately increase revenue into your business.

For example, within the health industry, gyms can target women who are 25-40 who are likely to earn over £25,000, within a given area, with a one week free trial promotion focused on weight loss. It is more than likely this will generate some sort of return in terms of uptake, particularly around New Year. But there is opportunity for these gyms to truly understand more behavioural traits of these ladies such as:

  • the main drivers behind why women join a gym in the first place
  • the feelings that these women have before joining a gym
  • what has prevented them from joining a gym in the past
  • what behaviours they have before, during and after a session at the gym
  • the key reasons for not being able to attend a session
  • the drivers behind cancelling memberships

With this more detailed dimension, gyms can reshape their service, re-define their messaging and introduce promotional marketing to existing members to prevent churn – therefore extending the lifetime value of their customers!

Behavioural research is much more complex than research of opinions, as it requires an approach which allows the researcher to get under the skin of the audience and to identify thoughts, feelings, emotions and the actions of an individual as a consequence of these. These are usually more deeply rooted and not easy to uncover using traditional surveys.

Our expert team utilise a range of methodologies that allow us to pull together a rich picture of your customer and stakeholder types. We use qualitative approaches for collecting this type of insight that could include a mix of the following methodologies:

There are many reasons why you should consider behavioural research – here are our top five:

  1. It will provide you with another dimension and help you better understand your audience
  2. It will help form more engaging communications resulting in better returns  
  3. Products and services can be enhanced to better meet the needs of your customers
  4. You can identify weak spots in your service to address and therefore increase your customer lifetime values
  5. You will gain a competitive edge

Contact the Explain team today to find out more about the best approach for you. Please feel free to save and share our accompanying infographic.


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Life after the graduate scheme

By Jeni Lagan, Market Research Executive at Explain

I joined Explain Market Research on their graduate scheme in April 2015, while completing my MSc in Occupational and Organisational Psychology at Northumbria University. I was expecting to begin my career with the dreaded new-starter tasks like fetching drinks and photocopying, but how wrong I was! From the very start my team gave me comprehensive training and supported me in getting the experience I needed to succeed in the fast-paced research agency environment – data analysis, report writing, time management, and much more. From this I gained the skills and confidence to design projects from inception, deliver insightful findings, and liaise with clients at all levels.

Having begun as a Market Research Assistant, I was promoted twice during my 12 months on the programme – first to Market Research Coordinator, and then to my current project management role of Market Research Executive. I’ve also had the opportunity to complete a certificate qualification in Market & Social Research with the world’s leading research association, the Market Research Society (MRS).

I have now been an Executive for over nine months and it has been a whirlwind, but I’ve loved every minute! The challenges faced as a graduate are now responsibilities I take on day to day. There’s never a boring moment, with new clients and research projects always around the corner. Although I’m no longer on the graduate scheme, I’m still learning something new each day; even in these short nine months as an Executive my role has blossomed and developed.

Working at Explain you realise just how far teamwork will take you; in 18 months I’ve gone from using my colleagues for training and support, to providing the same guidance to our current graduates.

Why not get in touch if you’d like to find out more about our graduate recruitment? You can find my contact details on the team page of our website.