The Importance of Participant Experience

best customer experience
By: Alicia Brady

You’re a program manager or product developer seeking feedback on a product in development. Or perhaps you’re a market development manager tasked with generating interest and seeding the market ahead of a product’s launch or publication date. You have a stellar plan—a funnel of activities, a plan for engagement. You have your checklist: write the invitations; pull together a list of targets. It’s a lot of balls to keep in the air, but you’ve got this.

But as you check items off of your list, pause for a moment to consider the activity you’re planning from the participant’s point of view. There are a few simple but crucial steps to ensure that the reviewer whose input you’re seeking enjoys a positive experience.

  • Establish a reasonable and realistic timeline
    Consider the scope of the activity you have planned. Whether a survey, a live review, or a class test, ensure that the “ask” isn’t too much. For example, a survey should ideally take no longer than 20 minutes. (The exception would be a survey that is extremely detailed—a pre-revision review, for example—and the payment offered would reflect this.) A class test experience should be realistic in its scope. And, of course, ensure that the honoraria you are offering is commensurate with the time that is required of the participant.
  • Clearly communicate expectations
    Of course, the reasonable and realistic timeline that you establish for a given activity should be clearly communicated to instructors. However, so should your expectations for the activity itself, as well as for the type of feedback you hope to receive. For example, if you are running a chapter review, specify the exact pages the instructor is expected to read. If the instructor is expected to work through a set of problems or an activity as a student would, be clear in your instructions. If you are running a focus group, tell participants at the outset that you expect to hear from all participants—and that means that you may call on certain participants to share (or you may even need to ask other participants to not share quite so much!). Whatever the scenario, clearly defined expectations make for a better participant experience.
  • Provide adequate support
    Reviewers or participants should never be left feeling frustrated because they are “stuck” and don’t know who to contact. If you have sent a survey into the field, ensure that your contact information (or that of someone on your team) is included in both the invitation and the survey itself. If a pilot is underway, designate a member of your team to be the support contact (particularly if the pilot involves a digital product). Do not under any circumstances tell your participant or reviewer to contact technical support. Commit to answering queries as soon as possible.
  • Pay participants promptly
    Reviewers or participants should never be in the position of having to “track down” their honoraria. Be sure to specify to participants how long it typically takes to issue payment as well as the mode of payment (again: clear expectations!), and then stick to this schedule. Prioritize the prompt payment of honoraria—and again, make sure that participants know who to contact should something go awry.
  • Acknowledge the feedback received
    This step is so simple, yet so often overlooked! A simple “thank you” goes a long, long way. Express your appreciation for the participant’s time and willingness to share their expertise. If you have the time and inclination, you might even personalize the message by noting a meaningful excerpt from their feedback. This messaging can come from an author, a contributor, or someone on the product team.

Each of these steps is a crucial part of creating a positive participant experience. And each goes a long way toward maximizing the investment you’ve made in product or market development.

The Boedeker Group’s proven processes are built to provide a seamless experience for your most important asset—your customers! 

“It was such a relief to hand off a big task and then be able to sit back and watch it happen. At each step, The Boedeker Group sought my review and approval, and they acted quickly and appropriately on all of my input. They really became members of my team!”

Do you have an upcoming project that would benefit from our expertise? Schedule a free, 10-minute consultation to learn how TBG’s expertise can help your project run smoothly from the initial invitation to the final report, and every step along the way.

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