Happy cheeky young brown haired girl having a video chat or taking a selfie sitting smiling on couch

Video Responses “Humanize” Research Results & Drive Organizational Impact

Open ended questions (OEs) are a very useful tool in the research industry. These questions begin with “how” or “what” and do not restrict responses to “yes” or “no” or a closed set of specific options. Rather, they are “open” to free-form answers that are more explanatory. Often, because respondents use their own words, OEs allow for reporting that is more insightful, and sometimes uncover surprising information that adds depth to results.

The addition of a video option to open-ended questions (VOE) has been evolving thanks to the prevalence of video cameras in computers and mobile phones. By incorporating camera technology into survey taking, we can capture footage of respondents talking about their experiences. This allows us to gather more sharable responses with greater detail and emotion, which often leads to a report from MMR back to the client that is more tailored and contextual than can be created with the responses from traditional text open ends.

VOE Process
Integrating VOEs into a survey is a straightforward process. When respondents click on the survey link, their device is checked to see if it also has a working camera. Before asking our OE questions, we secure permission to capture the recording. Respondents are then instructed to record their answers using their mobile or webcam. The video is automatically recorded and, upon completion, is uploaded to a secure cloud site with an identifier that ties to the respondent’s survey data.

Example Project
Recently, a client came to MMR wanting to identify what was resonating with customers regarding a new video platform. The client wanted to compare the new platform with earlier platforms, and also learn whether customers were having any frustrations. The results would then be used to understand what to emphasize as they tailored communications about their platform.

Additionally, the client wanted to “bring the insights to life” and build some excitement among the executive team when communicating the research results internally. MMR collaborated with this client to develop a custom approach using VOEs as a method to address his specific need. The client’s new video platform was a major initiative with significant investment, so capturing customer excitement for it would likely return more enhanced results. As well, actually seeing the customer’s enthusiasm would improve the results presentation and create more impact, leading to better executive action.

Impact of using VOEs
The project uncovered a couple surprises, including the passion with which customers spoke of this new platform (both for and against it) and some unique learnings that cannot be communicated via bar charts alone. The VOEs put personality and context around the numbers in a way that traditional PowerPoint cannot convey, and allowed MMR to deliver results in a format that was customized to the needs of this client and the project. As a result, the report was more widely shared inside the client organization than traditional, less engaging results from text open ends would have been.

From the client: Video open-ends were a low-cost, high-potential add-on to this research – and in this case, they turned out to be a home run. They helped to “humanize” the results of this important research, and they also were utilized in other diverse and meaningful ways to convey the benefits as well as opportunities for this new product from the customer’s POV.

Key Learnings

Participation: Not everyone has a webcam, nor is everyone willing to record themselves. However, the ones who do agree do not seem to be self-conscious and share more information than in text OEs. One tip: be prepared to see some things that aren’t necessarily ready for direct use in reports, such as people sitting in bed.

Survey Design: VOEs do add more time to the interview than typical open ends. Remember in the survey questions to provide more guidance than usual to respondents ie. What specifically do you think about X? Why do you say that? Try to explain in 30 seconds why. This will help elicit more relevant, concise responses.

Post Data Collection Analysis: Processing VOEs requires more work post data collection. Listening to a respondent talk takes 5 – 10 times longer than just reading comments. It is also time-consuming to edit responses, and sometimes requires use of a video editor. Review the video files daily and have someone tag the best videos seen each day, perhaps writing a brief description of each. This will save time on the back end when choosing which clips to include in the report.

Reverting Back to Text: We help clients define a general idea of what they want videos to accomplish and portray before deciding to include VOEs. With daily review, once we decide that enough material has been captured, we can revert to typed open-ends.

When to Use?
Not all projects are suited to VOEs. If open-end data is going to be coded, VOEs are rarely appropriate because the videos first must be transcribed for coding to be more efficient. But just as with graphic videos, VOEs are a customized solution for a specific need, such as for questions that lend themselves to detailed responses, or where context and emotion will provide greater impact. Most of the people who decide to record are surprisingly eloquent. Having energetic and enthusiastic respondents extol the virtues of a product or service (in appropriate surroundings), can convey valuable insights in a way standard, written open-ends cannot. As well, in cases where a product/service needs to be improved, a single video of someone describing a bad experience can have far more impact than a page of numbers.