You’ve got a research study coming up. Your client has bought into the process and wants their entire team to participate. With 6 in-homes and a team of 2 adding 1-2 extra people to the professional team isn’t an issue. However, when the research team explodes to 3-5 clients you start to loose control of the situation and more significantly you loose participant trust and willingness to communicate.

How might you regain control of the study while also encouraging client participation and championship of the customer problem?

I’ve seen two ways forward:

  1. Host a client learning field exercise.
  2. Limit the size of the visible and participating team in the field.

Both help the client team take ownership of the problems they see in the field. One is more formal, focusing on very specific engagement with little training and limited exposure to participants. While the other has the potential to expose the team to a wider variety of participants but gets away from a professional study—the purpose is different.


Setting up your study for success when clients want to attend:

  1. Always ask your participants about the size of their space if you have more than 3 people coming with you.
  2. Always inform your participants on the number of researchers coming with you.
  3. Give your team jobs. If your clients are there, they’re part of the research team and have a critical role in its success. Debrief them after to capture their understanding.
  4. Always train client teams. You don’t want them checking their phones, accepting food from the participant, or doing something that will impact your participant’s answers or destroy confidentiality or the participant’s home.
  5. If you have a large client team that wants to go, assign them participant slots. Only take 4 in at a time.
  6. Always do a test run with clients and then help them understand their role.


With large teams you’re on stage and your participants are also on stage. Putting your participants at ease is job number one. Make sure the other professional researcher in the room is leading the logistics of the equipment setup and client management.

The success of any in-home research is capturing the data necessary for creating project success and client empathy. Be conscious of any unexpected demands that jeopardize your methods and your project.