Yikes! Me welcoming people at a place I’m visiting for the first time too? “Oh, my. Please, no.” Those were my exact thoughts when I first learned we would not only conduct research but also “host” the groups at our clients’ test kitchen some months ago.
Fast forward to today, five months after my first panic attack - things aren’t only more comfortable – they can also be fun.
One time, I had a respondent arrive 2 hours before the group and went to the bathroom at least 3 times???? Another time, a respondent literally asked me 1,000 questions about the “early bird drawing”. And the most interesting of all, I had a respondent who, after not being chosen for a group, stayed in the waiting room to catch some “ZZZzzzsss.” I was thankful she left before the group discussion finished! Whew!!!
So many other respondent-related things can go wrong when you’re in charge of managing groups of respondents starting on time. My pet peeves are: respondents not showing up on time and worse, not showing up at all.
I noticed that in a 6 focus group study, you’ll have at least 1-2 groups that gives anxiety attacks because respondents aren’t picking up their phones when you try to reach them to check if they’re on their way while some just don’t show. And then you can only hope you have enough respondents who can clearly articulate their thinking in every group.
And then, when you have to choose who will be selected and who will be paid and sent home - I always ask: “How can I turn these people away without them thinking something’s wrong with them? I realized that being extra polite yet unruffled, and explaining each specific situation clearly helps when it’s time to send them off.
We are so lucky to have long-term relationships with some of the best research facilities. More than anything, this new experience of “hosting” respondents allowed our team to have a better appreciation for the facilities we hire! It is definitely an “art” to recruit and host consistently great research projects, and to create a comfortable environment for our clients and respondents!