Fast growing German research firm “StraightONE” combines Behavioral Economic Models and agile methods of Design Thinking to support companies in the development and marketing of their products. They are a team of interdisciplinary experts with decades of experience handling international brands. In this article, they share how online communities help them find answers for their clients.
Recognizing the Opportunity in Online Communities
StraightONE is the successor of Blauw Research GmbH. The agency analyzes and predicts customer behavior based on their research, and then develops strategies so that their clients can get the desired response from its customers.
Britta Meyer has been with StraightONE for over 6 years. In her role as Research Manager, Britta sets up most of the online communities, moderates them, and handles their management through CMNTY platform. Former Blauw colleagues had positive experiences with online communities, and StraightONE found that this could be a new and exciting opportunity for them to add this emerging technology to the company portfolio.
The Challenge: Building Behavioral Economic Models
StraightONE started with long-term communities of many participants and the ability to ask questions whenever they wanted. This was costly, time-consuming, and without much success, as clients didn’t use many of the available options. Due to organizational changes in companies with agile working teams, and design thinking processes, clients needed short-term feedback.
Gathering Better Insights with Short-Term Communities
StraightONE recognized the benefits of short-term insights communities active for two or three days. Such projects offered more meaningful feedback than focus groups. With this type of community, an agency could get multiple impressions and a more in-depth response from its customers.
“Our client wanted feedback from our Money Talk community on only one specific research question, and we set up the community, invited around 30-80 participants, and we asked questions over three days,” Britta explains.
For the StraightOne team, every CMNTY platform project is a new experience. It includes new participants as well as clients, and they all use short-term communities to get the answers for their questions.
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The idea of using CMNTY platform was to observe customers more closely. As Britta explains: “We could explore them in their real nature by uploading photos and videos, and learn about their context. This gives us much more information than in interviews”. This approach offers greater control of the process and researchers could ask specific users multiple questions, or for their opinion on the product, then receive thoughtful insights through reflective responses.
StraightONE shared that their clients are very excited, and they can see feedback through an observer account which allows them to ask for more details on a specific comment. “I think it’s an invaluable experience for [clients] to really explore and see their customers’ feedback,” Britta concluded. Initially, StraightONE’s clients wanted to moderate their short-term communities themselves, but then realized the amount of work and effort involved. Eventually, they left the task of moderation to StraightONE.
The Deciding Factors
In a way, StraightONE inherited CMNTY from Blauw and it grew into their go-to solution. “We use it still because it’s very intuitive to set up communities. They can be created very quickly and to be set up for a few days”, said Britta and added that CMNTY offers design options they like. It is fully customizable and fun to create communities.
Software features that StraightONE and Britta use in every community includes the Forum and Questionnaire module. They also like the Gamification engine. Furthermore, the Challenge module allows its users to share ideas and increase participation at the same time.
Their unique Challenge tactic is competing two teams of users to engage together and act as a team, with a goal to come up with the most ideas to win. Additionally, StraightONE shared the following benefits of using CMNTY platform for their research projects:
#1 Fast Setup
It was easy for StraightONE to set-up communities. They tried other software but found it was more complicated. “What we really like about CMNTY is the intuitive handling, the easy set-up of all of the modules we need. Even the questionnaire is simple to design and has a good variety of elements.”
#2 Intuitive Handling and Designing of Communities
According to Britta, “easy handling” is one of the key benefits of CMNTY platform through the simple Admin dashboard. She also likes that she can design a community with different colors, headers, and other options in minutes.
#3 Increased Response Rates
Email and push notifications are another function that helps Britta’s team and clients gather feedback. When the researcher asks a question, the respondents get an email notification. This keeps members engaged and increases their response rate.
#4 Clients Enjoy Real-Time Feedback
Online communities are new for many of StraightONE’s clients, and they appreciate the option to observe. They are interested in watching participants and their input in real-time. “[Clients] are really surprised by the number of comments and ideas created in the community. I’m also surprised that we had hundreds of comments within a short amount of time on issues we have assumed to be difficult (e.g. finance, electricity)”.
#5 Community Engagement
In each community, Britta creates forums that are unrelated to the main research topic. This enables members of the community to interact with each other on a personal-level, and their enjoyment of these discussions shows. “We want to give members the chance to discuss whatever they want. They really use these options, and they talk about the weather, presents, Christmas or other. It helps in community building.” Britta found members will use these forums to share topics that might not be considered by her team or client and can lead to discussions of what is most important to the members in relation to the community’s topic.
Exceeding Expectations as a Competent Research Tool
StraightONE’s experience of using CMNTY reveals the platform performs well for them as a research tool, and it’s great for building behavioral economical models. For their clients, it provides a quick answer to the questions that pop-up during the day or week.
For one client who wanted a specific question answered, StraightONE set-up a short term community, and got the feedback the client wanted in just a few days. “That really helped them to get feedback very quickly. They have different sprints within the design thinking process, and that [insight] really helped them”.