The purpose of qualitative research is narrower than that of quantitative research. It is not meant to be representative, it is very descriptive, it is not structured and closed, but rather open and inclusive and its tools are the researcher, observations, interviews, focus groups, documents and more.
According to this approach, there is no need to examine many cases, but rather to learn one case in-depth.
Through the in-depth understanding of a single case one can better understand an entire phenomenon.
Qualitative research can be about people’s lives, attitudes, feelings, behavior (such as consumer behavior), organizational performance and social relationships.
The purposes of qualitative research:
1. “To hear the unique voice” of different groups in society.
2. To give new interpretations to meaningful phenomenon.
3. For new theoretical ideas progress.
Various kinds of qualitative methods create a wealth of detailed data using a relatively small number of participants.
Elixir research institute uses the following qualitative models:
Based on intensive interaction between a professional moderator and a small group of subjects (between 8 and 12), whose participants answer pre-determined criterion.
The focus groups enable observation of a variety of ideas and opinions being raised, which enables the creation of a hypothetic model describing the way people think and act.
Focus groups are a useful tool in the collection of in-depth information on layers of emotion and attitudes towards a product, service or idea and also in exposing conscious and unconscious (in the subconscious) layers of attitudes.
What are the advantages of focus groups?
- fast data collection
- Wealth of data
- Enable the accumulation of reactions from all participants and comparisons among them
The historical meaning of the term “in-depth interview” is- a form of unstructured questions which are , used to encourage subjects to provide information in the most open, unstructured manner.
The interview is conducted at the subject’s venue, situation and schedule of choice.
The interview is conducted by an experienced interviewer and according to a pre-determined, specific guideline.
The interviewer expands on prepared questions at certain points during the interview, in order to arrive at a complete understanding of the topic by the interviewee.
In the framework of the interview, the interviewee gets as much freedom to express him/herself as possible.
The interview lasts about one hour and is recorded and transcribed for the purposes of in-depth content analysis of the findings.
What are the advantages of the in-depth interview?
- The approach of in-depth, unstructured and open interviews enables subjects to define the world in words and terms unique to them.
- A wealth of data.
- The personal situation of “one-on-one” gives subjects a feeling of importance and gets them involved and committed to the research.
- A technique suited for many different fields.
Keeping track of mystery customers makes use of trained customers? in order to anonymously evaluate service components, workers’ fairness and honesty, professionalism, level of service and product quality.
The need to make use of a system of mystery customers arises when a service or product are no longer unique and/or when they have competitors. In such a situation the quality of service has decisive meaning and is usually the key to the success or failure of the product/service. It is therefore appropriate that this component in a careful evaluation of the organization is practiced routinely. This is exactly where the need to integrate mystery customer system control in the organization’s routine activities.
Research shows that organizations trying to reclaim disappointed customers invest efforts of up to 10 times higher than those needed to keep current ones.
Reasons for customer abandonment, according to order of importance:
· 69% of customers leave because of deficient service
· 13% because of low product quality
· 9% because of competition with other similar products
· 5% for other reasons
· 3% because of relocation
· 1% because of death…
The 40’s were a milestone in the application of these methods of sampling and testing, while the term “mystery customers” was first coined by Wilmark, who began making use of this research tool .
The method flourished and gained widespread use in the U.S. beginning in the 70’s and 80’s. With the development of the internet, exposure and awareness to it has widened and today it is accepted around the world. Today organizations invest amounts assessed at 1.5 billion dollars in mystery customer systems.
The use of these tools is getting more sophisticated and advanced with the development of technology. The internet enables receiving feedback and passing on results in practically real time.
The advantages in using programs integrating mystery customer systems
The program, which is usually conducted over a long period of time, enables measurement and transparency of the service provided by the organization to its customers, based on structured criterion.
The program operates with the intent and goal of preserving customers and preventing abandonment by enabling the location of weak spots in the service system and as a result, quick and direct action to solve problems and defects stemming from the quality of service. The fact that workers in the organization are aware of such systems operating within the organization causes “positive tension” and greater awareness to components of service quality and professionalism which are tested within the program’s framework.
Sometimes, these programs are used to locate exceptional workers/ groups worthy of reward as part of the reward system based on personal and /or group achievements.
How is a mystery customer program built?
The program is usually built with the collaboration of an expert research team from within Elixir, which is made up of experts on the subject. The process of building the program takes place together with the client and is accompanied by meetings aimed at gaining an in-depth knowledge of the client organization’s activity characteristics. After the preparation stage which includes meetings with work teams and managers, a research tool is formulated which is based on an accompanying questionnaire in which clear and measurable criterion are incorporated while the scenarios of the meeting between the client and the service provider are taken from every day situations in which the client organization and its workers take part. The assessment team is given task-specific training, at the end of which they adapt speech and/or action techniques which characterize real customers in a similar situation.
How are the hidden inspections carried out?
Two types of customers are usually used: mystery phone customers and mystery face-to-face customers. While mystery phone customers test the level of service and sales of companies and businesses as it is conducted over the phone, the face-to-face mystery customer tests the level of service and sales of businesses which usually operate with customers face-to-face. Sometimes organizations use inspections which use both kinds of testing methods with the aim of fully analyzing a number of service and professionalism aspects.
How is the feedback received?
The feedback is received in the form of reports which document each visit and/or phone call which took place, as well as in reports which concentrate the activities on a monthly/quarterly/yearly basis. The documentation of calls and the visual recoding of face-to-face inspections (if this is done with the use of a hidden camera) are also given to the client organization for the purpose of conducting feedback discussions with work teams. In these reports a comparison is made with results attained from previous inspections, which can serve to asses if and to what level there has been improvement or if the level of service has deteriorated. When the organization arrives at the desired results it is possible and even recommended to define new service and professional goals.
Who use mystery consumer systems?
Banks, hotels, car rental companies, restaurants and coffee shops, shopping malls.
The institute’s team of trained consultants provides our customers with a wide range of services in the following fields:
· Statistic methods
· Complimentary research for organizational consultants/psychologists
· Marketing strategy
· Organizational human resources development
· Development of consumers service training programs (external and internal organizational service system).
The institute offers its clients a wide variety of consultancy services and development of specialized training programs in the fields of research (research methods and statistics), human resource development within the organization and quality of service.
The training programs we offer are custom made for the client’s needs.
In the field of training, we act along with leading and experienced business partners in their respective fields, which act as consulting and supervising bodies.