So why are tech checks important? Technical capability of participants has been a long standing need in the world of Market Research. Like many things, COVID-19 catapulted our industry to shift our services to a virtual medium. While this online shift was already occurring, mandates, shutdowns, and the urgency to quarantine left research in a position to only exist in a non-physical capacity. In 2021, a PEW Research center survey found that, “a majority of Americans considered the internet essential to them personally during the pandemic, and four-in-ten used tech in new ways”. This societal shift opened an entirely new bottle of potential for recruiters and researchers.
Online Research, much like its in-person counterpart, comes with both strengths and limitations. Some researchers feel that online interviewing lacks a personal touch with less observation in regard to body language whilst speaking to a participant. Online research also presents challenges for product testing if design calls for an “in the moment” experience or in a group setting. The advantages, however, can greatly outweigh the obstacles. Online based methodology allows for participants in various locations to collaborate and share their thoughts both synchronously and asynchronously in ways not previously possible. There is a high level of convenience for researchers and participants alike as research can be conducted at home without the impacts of factors such as traffic, finding a facility, or parking.
In lieu of physical facilities, researchers save greatly on costs by substituting facilities with interview software. Many online platforms have risen in popularity as a result of COVID-19. Platforms such as Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts have become household names. However, with the seemingly endless variety of different online chat and research platforms, there is a need to ensure participants are prepared when scheduling online interviews or activities. This is where technical checks, better known as “tech checks” come into play.
The term “technical check” probably sounds much more time consuming and difficult than it is. However, this is not the case! Tech checks can be conducted in as little as 15-20 minutes. They consist of giving the participants early access to the platform of your choosing and running through access, along with any platform functions necessary for the research activity. This quick test run helps to ensure participants are able to connect features such as their video and audio. The goal of a tech check is to run a shortened “mock” run of the research, prior to the actual study taking place. It’s recommended that tech checks are scheduled 24-48 hours in advance of the research. This window allows time for any troubleshooting but is also close enough to keep the routine top of mind for participants. Our team at Echo recommends communicating the need for tech checks up front and at the start of the recruitment process so that candidates' expectations are aligned and they may make time in their schedule ahead of the research. This quick step, when planned and communicated properly, helps assure a seamless research experience for clients, moderators, and participants!
Would your team like to know more about tech checks? Need help scheduling or conducting a tech check? Give Echo a call!