Recollective Release – November 2012

Recollective studies have always allowed activities to be scheduled to avoid overwhelming participants. However, some researchers prefer to present multiple activities at the same time as it gives participants the flexibility to do those activities over time or all at once. To improve the user experience in such studies, we have added two new features to Recollective in November that remind and guide participants about their “Next Activity”.

By “next activity” we mean the activity in the top-left position of the activity list as seen by a participant. Remember you can re-order the activities using Recollective’s simple drag-and-drop interface at any time. Also be aware that if you’ve created segment-specific activities, this list can vary dynamically.

Activity Count

The simpler of the two features is a count of activities remaining “To Do”. It appears directly on the Activities tab as a number inside a red circle only to participants, as shown below.

Help Tip

The second new feature is a green-coloured help tip that draws the participant’s attention to the fact that more activities remain available to complete. Moreover, it provides a one-click option to start that next activity. If the help tip is distracting, it can be hidden by clicking the black “x” on the help tip. Once dismissed, the tip will be hidden until the next activity is completed or the participant logs in again.

This new help tip is also pretty smart. It won’t show up on the participant’s first visit to the study to ensure the Summary welcome message is read first. It’s also sensitive to on-going journals. A journal activity will only be suggested if it’s the next activity and the participant can make a new entry.

For example, if there is a daily journal and the entry has been made for today, the journal will no longer be suggested as the next activity even though it’s technically “next”. When the participant returns tomorrow, the daily journal is again suggested.

And finally, the help tip will not appear when starting any new activity as the participant has clearly decided which one they’ll do next.

Note that the help tip does not interfere with the page below. If the participant is prompted to review other people’s responses or join a discussion, they can still do so by scrolling down. The tip doesn’t need to be dismissed to make use of the page (i.e. no extra clicking required).

Bug fixes and usability improvements:

  • New warnings when JavaScript or Cookies are not enabled
  • Study Settings now has a “Save” button above and below the long form
  • A blank message thread no longer appears to admins in some sites
  • Journal Activity cards now show “Day x of y” more consistently with the journal view page
  • Issues that made some videos not playable on mobile devices after the control panel was hidden have been resolved
  • The issue where some segments checkbox could not be selected in Chrome under Activity Setup window has been resolved
  • Count of pending review items now matches the actual list
  • Added a column header for reference codes to the Transcript CSV output file
  • Partially defined activities no longer appear to client role users
  • If “dislike” is disabled, the thumbs down icon will no long appear on multi-task stream entries


Recollective Tips and Tricks Series

Ramius is very proud of the high level of customer service we provide to our clients. For example, every Recollective site that is commissioned is given a comprehensive “Pre-Launch Check” by one of our Implementation Consultants.

Having done these site checks for almost a year now, we thought it would be a great idea to share some of the best tips and tricks we know and describe how to avoid making mistakes when configuring your Recollective site.

Each month we will try to post a couple of new tips. We hope you find them useful!

Tip #1 – Sending Email Address and Support Contacts

By far, the most commonly forgotten settings are the Sending Email Address and Support Contact fields, both found in Site Administration > Site Setup > Basic Settings:

For the Sending Email Address*, the default address is an unmonitored Ramius account, so it is highly advisable to update this setting. The Sending Email Address has two roles:

  • It is the default address all messages from the system appear to be sent from. Participants can be told to look out for emails from this address and save the address in their contacts to ensure messages aren’t lost in spam or junk filters.
  • It is the address that will capture any bounceback notifications.

*Note: if this Sending Email Address is updated, we highly recommended you set up an SPF record to ensure notifications are delivered properly. Here are instructions for setting up an SPF record.

The Support Contact identifies who participants will email if they have difficulty logging in. If they cannot login they will typically click the Help button which launches their email client. They send an email to whichever address is listed here, so it is very important to update this field to ensure that any participants experiencing login difficulties are brought to your attention and given assistance.

Tip #2 – Text / Photo Task Type

Another common oversight is to allow participants the option of uploading a photo as part of a task response (for the Text/Photo task type) without instructions to do so. The quick fix for this is simple: don’t overlook the option to disable photo attachments when setting up the task:

Unchecking the Photo Attachments box (as displayed above) in task setup will disable the photo attachments box from appearing when participants are responding to a Text/Photo task. I always recommend disabling this box if participants have not been given instructions for quantity and image type. Ignoring this best practice doesn’t hugely impact the study, however it may cause some confusion for participants and trigger support emails.

Our experience indicates that when instructions and next steps are clear, your participants have more time to focus on the study and less time to be distracted with avoidable questions.


Gain Competitive Advantage by Doing it Yourself

With DIY (do-it-yourself) a trending theme among many conferences we have attended this year, not to mention the new and emerging DIY technologies appearing for online research, it’s not surprising that companies are beginning to ask, “what happens when non-researchers collect and analyze data for their own organizations?”

During her presentation at the 2012 AMA Research and Strategy Summit, Nicole Gagnon (Senior Director of Market Research at Thomson Reuters) spoke of how they were empowering non-research staff to conduct in-house DIY research and utilize “one platform” for that would support a new customer-centric business model. She explained about a self-described “aha!” moment during the initial DIY observational study in which the research was carried out by internal staff of various business functions. They were trained and supported throughout the process but most importantly, took ownership of the data. As a consequence, they were able to trust and rely on their analysis to support business decisions.

While it had originally been an experiment, DIY seemed so promising that Nicole came up with a more sophisticated program. With a limited budget, they were able to extend DIY research across her whole division to help produce insights and gain a competitive edge.

In-House Means Ongoing

One of their most successful applications of the DIY research program at Thomson Reuters is with customer service issues. Under the program, Marketing staff can continuously conduct standardized customer satisfaction interviews and surveys to better understand the customer experience. Standardized questions allows for the collection and normalization of data for analysis on a large scale, examination of trends and for future compatibility and use.

DIY research also supports customer retention efforts by segmenting dissatisfied customers through customer service surveys. If the customer is unhappy, the interviewer will ask if they would like to have a representative follow-up. If so, the request is tracked in the division’s CRM system which triggers an appropriate staff member to contact the customer. That simple but vital extra step not only captures business insights but can perhaps save a hard-won customer.

DIY Technology & Training

Something we know for sure at Ramius is that when pushing out any software for use throughout an organization, it requires a mixture of internal support and intuitive features to be a success. So while there’s a legitimate fear that DIY research will provide questionable insights due to a lack of formal research training and experience, at Thomson Reuters employees were not left to their own devices. To support this research process and to manage bias risks, Nicole’s research team (comprising of only four individuals) mentor, support and train the non-researchers on data collection and analysis.

We think that is critical. Nicole’s division found it especially helpful to have role-based rights that had been built into the research platform they used to support an approved research workflow. Studies would never go live until they were vetted by her research team. With a strong research foundation in place, the research technology was then integrated to their CRM system that enabled her division to “close the loop” and share useful insights with the appropriate employees and on an ongoing basis.


So why were we so excited to hear the Thomson Reuters case study at the AMA RSS conference? We think it summarizes very neatly the business value of DIY research. For Nicole’s division, this new system has enabled them to do more, faster and with less. The volume of internal research is up by 400% and they are now doing over 40 annual customer feedback projects involving internal data collection. These projects range from studies that inform product development, win/loss situations and brand or customer service issues. The data and insights collected do not get archived once the project is complete, instead the data and insights become a strategic resource, accessible by anyone in the company and used to make better decisions.

Ultimately, we believe that competitive advantage is gained by the businesses that are best able to quickly respond to customer needs for improved products and services as well as richer experiences. DIY research done on online software (like Recollective) is a very promising approach to get there.