How to conduct remote research with the right technology

We can’t always be in the same room with consumers but still, need their feedback and the ability to ask follow-up questions. That’s where remote research or virtual research comes in handy.

What’s remote research? It’s any research done with the respondent being in a different location from the interviewer. Like a virtual meeting, virtual research is done through a video platform like Zoom.

Interviewing customers – especially at scale – through remote research helps product and marketing teams understand how their product fits into their jobs to be done and daily activities, said Niamh Jones, former director of product at Voxpopme, on an episode of “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.”

In this article, I discuss how to make virtual research a success, what to consider, and what questions to ask.

Making remote research easy

When remote research is easy for employees as well as customers it’s more likely to happen. That includes:

  • Making the time with consumers as meaningful as possible
  • Using the right technology

We have such precious time with customers so we want to get the most out of it.

Being efficient with time

“I look for those organic pauses in the customer journey,” said former Voxpopme Product Marketing Manager Betsy Nelson on an episode of “Reel Talk.” “There’s a lot of times when Customer Success is already talking to customers and I like to tap into those moments.”

That process considers customers’ time and isn’t asked to set aside more time.

“We try to add value,” Betsy said. “So it’s not just them giving and giving and giving, but we are providing something for them as well. We want to make sure it’s a give and take.”

Added Chief Revenue Officer Jenn Vogel: “You really want to make sure that we aren’t asking the same question more than once or try to capture information that they’ve already shared with us. That allows us to be closer to our customers while also

Using the right technology

Different parts of the customer relationship can use different technologies for your market research:

Read next: Even more ways to assess customer health!

The pieces of remote research

The system of design thinking applies here as well. Ask consumers questions throughout the process – and doing it remotely can help you talk to them at scale.

“We get feedback through the different iterations,” said Niamh. “And with some things we do a beta testing phase as well. Then post-launch of new features as well.”

Then know when you dive into specific problems like why is something specific not working. And when to ask broader questions about overarching business problems.

Do research from a place of data and not just pop in and say 'hi.'

The importance of historical data

All remote research at Voxpopme is documented and referred back to when the team wants to connect with specific customers who use the product.

“You are a little bit more informed that way,” said Betsy. “It’s not just ‘hi, how is it going?’ but rather ‘I’ve seen you use this section of the product, tell me about that experience.”

That also helps move a conversation forward quickly, added Niamh.

“We aren’t spending the first 10-15 minutes and you can tell us things we may or may not already know,” Niamh said. “That way we can go in with more informed questions. We have such precious time with customers so want to get the most out of it.”

Read next: How to get centralized data in your company

At the end of the day, the conversation should be mutually beneficial. For the customers, it can be highly beneficial when products are improved based on their feedback.

How to structure a remote research conversation with customers

Conversations do include a time to discuss the customer’s current pain points and what they are trying to accomplish.

“Just to get us up to speed,” said Niamh. “We have a very structured document but also give them that space to see what they want to talk about.”

The team wants customers to be honest and give their full opinions.

“Set the scene that our feelings won’t be hurt,” Niamh said. “Be as brutally honest as you want because that’s going to help us.”

Have prepared questions, see where the conversation goes, and ask good follow-up questions.

“You never know what you are going to learn jumping on these calls,” Niamh sad

Also have examples ready. Sometimes, customers don’t have an answer to a open-ended question so you might follow up with something more specific:

  • Do you need help with training the team on xyz?
  • Would something like xyz help solve that?
  • Do you want to see some examples of xyz?

The team adds value for the customer, even when they are asking for things.

Good questions

Have good questions ready. Be clear about the end goal and what the questions are trying to accomplish, said Matthew Handegaard, data scientist at Voxpopme, on an episode of “Reel Talk.”

When you bring order to your questions they will give you a more orderly response.

“Important to any research plan is to start the maze from the end,” he said. “First, you need to establish what you are trying to accomplish, and then you work backward to formulate the questions you will ask.”

Also, remember that it’s good  to uncover more questions to the initial questions once the conversation has started. Good follow-up questions can also make a difference in gathering insights.

Read next: Do this to be innovative in business

The trick is to listen actively and spot the opportunities to follow up. For example, Rob Fitzpatrick, author of “The Mom Test,” recalls an interview where the researcher kept ticking off the questions until the respondent said:

“That’s the worst part of my day.”

But the interviewer didn’t ask more questions about what made it so bad and kept going down the list of prepared questions. That was a lost opportunity for consumer insights right there.

Feedback loop

Whenever possible, try to circle back with customers that offered feedback that led to product updates.

“I know a lot of companies are struggling with that,” said Jenn.

“Sometimes we even get to do that in person, but a lot of times we use the systems we already have in place to automate the experience,” added Betsy. “So we have a list of customers that mentioned a certain feature or area of the product. We know they’ve contributed and sent out an automated message from the product team.”

Read next: Use this to know which customers are talking about what topics

That email can be as simple as:

Thank you for your feedback. It was super helpful. We made these changes: <list of highlights>. <Link to more.> 

The team uses the Voxpopme search functionality to find trends and also uses ProdPad where one person on the call takes notes while the other interviews.

Setup for remote research with Zoom

It’s important to make use of the technology you already use and like. For many of us, that includes using Zoom for the calls and then importing those calls into your Voxpopme account for analysis and more.

Importing Zoom videos downloaded to your computer

There are two ways Zoom users save their meeting videos. One is to their computer. The other is to the Zoom cloud. To import the video saved to your computer, simply upload it to your Voxpopme account from your computer.

Importing Zoom videos from the Zoom cloud

Record your Zoom interviews to the Zoom cloud and then import them to the Voxpopme platform using the Zoom-Voxpopme integration.

Once the connection is authorized, you can import the videos directly in your dashboard.

voxpopme zoom integration

Download link: Zoom – Voxpopme integration in the Zoom Marketplace

The importance of the right tech

Talking with customers through Zoom can make everyone’s life easier. They are already used to using it. So are the insights professionals.

From there, remote research should be easy. That includes the initial interview to analysis and sharing of results. Betsy recounted the story of a customer who used to spent a lot of time editing interviews into clips that could be shared internally.

“He said ‘with Voxpopme I literally just highlight the transcript and add it to a clip. It’s so much easier.'” Betsy recounted the customer’s story.

“We use Zoom for our calls, but then also use video surveys,” said Niamh. “It all goes into the same account in the system so we can layer learnings.”

Sometimes it might be necessary to add new technology to your market research tech stack, but if you are already using Zoom for customer interviews, it’s an easy integration into Voxpopme.

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What’s a question you’d like to ask consumers?