I recently read an article in the May 2011 edition of Quirks, which is titled “Marrying Phone and Web” by Tom Donnelly – click here to read it. The theme of the article is why web-assisted TDIs (tele-depth interviews) are a cost-effective qualitative methodology. Methodologies like online bulletin boards, virtual focus groups and video chat interviews emerged and were adopted some time ago, so this new TDI approach should not seem too innovative. Other than saying web-assisted tele-depth interview is a mouthful, I believe this is a methodology worth considering. For our own purposes, let’s call these web IDIs (in-depth interviews).
One of the most undervalued and overlooked components of data collection is the ability to engage the respondent. You can spend hours fine-tuning the wording of a question in a script, debate on whether or not to offer an incentive, or even argue about whether you should ask Q7c aided or unaided – but I’ll take the quality of data provided from an engaged participant over pretty much anything else. When it comes to qualitative research, give me someone who is engaged and attentive and it will dismiss most of the flaws (or so thought flaws) in the qualitative methodology. As a market researcher, we can only be as good as the respondents/participants who partake in our studies. That’s the most ground-level deciding factor on how well we can do our jobs.
When I read articles about specific methodologies that have the intent of better engaging a respondent, I’ll always listen (or in this case, read). Web IDIs are one-on-one telephone interviews conducted while showing respondents information over the Internet. So instead of sending them copy via email or standard mail, web IDIs allow the moderator or interviewer to show content through a secure website. This is why web IDIs are most commonly used to test new stimuli, concepts and messages.
The fundamental advantages of this methodology are clear – savings on travel time, quicker fieldwork turnaround, broader geographical recruit and convenient scheduling. But the simple fact that you can almost combine the advantages of online fieldwork while still using an interviewer/moderator is what appeals to me. With traditional telephone IDIs, I can think of a number of situations where the discussion led to either a suggestion from the respondent or more clarification was needed from the interviewer. On the other hand, if we had a diagram or copy piece to look at, it would have made the interview that much better. Web IDIs accomplish that by showing visuals to respondents to keep them engaged in the interview.
Incorporating visuals into your interviews is not something you need to be on-site to accomplish. It’s not even something you need to send out ahead of time through email or standard mail. Using an online counterpart for your telephone IDIs will better engage your interviewee and offer you more robust results, and it’s easier than you think.