Pre-MRMW North America 12 Interview: Leslie Townsend

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

As interview nine in the pre-MRMW North America 12 series, I got to talk with Leslie Townsend of Kinesis.  Her immersion within the social sphere directly inspired “Voice of the User” builds for Kinesis.  Going beyond just making surveys mobile-friendly, she believes in end-to-end transformation of the research process.  Here’s more from Leslie.
RM: What are you most excited to share about with us at MRMW and why?  What difference could it make for your audience if they were to implement what you’ll be talking about?
LT: Mobile (especially given what is going on with social media) is about the very very rapid transformation of our entire industry.   The content focus at most conferences has primarily been upon surveys and making them "mobile-friendly", but this process alone will not accomplish much.  All of our end-to-end practices as an industry must be transformed -- from research designs, respondent authentication processes, how we manage our panels and communities, how we deliver incentives and what types of incentives we fulfill, and how we invite respondents and route traffic.  None of the standard industry benchmarks will apply anymore.  This is literally our time to redefine our industry.  There is a great deal of talk in our industry of its demise.  In fact, we have been given a golden opportunity, because end clients should require a great deal of guidance at this point in time.

RM: What engages your imagination in the market research in the mobile world space?  Who or what inspires you?  Why? 

LT: I look primarily to younger generations.  I like to observe how they communicate, the language that they use to express themselves, the manner in which they shop, and their values.  With far more media vying for their attention with each generation, how and where they choose to focus their communication and how that information should be interpreted is vital to us as an industry.

RM: Do you have an example of how you were inspired by younger generations in something on the business, and the implications of that inspiration, by any chance?

LT: One of our employees had saved up a substantial amount of vacation time and decided to take a month-long vacation.  JetBlue was offering a "fly all you can" special at a flat rate that included any destination in the world.  He used social media site to hook up with other fellow travelers who had gotten the same deal.  Together, they crowdsourced their vacation plans, met up in various locations ranging from Las Vegas to Costa Rica, staying at the same hotels and generally hanging out together.  JetBlue got wind of their activity and began promoting the group and gave them additional gifts.  The group has since had "reunions" -- resulting in more destination vacations.  Basically the entire vacation was organized via social media, it took on a social interaction component that would not have existed in the past, and much of it happened  "on the fly" using smartphones --  and some long-lasting friendships have evolved from that.  Plus swag the group wouldn't have received otherwise.  And I'm guessing JetBlue liked the publicity as well ..

RM: Did that impact or have a translation to anything you do on the business at Kinesis?

LT: We did add a "Voice of the User" feature to our software thereafter.  Clients can suggest new features or modifications to existing ones.  All comments/feedback are visible, and other clients can add to the requests, vote on them, or indicate that they do not like the idea.  Those ideas with the most number of votes are progressed to the top of development queue.


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