Across the globe, companies are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus crisis affects us all, regardless of the industry, and the market research industry is no exception. The conduct of quantitative and qualitative market research has been massively impacted. Curious about how fieldwork and market research companies are dealing with this situation, we are asking some of our clients and partners to tell us how they are doing and adapting to this new and extreme situation. Read more for an interview with Matt Coulling, Operations Director at DJS Research.
Malgorzata Mleczko: Hi Matt, thank you for your time. I can imagine the life of an Operations Director being quite busy, not to mention during this global pandemic! Would you please tell us how is the coronavirus situation influencing the day-to-day work of DJS?
Matt Coulling: Well, despite the pandemic and the uncertainty that the coronavirus is having/had with our clients and the research we conduct on their behalf, we are doing ok. As an agency, we were already quite well-positioned technically for remote working, particularly with respect to our operational teams. The interviewers that were office-based started using the Nebu platform remotely without any issues. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, we already had quite a number of remote interviewers working for DJS and therefore adapting to 100% of our interviewer team being remote wasn't that difficult. Neither technically nor in practice. Quality processes and management occur in exactly the same way via our telephone management team and our research project managers keep abreast of their projects via Nebu’s project management portal. All in all a pretty standard way of working for us...
Malgorzata: Can you tell our readers a little about DJS? What is the scale of your company? What is your fieldwork capacity?
Matt: The company is a family-owned business that was set-up in 2001 and has grown every year since. DJS Research Ltd is a full-service market research agency that carries out projects throughout the UK and overseas. Currently, we have a 70 seat telephone unit with around 130 telephone interviewers from the local area working for us. A Field and Recruitment team consists of around 800 UK based face-to-face interviewers and a list recruitment team responsible for enrolling respondents to take part in our research projects. Furthermore, we have a few additional teams on board: Data Processing, Software Development, and Data Support doing the coding and quality checks. A Field and Tab Research Service team is providing support to other agencies and direct clients. All of these operational teams underpin the full-service research scope of DJS that covers a diverse range of market sectors in the MR world. In total, we are a company of around 80-90 full-time employees.
Malgorzata: What are you specializing in? Do you focus on supporting a particular industry? Or perhaps on conducting one specific research type?
Matt: DJS operates within consumers and business to business markets offering both qualitative and quantitative research services. We work for private sector clients, along with the public sector and voluntary organizations. We support all market sectors from Education & Utilities through Healthcare to Retail & Manufacturing. We have 10 Research Directors who are specialists in their areas and supporting researcher service teams dedicated to these distinct market sectors. The research teams undertake research in both quantitative and qualitative settings and have support from operational and technical teams to help deliver sharp insights back to their clients.
Malgorzata: What have been the biggest challenges in that difficult time that you notice for yourself and in the industry itself?
Matt: Obviously we are at the start of a period of economic uncertainty and this is worrying! On the bright side, we are starting to see some green shoots of new business and clients returning to the previously postponed projects, so we are hopeful that "economic bounce-back" is not too far away. The upcoming time period is going to be challenging for all, but from a DJS perspective, we are well-positioned and we will work hard to deliver cost-effective, top-quality research to clients.
Malgorzata: How does your company tackle those challenges?
Matt: As a company, we are run prudently. I think our quality and innovative approach will allow us the best opportunity to work hard and get through in the coming weeks, months, years.
Malgorzata: Are Nebu Data Suite tools offering help to overcome those challenges?
Matt: Yes - absolutely. The Nebu data collection system really allows us to focus on and analyze our project target audiences. It’s a robust system and technically allows (with no or little) modification to operate unscathed in this lockdown period, i.e. remote working... I'm a big fan of Nebu systems.
Malgorzata: What do you expect to be the consequences of this situation in the market research industry? Do you see already some significant changes?
Matt: I just don't know... clearly after CV it's going to be a different landscape for businesses and therefore I see that businesses are going to need help, support and direction that can only be done through assessment and market research.. so hopefully we (DJS) and the industry at large will be very busy.
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