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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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The importance of ‘in the moment’

We live in a society of instant gratification. Gone are the days when we were willing to wait for almost anything. We are actually serving ourselves in supermarkets to avoid queues, checking ourselves into flights and paying for same day delivery from online retailers. Amazon is even developing drones to enable one hour delivery. The drone will literally collect your product from the warehouse and fly it to your home without the need for any human intervention; this is space age stuff!

The need for speed extends to the marketing world too, with marketers realising that although TV advertising can raise awareness and build brand affinity, it doesn’t necessarily drive sales and thus an entirely different approach is required.

Leaders in the industry are therefore investing in near field technology, enabling the transmission of marketing messages as and when a customer passes a small transmitter. Linger for five minutes in the TV section of Argos with the relevant app installed on your smartphone and you may receive a 10% discount to give you the nudge you need to make your purchase – very powerful in driving sales!

Immediacy in the research industry is another challenge. We all know the sooner we speak to a customer about their experience the more accurate their recall will be. Think about the last time you visited the supermarket; unless you slipped on a banana skin in the fruit and veg aisle or conversely were wowed by the girl on the checkout who took the time to organise your shopping by food type for you, there is probably very little you can remember. Capturing in the moment feedback is therefore increasing in importance as our lives become busier and our landscapes more cluttered with information overload.

There have been some efforts to capture in the moment feedback, traditionally this has been via exit surveying. I was in The Carphone Warehouse last week and there was a lovely lady standing at the door completing surveys with customers as they left. Unfortunately she had been stood there all day and only a handful of customers had walked through the door and thus the store’s investment in placing her there seemed altogether a waste of time. This was coupled with the fact the store’s staff, who were being evaluated, were in earshot of where she was stood meaning honest and open feedback around areas for improvement could have been very much inhibited!

You will also notice now that whenever you close a transaction a survey will be triggered and sent to you immediately. I completed a remortgage last week and instantly received an online satisfaction survey from my old mortgage provider, my new mortgage provider and the solicitor involved in the transaction! I didn’t complete any of them. They were all too long and I felt bombarded when they arrived in my inbox at the same time.

All of this indicates that there is a clear need to get much smarter about collecting in the moment feedback in the research industry. This is something we have been working on and will be making an announcement very soon outlining how new technology can overcome these challenges…