Kathy Cheng on conversational AI making research more human

We recently interviewed Kathy Cheng, the founder and CEO of Nexxt Intelligence, which has developed a conversational AI technology purpose-built for market research. Deeply qualitative at heart. She founded Nexxt Intelligence with a conviction that quantitative research could be improved by adding a qualitative dimension and using qualitative principles of building rapport engagement, projection and probing to deliver deeper insight at scale. Kathy explains her conviction that adding a qualitative dimension to quantitative research can improve insights at scale. She emphasizes the potential of technology, especially conversational AI, to make market research more human and engaging.

We start our discussion covering the opportunities that AI presents that can enhance the participant's experience in market research surveys by making them more interactive and conversational, which can lead to higher engagement and more thoughtful responses. She also highlights the benefits for researchers, as conversational AI allows them to probe deeper and gain better insights, making the job more rewarding.

The conversation then delves into how Nexxt Intelligence leverages conversational AI to reimagine online research by creating a unique experience that resembles human conversations. Kathy explains that using AI chatbots enables scaling in-depth interviews, leading to more human-like interactions with survey participants. The conversational approach helps participants feel comfortable and engaged while providing the opportunity for researchers to ask more intelligent and projective questions, leading to richer data.

Kathy shares three key aspects that excite her about leveraging conversational AI for online research. First, participant engagement is significantly improved, with many participants finding the conversational experience more enjoyable and often perceiving the surveys as shorter than they actually are. Second, conversational AI enables researchers to probe deeper and get more detailed and nuanced responses. Finally, the use of conversation-based questions helps participants access their emotions and enables a more natural and engaging survey experience. She also touches on the correlation between respondent experience and data quality - “We really believe when the participants are engaged, they give us better insights…they become real participants, they're not just respondents, they're collaborators, they're partners.”

Giving some examples to bring to life the benefits of conversational AI in market research, Kathy cautions that this approach is not meant to replace traditional methods but rather to enhance them and provide researchers with more nuanced and in-depth insights. She says it can complement other data by uncovering emotions, feelings, and underlying motivations - crucial information companies need to create messages that resonate with consumers. 

Kathy stresses the importance of adopting a human-centered approach to technology. Rather than simply focusing on making research faster and cheaper, the goal should be to make it stronger. This means using technology to amplify the capabilities of market researchers and enable them to tell more compelling stories to clients.

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