Paid & Sent – For over 17 years we have been recruiting respondents for all types of marketing research, including online focus groups, TDIs, in person research, product tests, ethnographies, and whatever a researcher can envision that will have an impact. Part of quality recruitment is the over recruit, which is usually 10 for 8 to show. If all 10 show, then 2 people are paid for their willingness to participate, and allowed to leave the session without participating. This experience does not count as participation in a study, and the respondents are free to do another study without violating past par requirements.
In the past, busy consumers and professionals might be paid and sent face to face or cancelled when they arrive to the in-person environment, so disappointment, hurt feelings and confusion had less of an impact. In this challenging time of high unemployment, fears for safety, and hits to a person’s overall self-confidence, we are discovering how even “paid and sent” could have an unintended negative feeling.
As we are even more focused forward with respondent care, our team developed some strategies to support respondents and address feelings so paid and sent is met with optimism.
1. Let Respondents Know What to Expect Early & Often
We want people to feel good about participation, really informed and excited about the project! Still, there is a chance that they will be paid but their participation may not be needed. Whenever possible, we try to explain this after recruitment and when being confirmed for the research. Keeping the respondent informed so that they know it is not personal, but might be who came first or last to the group, who was recruited first or a variety of other factors. We need eight participants, so we recruit ten and, if all ten honor the commitment to show, we thank and pay two people and that might be them.
2. Reinforce the Next Project
Paid and sent often comes as a surprise and not always a welcome one. As recruiters, if the respondent is paid and sent, we reinforce that this is a good moment, as their time was valued with compensation, and now we can book them into a new research project quickly, instead of waiting three to twelve months from now. If a respondent calls us after being paid and sent, we work to see if another project in recruitment might be a good fit. This makes the respondent feel better and since they are engaging, articulate and reliable – we want a client to experience their opinions.
3. Explain and Address Paid and Sent When It Happens
For some respondents, paid and sent is like showing up for a date only to get a call that your date isn’t showing, but the bill will be taken care of anyway. As much as that should make a person whole, they can leave with a feeling of resentment and confusion, and sometimes disappointment. The more the respondents are cared for properly and feelings are addressed when they are paid and sent, the likelihood increases that their night will not be ruined, and they will be back enthusiastically for the next project. We want everyone to feel good about qualitative research.
We have been successfully recruiting since 2003 and, on that journey, we meet with amazingly supportive moderators, full-service firms and focus group facilities who encourage, nurture and guide respondents though sharing. While there is less in-person now, we hope to welcome face to face qualitive projects soon where paid and sent feels ok, as the respondent can personally engage to understand why. Until that time, we are all virtual and those extra few minutes and the right tone can mean everything. With a few easy, personal and supportive steps, respondent engagement will be as happy as it can be!