By definition, qualitative research involves collecting people's stories and analysing it in a non-numerical way. The most commonly used collection methods are focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and observations.

Anyone who has conducted qualitative research knows that it can be a slow and arduous process. This is because traditional qualitative data collection has historically  involved collecting data in-person, with individuals or small groups, over long periods of time, followed by a deep analysis of the collected data. All this, before you even start to write the report!

So what if I told you that there are ways to conduct qualitative research faster?

One of the best ways to speed up the qualitative research process is to stop using historical collection methods and embrace the technology revolution.  Using new technological capabilities can help eliminate travel time, reduce fatigue, and speed up analysis time.

Today we look at some of these technological tools that can save you time and angst when conducting your qualitative research.

Live Webcam Interviews:

Historically, qualitative research needed to be conducted in-person.  Technology is changing that.  

Today, most people have PCs or laptops with webcams embedded into them.  This is allowing for more in-depth interviews and focus group discussions to be conducted remotely.  

Alongside this, there are now dozens of platforms that are also available to help facilitate multi-person video conferences.  One such popular platform is Zoom.

Their online webinar solutions can host online events with up to 100 interactive video participants at a time.  With functionalities like virtual hand-raising, Q&A dialog boxes, and split video screens, a virtual focus group discussion can almost nearly replicate the experience of an in-person event.

The benefits of this are multifaceted.  First you save time, by reducing the need to travel.  Also it is likely that you can synch-up a wider diversity of participants at the same time, as they won’t have to travel either, meaning you can possibly conduct less focus groups.  Finally, the whole discussion can be recorded, which will become a real valuable time saver if you use automatic transcription.

Automatic Transcription:

If you conduct your in-depth, one-to-one interviews and your focus group discussions using web software, you should automatically get a recording of all the content.

The best way to analyse this content, particularly across multiple interviews and group discussions, is to view a written version of what was said.  It is just quicker to scan text than to listen to hours of audio.

Historically, transcribing audio-to-text was a time-consuming process of listening to the audio, pausing, typing a bit, rewinding a few paces back, listening again, and over and over.  

However, technology now facilities this process in a  matter of minutes using automated intelligence.  Moreover, the technology has become so advanced, that the audio-to-text transcription is returned quickly, with high accuracy, and is cost-effective.

Automatic transcription service providers, like Happy Scribe, can handle this workload for you, saving you tons of time!

ChatBots:

Chatbots are those interactive dialog boxes that pop up on the corner of your screen when you log into a website.  They often start off with a helpful, ‘How can I help you?’

There are two main types of chatbots.  There are the rule-based chatbots that work on the basis of fixed questions and answers using a predefined set of rules.  The second type is the ‘smart’ chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to learn from their conversations to become increasingly human-like in their dialogue over time.  

They have been used for a little while now in customer service related industries, but the growth of the technology is now presenting opportunities for chatbots to collect qualitative data at scale.

Oh image the possibilities!

AI can’t yet replicate the extremely deep exploratory skill that is required to handle all the diversions a real human conversation might take. However, technology has advanced enough to make chatbots a feasible means of qualitative data collection in cases where you want to ask a set of participants the same set of questions.  The difference between using chatbots over the traditional quantitative survey method, is that they are more engaging to participants and they end up sharing more data with deeper insight.

ChatFuel is one platform that you can use to build your chatbots. This programme uses FaceBook Messenger to run its sequencing.  The best part about ChatFuel is that there is no coding or previous experience needed and they are fairly economical in their pricing.

If you don’t feel like creating chatbots yourself, then the team at the Small Business Maven can do it for you.

Rolling out a chatbot to conduct the qualitative interviews for you, definitely can speed up the time it takes you to conduct the research.


It’s clear that the methods of collecting qualitative research has evolved dramatically over the last 10 years.  Using the latest technologies can not only help you conduct your qualitative research faster, but also save you money as well.

If there is anything that we can do to help, please don't hesitate to contact us.