Brands, agencies and consultancies are looking for efficient ways to engage customers and target audiences remotely in product and service innovation. This case shows that even hard-to-reach audiences such as business travellers can be engaged to contribute to a mobile research community.
Frequent traveler are very likely to be aware of this problem: Working remotely and while being on the road can be technically rather and organisationally tricky. And who travels on business every day probably depends even more on being able to use travel time more productive than the occasional passenger.
What commuters and business traveler notoriously have in common is being rather busy. When the Institute for Cooperation Research and Development (ifk) at the FHNW was commissioned by a leading long-distance transport company to investigate the experiences, requirements and expectations of commuters with regards to their mobile working environment and to derive ideas and suggestions for future improvement as part of a larger study, the project team wanted to make this process as efficient and pleasant for the participating customers as possible.
Offline and online engagement combined in a meaningful way
The ifk FHNW project team decided to work with a combination of mobile community and subsequent offline idea workshops: In the first wave a larger, recruited group of commuters documented their mobile work experience in the community. Based on the findings of this process, the team then derived topic areas that were in a subsequent wave advanced into improvement ideas with a smaller group of internal stakeholders and customers.
Searching – and finding – insights that matter in the moment of truth
The use of Liveloop Lab, our Community platform, in this process had several advantages: First of all, the platform was available to the participants for several weeks. This allowed the project team to dive deeper into the topic over a longer period of time, to work flexibly with a larger group of participants and engage them in a in a multi-stage process.
In our online community with a mobile interface, the participants were able to participate independently of each other when they had time. And indeed, it turned out that the members were happy to participate, especially when they were using public transportation. They reported on their cell phones and tablets directly from the moment-of-truth, documenting their activities, uploaded photos from their mobile workplaces into the community and had an intensive and engaged discussion about the practical challenges of mobile working with the research team and their peers.
An efficient engagement process with highly satisfied participants
The project shows how efficiently lead users can be engaged in a knowledge and participation process with a project-based online and mobile research platform: Through the project output, the project team gained an efficient, structured overview of the participants’ everyday life, developed a better understanding of the problems and challenges of mobile working and derived a large number of specific suggestions for the next project phase. Major benefit: The insights that were gained directly from the moment-of-truth – this level of insight would not have been available to the team with a comparable effort.
The goal of making the participation process attractive and comfortable for the participants was achieved as well: The vast majority of 30- to 55-year-old commuters said they enjoyed participating in the project in this form (94%). And more than half of the respondents summed up that they had participated in the project more intensively than originally planned (54%) thanks to the community model.