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Using a “Whole Person” Approach for Better Data and Happier Respondents

Here at Southpaw, our mission is to help our clients understand what people think, feel, and do.

In all the work we do, we apply a holistic “whole person” approach, by recognizing that everyone we talk to, whether they are department store shoppers, homeless youth, or elite professional audiences, are people first, with thoughts, feelings, expectations, hopes, dreams, frustrations, and anxieties. They are not just “consumers” but also children and parents, business owners and employees, caregivers and care recipients. And like most people, they want whatever they are doing – from buying a new car to engaging in an online interview – to be as easy                                                                                                             and frictionless as possible.

Therefore, whenever we design a research project and craft a survey or interview guide, we are careful to frame the research design and formulate questions in a way that signals loud and clear to the respondents, “We want to know how you think, feel and act, but we’re not going to waste your time.” Some of the ways we do this:

  • We respect their time. I remember when 30-minute surveys were typical, but times (and attention spans) change. These days, I won’t go much beyond 15 minutes, and ten is preferable.
  • We are honest with our respondents. If a focus group is going to take 75 minutes, I won’t tell you you’ll be done in 60.
  • We use a lot of asynchronous methodologies, like online communities, where people can participate on their own schedule rather than ours.
  • We meet folks where they are (within reason!). So, for example, for some projects – especially those with younger consumers – we use mobile-friendly platforms because pretty much everyone has a phone and it’s always with them.
  • We word questions so that they are easy to read/hear, to understand, and to answer, avoiding overly complex sentence construction and insider jargon.

With the information and background provided by our clients and partners, we learn about the audiences we’re polling and craft our language and methodologies to speak to them directly and authentically – and respect that they are “doing us a solid” in sharing their attitudes, preferences and experiences with us.

When we treat our respondents with respect, empathy, and consideration, they are more than happy to share with us their aspirations, fears, and obstacles. In turn, our clients can make smart decisions about how to reach and talk to their customers or employees in a way that says, “We get it – and here’s how we can make your life easier.”

Who do you want a better understanding of? Let us help you. Contact us.


Jessica