Focus group transcription is the process of creating an accurate record of what the participants said during a focus group session. Focus group is a group of individuals with some common interest or characteristics who come together to discuss a particular idea. A focus group is a good market research tool that uses guided conversations to collect qualitative data on a subject. It usually consists of 10 to 12 or fewer individuals led by a moderator. Focus groups can be used to measure the reaction of the public or society towards specific issues or projects and help in decision making, strategic planning and resource allocation. As focus groups are large groups with multiple speakers, it is always a challenge to transcribe a focus group discussion. The best way to have focus group discussions transcribed is by entrusting it to professional transcriptionists.
For the transcription to be accurate, it is important to have a clear recording of the discussion. So, make sure to place the microphone in the middle of the table during the discussion or you can pass the microphone to each speaker so that each and every word is captured. If you are transcribing all by yourself, then ensure the following.
- Noise Cancelling Headphones: Use noise cancelling headphones so that you can hear your speakers better and specify speech fillers.
- Screen High Resolution: A high-resolution screen from any device will allow you to play the video recording of a focus group discussion and see how the speakers pronounce a word or deliver a phrase. This helps you to better understand unintelligible speech. It also helps you to see the non-verbal cues in the discussion.
- Jargon: The speakers in the focus group may use jargon, or specific words and terms used in a particular field. Jargon dictionaries will be useful if you are not familiar with these technical terms and it also helps you transcribe more accurately and effectively.
Tips to Remember When Transcribing Focus Group Discussion
- Stick to Verbatim:
Every word spoken by the participants in the focus group should be recorded and transcribed as it is. All non-verbal utterances like umm, throat clearing, laughter, applauses, background noise and even silence should be recorded.
- Don’t Edit
Do not make major corrections while transcribing. Take down every detail of the discussion without correcting any grammatical errors or mispronounced words. If you find it difficult to understand certain words, mention the correct spelling or pronunciation in brackets.
- Know the Speakers
A focus group discussion consists of 7- 10 speakers including the moderator, therefore it is difficult to find out who said what. So, identify the names of the members participating in the session. Generally, the members are identified as “Participant” and “Moderator”.
- Place Time Stamps
Using time stamps in the text where you find words that are difficult to understand will help the end users identify the part on the audio while editing. Many participants speak simultaneously in the discussion and so the discussion is inaudible sometimes, and using stamps on such parts could help.
- Listen Carefully
Focus group sessions are not organized or disciplined. This is because participants tend to talk simultaneously, get into arguments and talk over each other, speak really fast, and sometimes turn away the microphones etc. Hence to transcribe focus group sessions, one should have keen listening skills and also the capability of understanding various styles of speaking.
- Ensure Confidentiality
Some focus group participants may not be interested in disclosing their names whereas some others will want their names and places to be transcribed. So, this is something to be specially noted.
The idea of a focus group is to encourage group interaction, gather information, and derive valuable insights. It is not always easy to transcribe a focus group discussion because there will be some background noise, talking over each other, cross communications and other distractions that make transcription difficult. Focus group transcription is one of the most challenging transcription types, hence to gain maximum benefit, it is better to hire a reliable legal transcription service. Professional transcriptionists provide digital transcription services within your required turnaround time, ensuring accuracy and reliability.
If you want to gather additional information as an adjunct to quantitative data collection methods or to get more in-depth information on perceptions, insights, attitudes, experiences, or beliefs, make use of focus groups. They are a group of individuals who share similar characteristics or common interests in certain products, services, or concepts. Hosting a focus group discussion is a valuable qualitative research method – which means that the data is descriptive and cannot be measured numerically – for gathering data whether it be a small group of 5 or a large group of 15. However, this method is even more valuable when they are transcribed, because, focus group transcriptions help market researchers get the qualitative data and insights they need. With the help of an experienced focus group transcription service provider, you can accurately reproduce the proceedings of the discussion so that the participants’ comments can be evaluated effectively.
Based on a predetermined set of topics, a facilitator guides the focus group and will also create an environment that encourages participants to share their perceptions and points of view. According to Rev, every year, global businesses spend billions of dollars on focus groups where more than $800 million of this is spent in the United States alone. From this we can understand that focus group discussions are strategic and helpful research surveys that can aid you in learning about your clients. There are different types of focus groups, let’s take a look at them:
- Single Focus Group: The most common and classical type of focus group discussion, single focus group involves a single moderator asking questions and organically discussing a topic with a small group of respondents as one group in one place. This type of focus group discussion is widely used by both researchers and practitioners across different disciplines.
- Two-way Focus Group: This type involves two groups-each with its own moderator – where one group actively discusses a topic, whereas the other observes the first group. By listening to what the other group thinks and says, the observing group is able to facilitate more discussion and potentially draw different conclusions with additional insights.
- Dual Moderator Focus Group: In this type of focus group, two moderators work together, each performing within the same group. That is, when one moderator is in charge of posing the questions, the other makes sure the questions are answered. The great advantage of dual moderator focus group is that it results in a more productive session. That is, with the division of roles among the two moderators you can ensure that participants stay on task with their discussion, whereas with a single moderator it is easier for them to get distracted.
- Dueling Moderator Focus Group: Though this type of focus group also involves two moderators just as dual moderator focus group, here two moderators purposefully take opposing sides on an issue or topic under investigation. The purpose of this type of focus group is that it helps to explore opposing sides of an issue and generate new ideas by introducing new ways of thinking and varying opinions. That is, by supporting alternate opinions, moderators can introduce discussion points for lead respondents to consider and draw new conclusions, prompting additional insights.
- Respondent Moderator Focus Group: Here, researchers recruit some of the participants to take up a temporary role of moderators, in order to limit unintentional bias. With this focus group discussion, it is believed to have a change in the dynamics of the group and generate more varied and honest responses as it influences participants’ answers.
- Remote/Online Focus Group: Especially very important for these days, the remote or online focus group gathers participants from different locations – using a teleconference or online format – that might otherwise be restricted. With the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for remote focus groups is booming these days, because, in an online focus group, participants interact through a video call where the moderator asks the questions and leads the discussion.
Though this type of focus group is not as revealing as a face-to-face focus group discussion, remote focus group poses some advantages over them. That is, it is a good option for companies wanting to explore more personal topics or that which have limited time and money to spend on the more in-depth focus group techniques.
Be it any type, focus group discussions are preferred over interviews, as they draw out group members to interact and influence each other. However, transcribing focus group data can be expensive and time-consuming to handle on your own, as these recorded conversations are different from a standard interview or basic audio file. These audios would often have background noise, quiet conversations, and non-verbal cues which complicate the situation. So, to make the most of your qualitative research, you need to transcribe a focus group discussion the right way and for that you could rely on focus group transcription services from a reliable digital transcription service provider. Such providers can ensure well-formatted, accurate documentation that can be reviewed to summarize the findings and identify the key points of discussion.
Focus groups are a time-tested qualitative research method used by businesses to gather information about customers’ specific wants, needs and anxieties. This market research tool combined with focus group transcription helps companies develop new products and improve on their existing ones. Today, the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic are driving the need for remote focus groups. In a remote focus group, participants interact on a video call and the moderator poses the questions and leads the discussion.
While focus groups allow participants to openly express their opinions and share their views with each other, they are not without drawbacks. One concern is ‘groupthink’ – the tendency of influential members to dominate the conversation, keeping others from expressing their opinion or even affecting the opinion. This can skew the results. COVID-19 has added to this challenge as focus groups have to be conducted virtually, bringing in technological problems like poor Wi-Fi connectivity and participants’ unfamiliarity with the platform used to conduct the event (www.cmswire.com). Given these challenges, let’s see how remote focus group can be conducted successfully:
- Select the Suitable Method – Data can be collected via a synchronous multi-person video conference or asynchronous interview format. Synchronous formats include a live audio conference, computer-assisted conference and video conference. Feedback can be collected via messaging or chat, but it can be challenging to track all the chat messages, ensure that everyone’s opinion is heard and that the information is collected properly. A well-thought-out, organized agenda, a note-taker, and a facilitator are necessary for the multi-person video conference to succeed.
In the asynchronous interview format, the participants can be sent pre-established or pre-recorded questions via video. This means that the meeting is not conducted live. focus group participants are sent the recorded video through an online portal and they can complete at their convenience. This method may be more convenient for the participants, allow them to stay focused, and save time. However, this method can be less effective as it is less engaging.
- Plan: Careful preplanning is crucial to overcome the potential challenges of remote focus groups. First, choose suitable participants and limit the number of participants to 4-5. This will allow each person to express their opinion freely. One advantage of the remote focus group is that you can choose participants from a wider geographic area. Once you have chosen the participants, have them sign an online confidentiality agreement ahead of the event. Each person should agree by voice and their answer should be recorded. Next, pay the incentives using an appropriate method. When planning the session, fix a time limit of around 60-90 minutes, recommends Sutherland Labs.
- Choose the Appropriate Platform for Face-to-Face Interaction: There are many video conferencing tools out there such as GoToMeeting, AdobeConnect, WebEx, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and ClickMeeting. With such platforms, all participants can attend the discussion by simply clicking on a link. Many of these tools come with many features that can take focus groups to the next level: recording and editing tools that make data analysis easy, screen-sharing capabilities that moderators can use to display materials and gauge participants’ response, instant access across a wide range of devices, full HD video and audio capability, collaboration features such as co-annotation and whiteboarding, attention indicator and more.
- Use Collaborative Tools: Brainstorming is often used with focus groups. Brainstorming aims to generate new, inspiring, invigorating ideas for the challenge at hand. Whimsical, Miro and Mural are collaborative tools for collective brainstorm activities. Participants can write down ideas on virtual post-it notes, or keep track of ideas and solutions generated during the session. The moderator can send participants a link to a visual workplace which will allow them to collaborate simultaneously or observe the moderator using the virtual whiteboard (www.sutherlandlabs.com).
While focus groups are still in vogue, a CMS Wire article published last year says that collecting and studying behavioral data is more important. The key to gaining a real understanding of what customer are doing on their website, their store or other channels and the reason for their actions. According to the article, businesses should observe customers in their own environment to understand their behavior which will help them create products and services that can best meet their needs.
Audio transcription agencies play a key role in helping businesses document the interactions of focus groups for data analysis. Focus group transcription by an experienced company will ensure well-formatted, accurate documentation of the discussion.
Even in these times of social distancing and (partial) lockdowns, it’s important to sustain market research in order to understand how consumer behaviour has changed. Online focus groups and focus group transcription play an important role here. Engaging in a guided discussion of a topic is an ideal way to collect information about what’s on consumers’ minds. Unlike in the past where participants got together in a room for an in-person discussion, focus groups have moved online, expanding reach and flexibility.
Technological advancements have made it easier to conduct online interactions. Video chat conducted on platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Webex, Google Hangouts, and GoToMeeting are fast, easy and cost-effective. Compared to telephone or an online audio meeting, video can connect participants better and provide for a more personal experience. Moderators can control the flow of the video discussion just as in-person focus groups. Getting the recorded interactions documented by a digital transcription service provider will provide clarity on customer opinions and perceptions.
Here are six tips for conducting synchronous or virtual real-time focus groups:
- Keep the group size small: Experts recommend having between 6 to 8 participants. Having less than 6 may not ensure a sufficient level of interaction to optimize results while a group of more than 8 may be difficult for the moderator to effectively manage.
- Select the right participants: Choosing the right participants is crucial for the success of virtual real-time focus groups. You can distribute a participant screening survey via social media platforms or approach a professional recruitment company to source your participants. One important consideration for good results is to select people who will contribute openly and constructively.
- Schedule the discussion at time convenient for all the participants: Timing would depend on the demographics and location of the participants. All participants should log in at the same time. Online focus groups can run for a defined period of about 90 minutes and it is generally found that the quality of the discussion tends to deteriorate after this period.
- Ensure that participants familiarize themselves with using the technology: First, make sure that all participants have access to the meeting software, a webcam and an internet browser compatible with the technology. Next, make sure that they are knowledgeable about using the software. Today’s video conferencing platforms come with options for video, chat, virtual hand-raising, and other advanced features. Using all of these aspects may be necessary for effective participation.
- Test the software and settings: Have your team check the equipment that you will be using. Address any potential participant login issues in advance. Make sure they can participate in a quiet space and consider asking them to use the mute button when they are not speaking. Ensure you can easily access any visual material that will be displayed during the discussion.
- Moderate and facilitate the session: At the start of the session, the moderator should review the proper use of the video conferencing platform’s features and explain focus group etiquette. Make sure that everyone’s technology is working and conduct a practice run if needed. Online focus groups tend to have a slower pace to the conversation than in-person focus groups. To prevent participants from talking at once, ask them to use the virtual hand-raising feature when they want to say something.
Finally, capture the results and analyze them Once the focus group has concluded, download the transcript. Real-time recordings and reports are generated immediately. Hiring focus group transcription services can ensure well-formatted, accurate documentation that can be reviewed to summarize the findings and identify the key points of discussion. After analyzing the results, you can utilize the feedback to optimize your business.
The origin of the focus group can be traced back to the 1940s. Robert K. Merton, a young social scientist in Columbia University’s U.S. Bureau of Applied Social Research, used a “focused interview” technique to assess the impact of mass communication on Americans during World War II. This research tool, along with focus group transcription, gradually evolved into the preferred choice for consumer product research. With the rise of social media and artificial intelligence for gathering consumer insights, one question being asked is: do focus groups have a role in the digital world?
Focus Groups growing in the Age of Big Data
The answer is yes. According to a 2019 Vox report, brands are not ready to give up on the focus group even in the age of big data. Trade group ESOMAR reported that in 2017, $2.2 billion worldwide was spent on conducting focus groups, with $809 million of that coming from the US.
Businesses use focus groups as a market research strategy to gain qualitative information about a product or service via an interaction of individuals led by a moderator. The internet, social media, digital technologies, video and graphics have dramatically changed the way marketers interact within their teams and how they use these elements to manage their brand, products and services.
Good marketing depends on building customer brand loyalty and consumer marketing research is needed to find out what customers really want. Focus groups are well-suited to gather information about what they bought or didn’t, why, where it is used, how, and when (www.business2business.com). The reason why focus groups continue to be popular in the digital world is that they allow marketers to achieve this efficiently, with greater speed, creativity, flexibility and collaboration than many other marketing research methods.
Benefits of Online Focus Groups
Today, many companies are using digital or online focus groups as they offer many advantages over traditional in-person groups and interviews. The benefits of digital focus groups include:
- Are cost-effective and save time and travel costs – you don’t need to bring participants to a physical venue
- Overcome geographical barriers and allow for a larger, more diverse audience or sample size
- The ability to be anonymous can provide better, more honest insights – participants tend to speak freely and are less influenced by peer opinion
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning can be implemented to identify the best responses that represent the group and reveal crucial data points that inform business decisions (www.remesh.ai)
Today’s digital focus groups use multiple means to collect additional data. These include video interviews or asynchronous interviews targeting individuals or a Google Hangout where multiple focus group members interact with each other and the moderator; online surveys to provide insights into particular products, campaigns, and brand sentiment; online forums where groups of people review videos and pdfs and interact with each other, and social media monitoring – which is now referred to as the “new focus group”.
How to Get the Most out of Focus Groups
Focus groups allow businesses to better understand consumers’ thoughts and views. To get the most out of focus groups, they have to be used in the right context. Situations where focus groups will work best, according to www.business2community.com include:
- To investigate the customer’s buying journey and other complex processes
- To look into the triggers underlying consumption decisions or buying behavior
- To evaluate a new product or people’s opinion about a proposed product or service
- To explore the reasons for satisfaction
- To delve into brand and service quality perception
- To encourage participants to generate new ideas or their own solutions to address a problem or scenario
While interviews help you understand a few individual perspectives, focus groups allow you to collect more information through group interactions. Focus groups can also be used to supplement a survey or instead of it to get more information about the why or how.
Transcribing the audio from your focus group or interview is necessary to analyze the information. Based on your needs, digital transcription agencies can provide complete, time-stamped transcripts that capture as much detail as possible.
Focus groups are one of the most popular ways to collect data and in-depth insights in qualitative research. This tool allows researchers to gauge people’s true perceptions and opinions about a particular product, service, topic or area of interest. A focus group usually consists of six to 12 participants. An experienced focus group transcription service provider can accurately reproduce the proceedings of the discussion so that the participants’ comments can be evaluated. Whether conducted online or in-person, the success of a focus group depends to a large extent on the skills and qualities of the moderator. Here are 5 tips to succeed with focus group moderation:
- Have topical expertise: The moderator should have some level of insight into the industry to guide the discussion, ask the right follow-up questions, and get optimal results. Topical expertise is needed to understand the language used by the participants and to interpret their statements.
- Fully prepare for the session with the right questions: Being well prepared is the key to moderating a focus group successfully. With a clear, concise topic for discussion, you need to prepare your questions carefully. Better questions will enable better and more specific insights. Actionable Research recommends asking probing questions that begin with ‘why’, ‘what’ or ‘how’, addressing each participant as well as the group as a whole. It’s important to avoid asking leading questions that might influence the participants’ answers. Ensure that they state things clearly and in their own words. Once everyone agrees that a question has been satisfactorily answered, you can move on to the next topic.
- Establish a comfortable, relaxed environment: While asking the right questions is important, moderating a focus group is much more than that. Good moderators enjoy meeting people and will work on building rapport with the participants at the outset. However, rapport building is a challenge in the asynchronous online mode since the moderator will not have direct visual or verbal contact with the participants. In this case, the moderator will need to contact participants who are not active enough by email or phone. A good moderator will focus on conducting a smoothly flowing conversation rather than an interrogatory session. Start with an icebreaker and let the participants learn more about each other. Participants will be more likely to provide honest, complete responses in a comfortable, relaxed environment. Establish a thoughtful, permissive atmosphere where they can interact with each other for optimum synergy. If one participant begins to dominate proceedings, the moderator should gently interrupt them and encourage others to get involved. A good moderator will be able to balance the requirements of sensitivity and empathy along with objectivity and detachment.
- Listen and be flexible: Good focus group moderators spend 90 percent of the meeting time listening to participants’ opinions, feelings and ideas, while asking questions to guide the conversation. Focus on what each person is saying and show that you are listening. Give each respondent time to think before responding to a question. The Society if Sensory Professionals recommends using the 5-second “Pause” and “Probe” Technique – ask clear questions and pause for responses, and then prod for more information/comment clarity. The time frame for answering a question would be fixed in an online focus group, but a skilled moderator will be flexible and able to manage the discussion within the allotted time even if unexpected digressions occur.
- Set up a proper environment: The physical setting matters. The moderator should be involved in organizing the room and the recording equipment. Respondents should be informed at the outset about the use of video/audio recording. The recording device should be within range of everyone. Clear audio can be ensured if each respondent has their own microphone. The seating arrangement can also impact rapport during in-person discussions which in turn, will influence the quality of the data collected. The “ideal” seating arrangement, according to www.researchdesignreview.com, will vary based on the physical environment; the number, type, and homogeneity of participants; and topic of discussion.
Before the discussion is analyzed, it would have to be transcribed. With a good audio/video recording, an experienced digital transcription service provider can provide an accurate record of the focus group for review and analysis.