I recently heard about a study stating that people are generally worthless at work after 10:19am on a Friday. Picture it: the week’s work is completed, the freedom of the weekend is fast approaching, and it’s easy to let your mind wander from emails and timelines to the themed dinner party you’re hosting that night, the trip you have planned to go skiing on Saturday, or the food items you need to purchase before the Sunday football game. Naturally, these thoughts begin to seep into our consciousness, making it even harder to concentrate in an already attention-deficient world.
This presents a challenge for researchers: how can we effectively engage consumers after 10:19am on Friday when their minds are wandering? Once weekend planning starts, participating in online research suddenly seems less interesting—and historically, response rates are worse on Fridays. So what do we do? Since giving everyone a three-day weekend would likely alleviate the “10:19am Friday Slump” problem but give birth to the “10:19am Thursday Slump,” we need to be crafty in working around this issue.
The trick is to engage our consumers in a meaningful manner so our interactions count. Respondent experience is a major factor in minimizing drop-offs caused by fatigue. There are many things we as researchers can do to keep consumers involved and prolong the fatigue from setting in.
In a quantitative survey, we can:
- Use a variety of question formats (i.e., single-select, multi-select, grid, open end, etc.)
- When appropriate, incorporate tools such as sliders or drag-and-drops that require greater respondent interaction than checking a box
- Avoid using too many long grids, which can cause respondent fatigue when answering five, ten, or even more questions at one time
- In cases that a grid format works best, make it easier on the eyes by separating each row or duplicating the scale to reduce scrolling
When it comes to qualitative research, we can:
- Develop rapport and establish an environment where consumers feel comfortable opening up and discussing the topic at hand
- Make interactions conversational to cultivate honest and open answers as well as reduce the perceived engagement time
- Have a framework to guide conversations and maximize the flow of the dialogue
- Step off the beaten path and probe further into interesting findings; a lot of insight can come from answers to questions that one wouldn’t even think to ask, and consumers will appreciate you wanting to understand their point of view
The reality is that while Friday afternoons pose their own challenge in the quest to engage consumers, engagement is a challenge that we face regardless of the weekday or time of day. By maximizing the research experience, we are able to break through these barriers and obtain meaningful information for brands.
To test the 10:19 theory, I decided to anonymously poll some of my co-workers at 10:19am on Friday as a fun exercise. I handed each person a slip of paper that asked, “What were you just thinking about before I walked up to you?”
I received quite a few honest answers, some of which were work-related:
- “How to best organize the PowerPoint presentation that I’m working on. Making sure that it speaks to the audience.”
- “I was reading a client email—so thinking about the project!”
- “Do I need to go to the meeting?”
- “People always push against deadlines.”
And others that were far off-topic:
- “Should I listen to this song or press skip?”
- “It might be a good day for a Dairy Queen Blizzard.”
- “Lunch and paying bills.”
- “Going dress shopping tonight for my friend’s engagement party.”
Clearly, some of my co-workers have superhuman powers that enable them to overcome the “10:19am Slump,” while others succumb to its power. Whether this phenomenon is truly wide spread or not, it never hurts to focus on improving the experiences of the consumers that we engage in research.