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  • 00:00

    [MUSIC PLAYING][RESEARCH METHODS, case study][Researching Sales of Small Business Insurance usingObservation & In Depth Interviews]

  • 00:12

    KAREN FERNANDEZ: Hi, so I'm Karen Fernandezand I'm an Associate Professor of Marketingat the University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand.I did my PhD in marketing, but what I reallygot interested in later on was whypeople do the things they do with objectsand how people develop relationships with objects.

  • 00:34

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: And it turned out that qualitative research was oftenthe best way to get into people's minds.[What were you looking to explore in your researchon objects?]The research I'm talking about hereis we were interested in why people--

  • 00:55

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: they advertised special insurancefor small business people that would help insure themagainst loss.And the company approached us and said,we're trying to find out why this isn't doing very well.We're getting a lot of calls, but we're not actuallyable to sell a lot of this insurance.

  • 01:17

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: So what can you do to help us?So my colleague and I planned the project.And what we did was we interviewed small businesspeople.The company helped us find some and we found some.And basically, they pretended to be calling about the insurance

  • 01:38

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: and we watch them.And then we had confederates in the call center.I mean, obviously, the company provided that.And the call center was also listening to the calland recording their end of the conversation, whichovercame a major problem because very often, youknow one side of the story and not the other.

  • 01:59

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: So we watched these people call and listenedto our end of the conversation at least.And say, "I'm a small businessmanand I'm really interested in your insurance"and all that stuff, and asked for a packetto be sent to them.And then we talked to them about the call."Well, how did you find the call?"And a lot of times, they were saying things like, "oh, we're

  • 02:19

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: not interested in dealing with a faceless company"--that kind of thing.And then we also said, "when you get the packet,you call us again and we'll come and watch youwhile you open the packet" because we thought maybe whenpeople get the package, they're notunderstanding what's happening.You know, maybe some information is not there or whatever

  • 02:41

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: because we're trying to find out where the roadblocks arein the process.This is the kicker.Out of, say, every 10 people, only 1 person got a packet.Because when we didn't get the calls,we just thought, oh, you know, they'vealready got their money.They're not going to call us.So we would call them and say, "you know,don't forget we're looking forwardto opening the packet with you."

  • 03:01

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: And we paid them a substantial amount,so about $250, so they were quite--and small businessmen, so they were quite keen to do this.And they never even got the packet.So you see that's such a simple thing,but the company didn't know that.And then sometimes, there were things like, "oh,everyone's at a staff party.I don't really know much about this.We'll call you back."

  • 03:22

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: Never called them back--you know, that kind of thing.So it was quite interesting.And I think a survey wouldn't have uncovered all this processinformation.[What research methods did you use?]So we used observation because we observed the business

  • 03:42

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: people.We could have done participation,which meant we could have pretendedto be business people.And we would have if we'd had to,but we didn't feel we needed to in this caseand because we thought, well, how willwe ask the right questions about equipment or whatever.And we also used interviewing, so depth

  • 04:02

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: interviewing where we asked questions about the process.[How was data collected and analyzed?]Well, that's kind of how we collected itbecause we interviewed them.What was tricky about this is there was also data obviously

  • 04:23

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: in the call center because we couldn't hear whatthe call center people were.I mean, we could have put it on speaker phone,but we were a little bit concernedthat that would sound artificial.So we got the call center people providedthe transcript of their side, so their audio recording wastranscribed.And our audio recording on our side because we taped it

  • 04:44

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: was transcribed.Now we like to videotape, but in oneof the practicalities of this is transcribers don'tlike to deal with video data.They want audio data.So what we have developed over the yearsis a backup audio recording as well,which is really nice because then you have a backup.If one of them fails, you have the other.

  • 05:05

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: The video was more for us.It's really good for presentationsbecause you can show the company employee-- you know,the company managers what on the person'sface and their frustration.And their words are believable, asopposed to just having something typed up.And at the same time, the audio is for the transcriber.

  • 05:26

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: So then what we did was we actuallyblended the transcription from the call centerwith the transcription from our side,so that basically it became one giant transcriptso you could hear and basically readwhat both sides were saying.[Were there any unexpected challenges and how did you

  • 05:48

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: overcome them?]One of the things was we were tryingto wrap up this project by Christmas because then wewould get paid as well.And that was the reality.And plus in New Zealand, everythingcloses down for about a month around Christmas,so we had to get it done.So we called probably three days before Christmas, our verylast interview.

  • 06:08

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: And I remember the other end was having a Christmas party.And there was just no one to talk to.It was someone who just said, "well,I'm just manning the phone while everyone elsethat's more important than me is having a party.We'll call you back", but they never did.So that was timing, which we hadn't reallythought about the fact.You just assume maybe like it is in the States,

  • 06:29

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: that people will be just professional all year round.If they're working, they're working.But that's not the case in some countries.[What recommendations would you have for someone looking to dosimilar research?]That they actually get to know the company first.So looking back, I wish we'd gone maybe to the company,

  • 06:51

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: and maybe toured the call center,and met a few of the people, and justgotten to know the process.One of the things we really like to do in our researchis we like to have one person that'svery knowledgeable about the situation and one person who'snot because you ask very different questions basedon that.And so looking back, one of us should have gone, I think,

  • 07:12

    KAREN FERNANDEZ [continued]: and toured the company and seen the back endbefore we started perhaps.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Video Info

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Publication Year: 2020

Video Type:Video Case

Methods: Observational research, In-depth interviews, Qualitative data collection, Qualitative data analysis, Video research, Marketing research

Keywords: call centers; insurance; marketing (business); observation (research); small business

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Karen Fernandez, PhD, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand, explains how qualitative research is often the best way to investigate people's relationships with objects. She describes her research into the sale of insurance to small business owners as a case study.

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Researching Sales of Small Business Insurance using Observation & In-Depth Interviews

Karen Fernandez, PhD, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand, explains how qualitative research is often the best way to investigate people's relationships with objects. She describes her research into the sale of insurance to small business owners as a case study.

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