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A symbiotic partnership

At Crowdtech we love nothing more than to develop a long-term working relationship with our clients, and to witness their panel journey develop over time. RCI Financial Services  is a client with whom we have built an ongoing engagement of which we are proud. Providing specialist financial services for Renault, Nissan, Dacia and Alpine, RCI Financial Services facilitates for individuals or businesses to buy, hire or lease new and used vehicles. So where does their relationship with Crowdtech fit in? An exploration of customer satisfaction For the past two years, RCI Financial Services has partnered with Crowdtech to run an ongoing set of customer satisfaction surveys. Harnessing their extensive database of over 4,000 users, RCI Financial Services runs a new survey approximately once a month, each time exploring a different element of what makes their customers happy, and how they can continue to improve their service to them. Clearly they’re on the right track when it comes to keeping customers happy: Using only a prize draw, the panels achieve approximately a 25% engagement response – a very high rate for an ongoing panel. This speaks to the fact that customers feel a sense of resonance with the brand and choose to share their opinions about the business, without needing great incentivization to do so. Symbiotic growth for both parties The development of Crowdtech’s working relationship with RCI Financial Services has been the picture of a symbiotic engagement. Initially Crowdtech managed the entire panel process, from questionnaire design to technical panel operations to analysis and output. As the two companies have worked hand-in-hand, RCI Financial Services has taken on more of the project design work, utilising Crowdtech’s operational expertise to maintain smooth panel management. This embodies what we term our Hybrid SaaS model, a model which successfully straddles the provision of a technical platform with human guidance and interaction where required. At Crowdtech, our human resource comes in the form of project managers, technical support and for a full suite of market research capabilities, we also harness the input of our sister company MWM2. Crowdtech’s training upskills staff An important element of what Crowdtech offers our clients is ongoing training and upskilling on our platforms. RCI Financial Services is a client that has made the most of this opportunity. Accessing all the ready training and help that has been available to them, RCI Financial Services has successfully upskilled its customer satisfaction team on how to get the best value out of the Crowdtech platform. Being involved in project design - all the way from questionnaire stage to output analysis - significantly improves the outcome of the survey for clients. Having input at all stages of the project means that the results are well aligned with the initial question or hypothesis that they are wishing to explore. Leaning on Crowdtech to effectively manage the panel or community process is the ideal way for both parties to achieve a mutually optimum result. A relationship that continues to flourish From surveys about their new website, to exploring perceptions of electronic vehicles, to understanding how Covid-19 has impacted on people’s finances, RCI Financial Services has conducted a vast array of research via Crowtech’s panel services over the past two years. We at Crowdtech look forward to growing this relationship with RCI Financial Services, as they continue to find ways of keeping their customers engaged and happy.

Enabling a deeper level of probing

Online qualitative research has developed in leaps and bounds over the past decade, and accelerated further due to the world’s increased digitization during the global pandemic. At Crowdtech we strive to stay ahead of the digital curve, improving and enhancing our online research offerings wherever possible. Running online qualitative research communities is an important element of our work. Naturally, effective moderation is critical to the success of any qualitative community, and it is our role to ensure that moderators can carry out their jobs in this space as well as possible. Since qualitative research moved online, moderators have faced the challenge of how to probe deeply and effectively, without the benefit of traditional face-to-face interaction. Enabling moderators to probe in real-time To address this challenge, we have developed what we call our Staircase tool. This brand new tool -part of our community platform- enables customized smart-routing of questions in a survey, the main effect of which is to enable moderators to probe individual responses in real-time, before respondents move onto the next question. Typically, probing would take place after respondents had moved forwards with a survey, meaning that answers to probed questions would be recorded ‘after the fact’. Now the Staircase options allows moderators to drill down on exact responses in the moment of response, enabling moderator and respondent to ‘walk the staircase’ together, getting into a deeper discussion on a certain point or topic. It does this is by honing respondents’ focus in on each individual question rather than presenting them with a set of questions at a time. This allows for deeper concentration on each question, in a way that is customized to individual respondents, taking into account how they have answered the previous question. Allows for drilling-down in qualitative research A further benefit of the Staircase tool that’s part of our Community platform is that it effectively brings the logic of a quantitative survey into a qualitative panel. While the two branches of research have different applications and uses, there are elements of each that can benefit the other. Quantitative research has long had the ability to drill down for greater granularity of research. On the other hand, qualitative research has typically been on a flatter level, set up for in-depth engagement, with the opportunity to probe to a second level on an ad hoc basis. The Staircase tool now marries the best of both branches together, enabling the drilling down process to happen in the qualitative space by utilizing the survey logic of quantitative research. This has the result of being able to address any topic or assess any attitude or behaviour at a deep qualitative level yet following a structured, quantitative approach. Further, it allows respondents to only see their own answers and moderation correspondence. This results in keeping the conversation more focused on their own thoughts and perceptions, rather than being influenced by the rest of the community. Online qualitative research achieves reach and depth Often research solutions focus more on quantitative than qualitative work, due to the fact that the bulk of research sits within this space. At Crowdtech we recognise that both elements are vitally important to our overall offering to clients, and as such as aim to develop both to their optimal capacity. Therefore the Crowdtech staircase is one of the benefits our Community platform has to offer. Digitization has opened up qualitative research in numerous ways, but also posed some difficulties to overcome. With the development of various tools and techniques – the latest being our Staircase tool – we are confident that our online qualitative offering not only matches, but truly surpasses traditional face-to-face alternatives. This results in wider reaching surveys, faster turnaround and now, thanks to the Staircase, greater depth than ever before.

Why leading companies have chosen crowdtech

Coca Cola, Nestle, ABN AMRO, Tata Steel, they have all chosen Crowdtech as their research technology supplier. Why? We’ll give you seven reasons. It has it allCrowdtech’s All-In-One Research Solution has it all. Crowdtech offers both traditional surveys as well as the potential to integrate quant and qual to launch your own research community: a modern and very effective market research technique. Easy to useThere is no requirement for a three day training course when you start with the Crowdtech’s All-in-One Research Solution. Our Research Solution is a hosted service with intuitive user experience and is easy to use. Excellent supportShould you come unstuck : we are there for you. Our excellent support department is not only available online but also by phone. Our dedicated and friendly support members will guide you through any problem you may encounter. Quick and good insights in resultsCrowdtech Dashboard can be used to display the results in an online dashboard. You can circulate results/KPI's to different departments and levels within your organisation and can be accessed through all devices. Superb information securityYour data is in safe hands at Crowdtech. Our technical and organizational infrastructure is subjected to strict (ISO) annual audits and privacy aspects are embedded in every step of our software development. Continuous improvements and innovationWe continuously listen to and learn from our many clients, so not a month goes without our development team finding a new way to enhance our all-in-one research solution making it better for both the researcher and the respondents. Proven track recordCrowdtech has over 15 years of experience in developing innovative technology and services for Market research. From our launch in 2003 focusing on the Dutch market we now have hundreds of organizations using Crowdtech’s research software Through our International focus

Agile means agile

Today’s fast paced world means agility is no longer a trendy fad or a future goal but a business necessity. Tactical, operational and even strategic decision making needs match the pace of consumer and customer trends and changes. However, agility is often confused with speed, but real agility is getting to insights faster and more cost effectively. Crowdtech continues to light the way in the business of insights and here is how we ensure our research is truly agile: The optimal path to the insights must be supported by technology with a full tool kit of methods A well-managed community can turn around insights extremely quickly, even within hours Our Client service teams are embedded into your scrums, systems and structures. Crowdtech technology facilitates your research instead of your research adapting to the platform Intuitive technology will both accelerate delivery and deliver the quality of learning from human interactions True agility is achieved through having access to a creative tool kit, supported by integrated technology and working with a partner who can be embedded in your processes. Follow our Twitter and LinkedIn pages, or sign up for our newsletter to receive regular updates.  Over the coming weeks we will be run a series of blogs exploring each of our innovations.

Why customer panels are better than access panels

I am writing this article because I believe it is very important that you know who you are listening to so you know for sure you can trust them and they are who they say they are. With respondents from an access panel it is difficult to find out who they really are, which is why I attached such weight to customer panels. WHAT IS A CUSTOMER PANEL? Before going into the benefits of a customer panel let's first define what a customer panel is. A customer panel is often also described as a dedicated panel or private panel. However, these are access panels disguised as customer panels, they come in different shapes and forms: The most basic form of an Access PanelIn their most basic form, Access Panels come with a background variable showing that a specific person could be a customer of your company. This person is not recruited through your company and you will never be certain if that person is actually your customer. An Access Panel is accessed by many different research companies, brands and organisations, so any relationship developed is solely between the access panel company and the respondents, not between a brand and its customers. When your Access Panel provider recruits for youAn access panel provider can recruit specifically for you and provides other background variables that are important to you. So far so good, just make sure their recruitment is solid and they are not asking blunt questions like "Are you customer of brand X?". The only issue with this kind of panel is that most of the time it is not very customisable and these respondents will also be utilised in studies for other companies. The real deal: A Customer panelA genuine customer panel is built only for your company: with your look & feel, with your tone of voice, a recruitment process that aligns with your other communication and panellists recruited from your own customers. You and your colleagues are the only ones talking to your panellists and all the data that is collected is yours. The panellists know what they signed up for and will be happy to co-operate because they have previously engaged with your organisation and brand. THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A CUSTOMER PANEL AND AN ACCESS PANEL In this article I will compare the most recent type of customer panel (the real deal) with access panels. By showing you the pros and cons I think I will show you why your company should really be implementing a customer panel. How motivated are your members? If a person joins your customer panel they do this because they want to help your company and they want to be involved with your company. People who are in an access panel did not join to help your company. They probably want to earn some money in their spare time and at best like to fill in questionnaires. This raises a few questions: Are they really prepared to help or will they do whatever it takes to earn some money? If they join the questionnaire to earn money, how can you make sure their answers are true and that they are who they say they are? If they are motivated by money, why would they spend more time than absolutely necessary on completing the survey? Our experience with customer panels is that you do not need to pay a panellist anything. They like to help your company and like to be involved. This can be seen in the length of open answers, these are 85% longer than those from access panellists. High quality engagement from your members People who are in a customer panel take time to participate and are prepared to answer your questions. You can see this in the average time it takes them to complete a survey compared to access panellist. You do not see any straight liners (every question in a matrix gets the same answer) from your own customers and open answers are more elaborate. What are the differences in costs? If you regularly want to talk to your customers a customer panel is always the better option. It takes some time and effort to setup and you pay an annual fee for using panel management software, but the variable cost (cost per complete) is close to zero, since incentivizing customer panels is generally not necessary. With access panels you pay per complete, so one advantage is that you have no fixed costs. So if you are only looking at the cost of your surveys, then you have to conduct surveys regularly to get a cost advantage from customer panels. Which research panel has more flexibility? Once the panellist has joined your panel you can ask your panellist what you want, when you want. However, what happens when you need speed for agile working? Ask your panellist if they are prepared to react within 4 hours and within your customer panel I am sure you will find a group of panellists who are willing. You need mystery shoppers or community members for a pop up community? It is easy to recruit them from you panel. You have highly motivated panellists so there are always people who want to help. A research panel that allows you to engage By having a private panel your company shows that you are interested in the opinions and ideas of your consumers. People like to be engaged, so this is not only a way of getting insights but also a marketing tool. Never forget that a customer panel is not a national representative sample. People who joined your panel like your brand or want to contribute to your company. They are not representative of the whole population. So if you want to know what the whole population thinks then a customer panel is not suitable for that study. GETTING STARTED WITH A CUSTOMER PANEL To be a successful company you have to listen to your customers and know what is important to them. One of the best ways to do this is by starting a customer panel. At Crowdtech we have spent the last decade helping organisations improve customer satisfaction through customer panels. I have seen a lot of success stories in every industry sector and am happy to share them with you.

10 steps to make research communities work for you

If you want to stay one step ahead of the market and gain more consumer nuance than your competitors, you will need the backing of an online community research. By using this market research tool you will gain valuable insights into the market and in particular the needs, perspective and satisfaction of your target audience. This article gives you the top 10 key steps towards making online community research work for you. 1. Agency and Client make a Great Team The number one priority when looking at online community research is to have a great research team and define the roles each one plays. These roles can be fully outsourced to your partner agency, absorbed within client side research teams or balanced through a hybrid model somewhere between the two. The main roles in the team should include: The Strategic Director - this individual heads up the direction of the team. Their role is to make sure that the strategy is right for the type of information you need and that the research meets the wider business objectives. Engagement Manager - this role involves keeping the online research community running efficiently and getting participants on board. Engagement managers build a community infrastructure that keeps all the members involved and encourages engagement. Content Producer - this is the person who will be in charge of producing content on a continuous basis. The best content will inevitably come from the online research community and this individual will take that and make it applicable to the target audience. Project Manager/Operations Lead - this is a liaison role, and this person will engage with everyone involved from the stakeholders right through to the online community research team. They will provide and analyse metrics to assess how well the community is working. 2. You must have efficient technology It is imperative to use a provider who can offer the type of platform that is just what you need. User experience must be paramount: If someone finds the platform difficult they will stop using it, so be sure to spend time looking at the aesthetics and making sure there is an intuitive user interface. Vitally, look at this from both a researcher and a respondent view, the technology must be seamless for both sides. 3. Proactive engagement is crucial Although technology is a key factor you also need to understand that even if the platform is great to use and gives an easy aesthetic, if people still don't engage the online community will fail. Your Engagement Manager will run the platform, interact with the participants and encourage them to come forward with thoughts and ideas. Areas to look at include: What would make people join the community? What will keep them coming back? What sort of communication are they expecting? Do they know how the information they give will be used? Do they feel that their contribution is valuable? It is the role of the community manager to ensure that all these issues are addressed and that the online community is a success. 4. Inviting the right participants The type of user you are looking for differs greatly from those that generally participate in other forms of research. Online community research has many interactions, so unlike those people who will fill in questionnaires or take part in a focus group for money, your respondents will be engaged for longer periods of time. You will be speaking with the sort of person who enjoys contributing, being heard and who want to make a difference. The way to ensure you get the right type of participant is to send specific and targeted invitations. This means that those who sign up really want to be involved. In many private online research communities you tend to get anywhere between 30% to 60% of members being active each project but an important contributor to achieving the higher levels is by effective participant selection. 5. Be open to creative ways of getting data An online research community is a unique new way of obtaining data and provides dialogue that evolves and offers valuable insights. Yet it needs to have creativity to ensure respondents are co-operating either through engaging surveys and material, or fun activities such as group challenges, brainstorming session and blogging challenges. Working with an agency that is specialised in this field yet has a wide range of communities across business sectors is key as we know what works and what does not. 6. Keep the members motivated When people sign up to online research communities they tend to do so because they want to make a contribution that they know is valued. This type on intrinsic motivation diminishes over time so you want to make sure your participation levels stay high by introducing new ways of motivating and engaging the users. A good way to do this is to have access to a variety of research techniques, introducing a mix of creative research and extremely effective group moderation. A good moderator has a range of tricks and tips to ensure you get the best out of your community. We find that feedback to respondents post research projects is extremely valuable, telling them a summary of the findings and what you will do with the results. This intrinsic motivation is enhanced by knowing they have made an impact. 7. Knowing how often to engage respondents From the outset set clear goals and timescales and make sure members know what is expected from them and how often you will be talking to them. This means they stay focused on completing research tasks so the end goal can be achieved. As ever there are no standard KPi's on this, some communities can have highly frequent research cycles (sometimes weekly) whereas others can be a monthly engagement. Getting the balance between staying on your audience's radar without over working them is crucial. 8. Using the right dialogue There are 2 main ways that people interact with each other in online market research communities: Synchronous dialogue - users interact with each other in real time using an online chat. This is a great method when you want to hold a meeting or discuss an idea. Asynchronous dialogue - users interact via posted content and people make their own comments at times convenient to them. This is the most common form when communicating in online research forums. Of course, both can be used but you need to make sure you pick the right method for the results you need to reach. 9. Keep aware of what is going on Make sure you keep a close eye on the way the Community is performing both at cohort level and with individual members. Are they still creating content and are others responding to this? What is the percentage of posters vs responders? Can you intervene if people struggle with tasks? A good and efficient community manager is crucial, their experience is often the difference in making communities successful. 10. Community Research Technology is a means to an end A good research Community needs to keep you in touch with the needs of your target audience and allow you the agility to make changes, to keep talking and listening to your customers. This flexibility allows you to cover a range of research objectives, whether they be quick turnaround tactical questions or pre planned strategic research projects. The technology should help you connect with your customers, increase your insights and maximise brand understanding. Your research platform must be able to support the key success factors in communities; strong engagement, flexible research, well recruited and balanced sample, and it must be intuitive so your team can seamlessly execute great projects.

Community engagement is a two-way conversation

When requesting participants to complete a survey or a focus group you are opening up a conversation between the brand and the customer. Like any conversation this is an opportunity for both sides to share their thoughts and to ask questions. So often in market research, and especially with access panels, this is often one sided, the brand pays a small incentive yet asks a lot of questions, gains real insights and supports their business objectives. Participants have a one-way conversation yet they can’t hear the brand on the other side. The power of communities is where both sides of the conversation are getting an equal amount of satisfaction. It is one of the best ways of recognising participants’ efforts and is one of the most effective aspects to increase engagement. It lets participants know that they have been heard, that their feedback matters and has been taken on-board. Why share results? Sharing information on the main findings, what in future will change and why you want to make this change will ensure members stay engaged throughout future phases Engaging participants by sharing updates on how the research will be used will make recruitment for any future projects much easier. Contributing and having their opinion heard is a central and key motivator in signing up to a research community. Confirming that members’ opinions are driving change embraces that motivation and reduces or can totally negate the reliance on incentives An over reliance on incentives can be dangerous as the conversation becomes a transactional one. As well as the typical prize draws try and be creative and link this to your brand: ‘a tour of the factory’, or ‘exclusive VIP access to events’ for example.   How to share results: You can involve your marketing team – sharing feedback can become part of your marketing messages, which will not only engage those who took part in the study, but also those who didn’t. Simply knowing that you have asked customers to take part in meaningful and impactful research and are now sharing with them the effect that it has had on the product/service or the brand itself, will start influencing perception of your entire customer base; the secondary result of this will be that more of your customer-base will look to take part in the next research experience, meaning that the sample of willing participants will be bigger next time around. Ask your internal insight team to follow up with everyone who has been involved in the study. A quick internal update to the insight team on how you used the research is all they will need to create a compelling follow-up email, newsletter, infographic, of video update detailing the impacts and changes made to those who took part A simple forum discussion or which allows the participants to quickly and easily find the trail of impacts and changes whenever they please, or through a series posts by the moderator of the online community. Keep this channel widely available for your customers to suggest topics for discussions – you will be surprised how much detail and how many valuable insights this will generate. The best technology should have a dedicated feedback mechanism, and this should be easy for the end user to simply click and share a message.   If participants know the impact they're having on the business, then they know their contribution was acknowledged and valuable.

Smart ways to recruit for customer panels & communities

While many factors influence how active and involved a Customer panel is, so often it starts with recruitment. Whilst "Brand fans" are great to hear from and easier to recruit, you also want to onboard customers who are a little more critical. Successful recruitment consists of two elements.: firstly, you need to know where to find your target group, both physically and digitally. Secondly, you have to convince them to become a panel member, so it is important to reach them with the right message. The main reason for becoming a member of a customer panel revolves around "wanting to contribute and to help your organization". Include what you will use the panel for and make the "what’s in it for them" concrete. For example, for customers of a housing association it was key for members to know they could join in the discussion on topics that are personally relevant to them, such as making the home more sustainable or burglary protection. We also find that people are motivated by the exclusivity ("not just accessible to everyone") and this emphasis yields great benefits. Be mindful though that the right message is dependent on the target group that you want to address. After formulating the right message then naturally customers need to see it. By communicating the message through multiple channels you reach a larger, more diverse group of customers (if you only recruit through a newsletter, you only reach customers who read the newsletter). Map the touch points (contact moments) with your customers and see which ones can be used for recruitment. An example is a supermarket that uses these various options to recruit members for its customer panel: - In-store advertising pillars were used displaying an invitation to become a member of the customer panel. To make it accessible, a QR code was scanned for immediate registration. - For customers using the supermarket's wifi, an invitation appeared on their phone to register. - At the cash register, flyers were added to shopping bags including an invitation for the customer panel. - An invitation was also placed on the back of the receipt. - Finally, invitations were displayed in the supermarket magazines.  It is important to realize that recruiting panel members is not a one-off promotion, but something that must be continuous. Every customer panel has a natural drop out rate. By continuously recruiting you can largely absorb this, and the size will remain in order. Keeping an eye on the composition of your panel is also important. There is a good chance you will find that younger target groups are more difficult to recruit and to keep involved. To compensate for this, you need to recruit more specifically, for example with the help of social media campaigns. Below we have detailed the typical recruitment methods and our thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of each one: Direct e-mailThe most used form of recruitment. Reliable and effective which generally yields a conversion of 5 to 10%. Corporate websiteA call-to-action on your own website has the benefit of boosting your image (it shows that you are open to the opinion of customers). What it yields is totally dependent on where the invitation is on the website, how prominent it is, number of visitors, etc. Corporate social media channelsA call to action on one's own social media channels can be effective, depending on the number of fans of these platforms but the latter says it all: they are mainly fans. Therefore, it is advisable to use this channel sparingly. NewsletterA communication channel with many pitfalls. Easy to do wrong, difficult to do right. However, if this succeeds, it can be effective. For example, did you know that the conversion will increase by 42% if you place only one call-to-action in your newsletter instead of four? Customer serviceA customer service representative asks a calling customer to become a member of the panel. Can be effective, but of course not if a customer is completely "out of your mind". Provides a different type of customer than the online channels. There is no single answer to recruitment, but the simple answer is to work with a partner agency who can work with you to define your recruitment strategy.

Survey Tool - Superior, more functional and more beautiful

"Survey 2.0", is our name for the next phase development of our survey software and will send even better-looking questionnaires to respondents. Visually attractive questions are a key component of gaining higher response rates. In addition, it is important that, for example, complex surveys that traditionally work better on pc’s and tablets function seamlessly on mobile phones. Survey 2.0 allows you to create one questionnaire layout that reads perfectly on all device types and browsers, meaning you can send out a survey without the extra step of testing across differing devices. We will have our new version Survey 2.0 live in the summer" Better integration with other data sources "With Crowdtech we offer an integrated platform for all forms of research, but it is also important to be able to link our platform to other systems. After all, modern day market research consists of many sources, so it is important to bring this together in a smart way. We are doing this with the development of a Rest API laying the foundation for customers to fully integrate questionnaire data from Crowdtech into CRM systems or other databases. For example, two way integration into Salesforce or Zapier is fully automated in an efficient and easy to implement manner." Real-time data loading into surveys "For an integrated platform, we also require tools that fit together perfectly. This is why we are launching an even smother collaboration between our panel management system and our Survey tool and this will be available in the coming quarter. This will allow you to load real-time data from the Research panel into Survey, enabling flexible and efficient use of this data in questionnaires, communication (e-mails) and data analysis". Quicker "To keep innovating, the platform needs natural maintenance. We rolled out an upgrade earlier this year to make test automation easier. This is an important step towards building more functionality in the future. With more automated tests, this is a faster and less error-prone process. Additionally, we continuously implement non-functional upgrades in the software ensuring the platform complies with the most recent security standards".

Research 525,390 minutes available per year

Over the past 365 days, our clients' surveys have been available 99.96% of the time. This means that surveys taken over a whole year and carried out via Crowdtech were only unavailable for three and a half hours! However, the 210 minutes of 'downtime', as we call it in our professional jargon, always took place during the night, when virtually everyone was asleep. Future reliability guaranteed In order to guarantee that our clients’ research will always be available in the future, we recently migrated our research platform to new servers. These new servers have a much larger capacity and an even better performance. In addition, these new servers are easier to manage and the data on our platform is even more secure. Incidentally, Crowdtech users and respondents were not aware of this migration as this too took place during the night.

Pop-Up Community

These are unparalleled times. Old business models and paradigms are being thrown away as forecasts show the crisis is unlikely to subside soon. The post coronavirus world will see changes in our lives and our jobs. In the first weeks we were in shock, but now the time has come for us consider the future and to explore new ideas and new ways of working. Start a think thank Start a think tank in the form of a pop-up community with a (large) group of involved customers. Be open-minded and ask them to collaborate and co-create with you about topics such as: Are there any demands in the market that our company can address? How can we keep our customers engaged? Even if, for example, we are partially (or completely) closed? Can we devise new products or services for the long term for this new reality and what should they comply with? Pop-up community as an idea generator A pop-up community is a good method to generate ideas within a short time span. Our pop-up community is plug and play and can be set up within one day. All you need to do is enter the emails of about 50 to 150 involved customers and ask them to work in tandem with you. Experience shows that most of them will because they value being listened to and their input is crucial to your organisation. Unlike other forms of research, a research community is a more exclusive form of research. Participants feel this and are even more committed. How does this work in practice? As soon as the community is in place, you as a marketer or market researcher ask your participants to respond to a statement or question. They do this when it is convenient for them. The participants can also see the reactions of other members and can respond and interact with them. Often a good basic idea grows into a solid and usable plan which your company can immediately action and adopt. Affordable solution We realise that in this business environment you are paying close attention to your budget. That is exactly why Crowdtech's community software is the solution. Because our community software is inexpensive, you will have collected a lot of valuable ideas within a couple of weeks, which help you be relevant and responsive. Your account with us can be short term as you pay per week. Want to know more? Want to see how a pop-up community looks and functions? Then request a demo here.

Create Your Own Style

With our upgraded Survey technology, you can adjust the layout of your survey. Previously one of our support team had to create new layouts where now you can do this with just a few clicks. Add a company logo Customise the background color with RGB colour codes Choose many different fonts Add a favicon Upload and edit background images Customize button colors and progress bars Add text to encourage respondents ‘e.g. only two more questions to go’ From this flexibility you can adapt your questionnaire to your look and feel giving your survey a fresher more recognizable look. Greater flexibility allows user to bring in new styles and approaches meaning that multi and repeat surveys can have a different look making engagement easier. We have also added in ‘encouragement’ so a ‘You’re almost there’ comment helps deliver a higher completion rate.

New Responsive Survey

How do we ensure higher responses and better data quality for our clients? This was the challenge when we started the redesign of the Crowdtech Survey over six months ago. Our team of programmers, researchers, account managers and UX designers picked apart each element of the Survey platform. The result is a whole new and more attractive environment making it easier for respondents to complete your survey. In today’s world the majority of respondents complete surveys on a mobile device, and this is especially true for a younger audience. Our mantra become ‘mobile first’. The designs, thinking and approach focused on making it work on mobile first. A larger font, larger buttons and all the standalone responsive elements ensure a seamless experience on mobile. Importantly, the mobile Survey matches the look and feel as the desktop view. We have always prided ourselves on making surveys captivating and simple to complete and we have built upon our gamification principles to incorporate more layouts, colours, and flexibility to really guide respondents through the questionnaire. For example, the matrix question has been shaped differently. The problem with the Matrix question is that a respondent often sees a long list of questions causing high dropouts and encouraging straight lining. In the new Survey solution respondents see one statement at a time and only upon completion does the next grid appear. Beta tests showed respondents are more motivated and conscientious delivering greater reliability.

Survey tool for the visually impaired

There were an estimated 253 million people with visual impairment worldwide. This number is much higher if you include elderly people and those suffering from poor vision. To engage this audience our new Survey is designed so this group can easily participate. In developing our upgraded Survey tool, we included these key ingredients: Observability: We have ensured a minimal text size and used contrasting colors Controllability: The user interface is also easy for the visually impaired to control. We have added a lot of visual cues, so it's clear which answer the respondent has chosen Intelligibility: our new Survey is programmed so that the questions can also be read out by reading programs Robust: Respondents can access the survey on different browsers Finally, our Surveys can also be operated by a keyboard Importantly this new feature adheres to the EU ‘WCAG’ (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) guidelines helping our Client compliance to these standards. WCAG is designed to better reach a wider audience with this greater accessibility so samples can be richer and a more roust and representative sample is achievable.

Do You Use US Cloud Services?

Without being aware of it, many companies have been violating European privacy rules since this summer. Working with US cloud service providers is no longer covered by the GDPR rules. This is because the European Court of Justice has declared the Privacy Shield agreement invalid. The agreement regulates how the US handles processing of user data covering European citizens and was created to ensure you could continue to use cloud services provided by US companies. However, it now turns out the Privacy Shield is not sufficient after all.  The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) states that personal data may not be simply transferred to individuals or organisations based in countries outside the European Economic Area (third countries), such as the US. This is only allowed if the level of personal data security guaranteed by the GDPR is not undermined in those third countries. The Court of Justice holds that the Privacy Shield cannot guarantee an adequate level of protection. This is because, under US law, the intelligence and security services there have the right to access and use EU citizens' data.   Therefore, if you want to comply with the GDPR rules (and of course you must), it is no longer possible to store customer data with, or work with US cloud services. In short: If you work with research tools from the US, you are not working according to the GDPR rules. You may also be working with American parties without realising it. For example, if your suppliers process the data via American cloud services you are not working to the GDPR guidelines. To ensure you are doing the right thing, we recommend verifying all your suppliers to remain compliant.  Do you use Crowdtech technology? Then you’re covered. Our platform complies with the GDPR rules. We do not outsource our hosting to third parties. Our hardware is located in our data centre in Amsterdam and our technology is developed and maintained by ourselves. So, your data always stays within the EU and you comply with the GDPR rules. 

We speak your language

There is a Czech proverb that says, ‘Learn a new language, gain a new soul’. At Crowdtech we wholeheartedly embrace the many diverse languages represented on our globe, and hence recognize the need to conduct research in respondents’ home tongues. We understand that engaging in one’s preferred language makes respondents feel more comfortable and better valued, which in turn results in deeper research and richer insights. To this end, we have developed our new multi-language feature, which dramatically changes the translation phase of the research process, for clients and respondents alike. Predominantly used for research surveys across multiple languages, the feature is also applicable to other arenas including external samples, client databases, website links and of course, panels and communities. Enhanced experiences for respondentsOne of our primary focuses at Crowdtech is to ensure that we deliver an optimum experience to each of our respondents. Calvin Olland explains, ‘We understand the value in keeping our respondents happy, so that they stay engaged in our panels and communities. They are literally the backbone of our system… without respondents, we would have no research.” The new multi-language feature enables respondents to choose their language before starting the survey – thereby playing an important role in making them feel valued and recognised.  Increased efficiencies for clientsTypically, clients wishing to conduct multi-lingual research had to upload translated questionnaires in each required language – with every translated version having to be coded separately. Once the research had been conducted, the output then needed to be merged into a single language, prior to analysis. Our new offering changes this process in a number of ways. By leveraging our advanced technology, our multi-language feature enables various tasks to be carried out much more easily than before: Clients can upload a multi-lingual questionnaire in just one language, relying on our intuitive technology to upload and code the translated versions automatically Once the survey translations have been uploaded, clients can easily toggle between languages to check scripts as required The output in all its different languages will be collated together, enabling the research to be delivered back to clients in a single language, ready for analysis  Naturally all of these elements massively reduce time wastage for clients, making the research translation process smoother, more efficient and more cost-effective. These elements can literally be done at the click of a button, making them very user-friendly. If however, there are any queries over their implementation, our support team is always available to help, at every stage of the research process. Applicable to both multi-country and single-country surveysAs globalisation increases, the ability for research surveys to operate across countries becomes increasingly important. Crowdtech’s advanced technology places us in a strong position to conduct multi-country research – and including a variety of languages is one way of enhancing this offering. Multi-country research is not however the only format that requires this capability… countries with more than one commonly-spoken language will benefit just as much from this feature. Such a feature is perfectly suited to the likes of Switzerland or Belgium, as well other countries globally, where respondents hail from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Constant innovation is the name of the gameOur project managers and technical team deem panel management a high priority. They are constantly innovating to find ways of keeping our surveys fresh, dynamic and easy-to-use. And what better way of making the experience easier, than to allow respondents to engage in their preferred languages? “We’re very excited about this new addition to our stable,” says Olland. “Our teams are always on the look-out for how we can add to our bouquet of features and enhance the user experience. Offering a multi-language solution is one way of doing this. What’s amazing about this tool is its simplicity and efficiency – we’re looking forward to rolling it out to more clients.”

Wall of Inisghts

At Crowdtech, running communities is what we do. It’s the backbone of our business, and we constantly strive to improve the experience for respondents and clients alike. From a client’s perspective, naturally the community is of vital importance, as it is the source of the research gathered in a project. However, traditionally these respondent platforms were not used to a great extent by clients. Enhancing clients’ online platform experienceCrowdtech’s clients hail from a wide range of industries and designations. From finance to beverages to automobile companies (to name but a few), our users include researchers, agencies, technical teams and top management. Our online communities deliver optimally to our respondents, but, always keen to see how we could improve our offering, we wanted to consider what could be done to increase the usability of our online platforms for our clients. Our solution: A Wall of Insights. Accessible yet comprehensive project summariesVisible to any client but not to respondents of a group, the Wall of Insights provides an attractive, accessible summary of either an activity or a whole project. Once an activity is completed, the project researcher generates content to populate the Wall. It is displayed in bite-sized, easy-to-read segments, highlighting the key findings of the activity. The Wall of Insights includes a number of elements, each contributing to the overall executive summary: The statistics and demographics of the community’s participants, displayed in graph and data format Reminders of the active (and inactive) themes in the community, detailing the questions that respondents were asked A preliminary conclusion or hypothesis for each theme, based on what the researcher has seen thus far Demographic graphs and relevant, interesting verbatim quotes pertaining to each theme Where applicable, photos as well as text responses, to bring a theme to life The name and contact details of the researcher/ moderator are also provided in case of any queries Key take-outs, delivered quicklyThe project manager on the activity or project populates the Wall of Insights immediately after an activity is completed, ensuring that the content is optimally chosen to best represent the findings, prior to analysis. Of course, more detailed analysis than this will be necessary to complete the project, but the Wall provides a fast turnaround of the most relevant take-outs from each activity, displayed in an easily digestible manner. Accessible insights for all levels of clientWe believe that this enhancement to our offering will make the community platform more accessible to clients. From top management to junior researcher, we are confident that a single screen top-line summary of each completed activity, will add value to the research process. Visit your project’s platform now to see the Wall of Insights for yourself! As always, our technical team is on hand to offer help, should you require it.  

The power of a Research Community

Crowdtech is the number 1 supplier of innovative technology to start your own research community. A research community is one of the most effective methods to receive fast and valuable insights about your brand, communications and customer experience. On top of that, it’s a modern and respondent friendly way of doing market research. In case you are not still convinced, we have asked a few of our clients and a respondent to tell you about the power of a research community: “It’s a big advantage of a research community that we can also use it to get insights for quick decisions that have to be made. We cannot get those quick insights with traditional research methods and therefore our research community is very valuable to us.”Ministry of Education & Culture “I really like the community because I can easily respond to short and effective questions. And also because of the feedback I receive, when I have participated in a research project.”Respondent – Anonymous on request “Due to the quick and valuable insights we received in our research community, we were able to realize valuable service improvements. This is realy the power of a research community: it’s fast and you’ll get clear and valuable insights”.I.R.S. “Our research community provides our customers a way to express their opinions and ideas. We see a daily benefit from the valuable feedback and great ideas of our respondents in our research community. The community allows us to start a dialogue with our customers and we receive comprehensive insights around their experiences and needs.”Current client – Anonymous on request

You're Not Alone

The pros and cons of SaaS The advent and rise in popularity of SaaS platforms has revolutionised ways of working across industries, including the field of research software. On-demand software places the locus of control in the hands of the client, in an accessible and user-friendly manner. However, one of the greatest frustrations with the SaaS model to date has been the lack of human support for technical platforms, with users feeling that they have no-one to ask for a helping hand. Crowdtech’s offering includes support At Crowdtech we see things differently: While our research software model is certainly based on technology, we don’t believe that the provision of our platform is the end of our client relationship. Far from it. Instead, we place a great deal of importance on offering support to users at every step of their research journey. Assistance throughout the research cycle We have coined this offering a Hybrid SaaS model: ‘SaaS’ because it is a technology-based platform that enables users to manage the full research cycle on their own. ‘Hybrid’ because, unlike most SaaS models, it entails ongoing and accessible user-support, including: Operational support Panel support Wider research support   Operational support: This covers the full spectrum of operational functions, from helping our clients to understand and leverage the technology behind our platforms, to preparing the survey operations, and managing the data output. Crowdtech’s team of IT support managers is ready to help at any step of the way. Panel support: One of Crowdtech’s strengths is the fact that we offer panel management, which underlies our quantitative surveys and qualitative platforms. On an ongoing basis we help clients to maintain their customer panels or communities, making sure the sample balance is right and that the platform is constantly achieving optimal engagement with respondents. Full-service support: At Crowdtech our strength lies in technical operational and panel expertise. However, we can also offer full-service research support via our sister company, MWM2, who have a full suite of researchers to help clients right through from design to analysis phase. Melvin Bechan explains, “If it’s operational or panel support, Crowdtech can help you in-house, as our wide range of technology and support managers are geared towards exactly that. If it’s the full-service research support that you’re after, we can do that too, via our sister company MWM2.” Help is accessible and fast At Crowdtech we focus on delivering software that is developed by researchers for researchers. Our platform is not simply about standalone technology. We encompass a full-service team of researchers, project managers and support managers who are available to guide our customers through the DIY research cycle. As the world embraces omni-channel digital engagement, we believe that support is most helpful when it is accessible via a number of different sources. To this end we offer fast-response assistance via email, phone, chat - or even in-person, when lockdown rules allow. Bechan sums up the importance of a supportive culture, “We like to help clients out where we can… We don’t just say ‘You paid for 10 minutes of our time and now you’re done’. Instead, we go the extra mile and that’s one of the things that people like about us; one of the things that sets us apart.”

Effective Panel Management

Panel management has become a commonly accepted term in the research industry. But what does it actually mean, and is it important? In a word – yes, panel management is critically important, as it improves both the experience of the respondent as well as the output of the research. Understanding panels and communities Before we go any further, it is important to note that the term ‘panel management’ refers to the management of both customer panels and communities.   At Crowdtech, we utilise technology to convert our clients’ customer databases into consensual customer panels: Bespoke, long-term panels comprising of a group of customers who, by definition, have a vested and ongoing interest in a particular brand. Our technology allows us to engage regularly with this group of people via digital surveys. We also run communities, which are like panels, but take the relationship with customers a step further. Using more complex technology, communities are facilitated via a portal which enables in-depth discussions and forums. These platforms allow engagement between members and enable clients to probe questions at a more comprehensive - and often qualitative - level. So what exactly is panel management? Panel management, simply put, is the process of recruiting, retaining, incentivizing, and liaising with the members of research panels and communities. Firstly, it requires a soft, humane touch to keep respondents feeling valued and engaged. Next, it involves detailed analysis to monitor the activity and participation of each respondent in the panel. Last, it entails stringent adherence to keeping respondents’ personal data secure, and using it responsibility. At Crowdtech, we leverage our advanced technology to ensure that all of these processes happen efficiently. By having the panel management capabilities built into our technology, we are able to ensure a smooth flow from recruitment, though to sampling and retainment of respondents. How does it impact on respondents? The practice of panel management may appear to be somewhat extraneous to the collection of data itself. However, without effective panel management, research surveys and communities have a dramatically lower success rate. As is true when dealing with any group of people in the world, active management increases participation levels. Consider a hypothetical work environment where employees were left alone with no guidance or acknowledgement... Levels of frustration and confusion would abound, resulting in disengagement and lack of co-operation. Research panels and communities operate in the same way. Respondents are typically recruited due to their interest in a common topic: They are naturally more likely to engage deeply if they feel that their participation is valued, their preferences acknowledged and their responses recognized. How does this affect the research outcome? Happier respondents mean better research. Well-managed panels and communities naturally result in deeper, richer and more frequent insights from participants. As noted, there is also an analytical side to panel management. (After all, this wouldn’t be the research game without some analytics!) Monitoring a panel enables a real-time gauge of which respondents are actively participating - and which are not. This massively reduces inefficiencies and redundancy, by eliminating respondents who are not adding value to the research. Active sample selection is also an integral part of panel management, enabling the optimal respondents to be targeted for the questions that apply to them. This directly reduces wastage of time and cost. Lastly, effective panel management enables a long-term and robust panel to be developed: One that allows for ongoing trackability, based on feedback from a consistent group of respondents over time. Again, technology is the key to efficiency across all of these practices: Both in terms of time and output, Crowdtech’s panel management technology is what sets us apart. Technology is what enables us to conduct each of these processes with optimal efficiency, to ensure that both respondents and clients have a satisfactory experience. Where does it fit into the overall research picture? Panel management is a fundamental part of any research technology solution. Ideally a research solution should include three equally important and symbiotic elements, these being: Quantitative surveys Qualitative platforms Panel management   Although some agencies offer these independently of each other, at Crowdtech we believe that panel management is the indisputable backbone of the other two arms of research – supporting them through integrated technology, and enabling them to achieve maximum efficiency. We are therefore proud to offer our clients an all-in-one solution which integrates these three elements seamlessly: Quantitative surveys as well as qualitative platforms, both maintained and powered by effective panel management.

Introducing our international project manager

While SaaS platforms have certainly revolutionised the way that business is conducted, their greatest downfall is that users are often left to fend for themselves after they have signed up to the service in question. Crowdtech’s proactive solution to this has been to create a Hybrid SaaS model which provides human support to users, while simultaneously allowing them the freedom to operate our platform independently. Ready to lend a helping handTo this end we assign project managers to all our clients and jobs, who provide a human interface between our clients and our technology. Kirsten den Elzen, International Project Manager and Technical Consultant, plays this role. Managing many of our international projects and clients, den Elzen is the link between the technical development team, our clients and our surveys, panel and communities.  ‘In the past, clients used to outsource entire market research projects to agencies’, explains den Elzen. ‘Then SaaS systems started making it possible for them to conduct some of the technical side of research on their own. But people are still finding that they need a little help here or there - and that’s where I come in. They like to have a technical team that they can contact… we’re here for our clients and always ready to help.’ One role: Many tasksDen Elzen’s job is multi-faceted, spanning client training, technical support, project management and developer liaison. On the client training side, den Elzen carries out multiple Client training sessions. In terms of technical support, she oversees the Client helpdesk. Project management encompasses all the details of preparing projects for launch, while developer liaison involves a ‘translation’ of sorts between this team and clients. “One of my roles is to liaise with the client regarding their project requirements’, she explains. ‘I then feed their needs back to the internal team. I engage with our developers to understand exactly what is possible from a technical perspective. Sometimes what seems like a tiny change on the front end of the platform, will require a massive upheaval behind the scenes. In such cases we need to assess how best to fulfil client wishes in a way that makes the most logistical sense.’ Different clients, different requirementsDifferent clients require different solutions. At Crowdtech we work with three types of clients: On the one extreme are those who choose to run their panels or communities entirely on their own, and on the other side are those who require a full-service model. For this, we bring in our sister company of researchers and analysts, MWM2. However, the majority of our clients sit within the Hybrid SaaS space, meaning that they run their own panels and communities with varying degrees of requirements for help from our team. Meeting clients where they are‘I try to meet each client where they are,’ explains den Elzen. ‘I am in constant contact with them and try to have a really thorough understanding of each client’s diverse needs. Of course, I’m not the product owner so I need to liaise with our dev team about each requirement. But where possible I do what I can to try to make them happen!’ Den Elzen describes how varied her client requests can be. For example, when it comes to the look-and-feel of a panel or community, she liaises with a full range of clients – from those who engage their marketing teams and get extremely involved in the design of each community element, to those who prefer to outsource this entirely to Crowdtech. Working with mostly market researchers and marketers, Crowdtech’s international client liaison spans an array of countries and cultures. It also spans industries, including a range of commercial sectors and also some non-commercial ones, such as higher education institutes. True agilityAgility has of course become a popular topic in business, which has been heightened since the advent of Covid-19. Den Elzen confirms that, at Crowdtech, the company’s agility is more than simply lip-service: ‘Crowdtech is constantly evolving. It doesn’t claim to be an agile company: it actually is one. If we need to change something, I have the autonomy to do exactly that. To me, this is true agility.’ ‘I love my job’, concludes den Elzen enthusiastically. ‘I love my clients too – as varied and diverse as they might be. I always look forward to what my next project and challenge might hold.’ To speak to Kirsten den Elzen or find out more about our international offerings and project management, please do get in touch.

Helping you with WCAG compliance

It is indisputable that digitization is becoming prevalent in every industry and transforming every business function. Already a global trend pre-Covid-19, the digitization of the world as we know it has sky-rocketed due to the effects of the pandemic and its lockdown. Crowdtech has been at the forefront of research technology since its inception. And whenever new developments take place in the digital world, we pride ourselves on embracing them in an agile manner. What are the WCAG? The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) were first published in 2008, but recently gained traction as the digital global revolution took hold. They are a set of documents which explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. A global set of guidelines, their purpose is to standardise web content and ensure that it is accessible to as many individuals, organisations and governments as possible. To date, different countries have adopted and enforced the guidelines to different degrees. In many areas across the EU, it is legislated that government websites conform to these guidelines, with many other countries adopting a similar approach. How do they make the web more accessible? The guidelines seek to mitigate any elements of a website that might be difficult for users with disabilities. Spanning disabilities including sight, hearing, physical and cognitive impairments, the guidelines address a multitude of items. Examples include making sure that text is big enough for those who are hard of sight, or that all functionality is available by keyboard for those who cannot use a mouse. How does this relate to Crowdtech? Crowdtech’s technology is used to deeper human understanding through a tool kit of research techniques. Naturally, this is an area that holds huge potential for inclusivity of people with disabilities, as the WCAG guidelines have brought to the fore. Crowdtech has worked hard to develop survey tools that ensure that digital surveys are WCAG compliant. With additional programming and also additional human resource to check the output, we can safely say that our surveys hold up to the most stringent WCAG checks. Catering for a range of disabilities In addition to examples such as provision of larger text and keyboard navigation, our platform contains features that ensure all images have text descriptions, that any colours used are easily distinguishable, and that images are bold and clear. In terms of hard of hearing respondents, the researcher designing the survey can make sure that every video used has subtitles and there are no sound clips without descriptions. Addressing cognitive disabilities, the platform can ensure each screen is shown for sufficient time to allow respondents to read everything within the survey text. It is important to ensure that questions are clear and easily understandable and that there is no ambiguity in them. Additional checks are carried out Simply adhering to the guidelines by means of programming is important, but this on its own is not enough. At Crowdtech our business policy is to go the extra mile when it comes to client support. In our efforts to ensure full WCAG compliance for our clients, we also offer a thorough additional check on surveys once they have been programmed by our WCAG consultants. One of the considerations of the team will be the idiosyncrasies of the language that is used. For example, phrases such as ‘as you will see in this image’ may be considered exclusive or even offensive to the hard of sight. Instructions such as ‘navigate to the answer button’ may be difficult for someone with a physical disability. Having combed through lots of surveys with a watchful eye, the more it becomes clear how commonly used phrases and words in everyday language can exclude those with certain impairments. It is this additional checking phase that we feel sets our WCAG offering apart from others. A more inclusive digital future As more and more countries roll out enforcement of these guidelines, companies and other institutions will start to adopt them as common practice. The effects of this are already becoming evident: Naturally, this opens up digital surveys to a notable subset of the population, in some countries as much as 18%. But more than this, it fosters a culture of inclusion, and encourages individuals and companies to embrace differences. Such ways of thinking are vitally important to progressing diversity for all consumer segmentations.