Contributors: Sarah Blewett (Carwow), Navin Nair (ex Dice, JustPark), Nick Jemetta (ex Sainsbury’s), Zeeshan Abbasi (JobandTalent), Mark Tsirekas (ZOE), Saielle DaSilva (ex Cazoo)
It’s not easy to find time to speak to your users. But ask yourself: how likely are you to succeed if you don’t speak to them?
Sarah Blewett, Lead User Researcher, Carwow
Companies live and die by their ability to satisfy their customers’ needs. Creating customer value is the only way to create business value. And the only way to know what customers value is to speak to them. A lot. But despite this obvious truth, it’s surprising how many companies shy away from speaking to customers, and grow out of touch with what they really want and value.
The best companies resist this drift, and remain resolutely customer focused, in constant contact with their customers, and meticulously track how their needs are evolving as their own product, the competition and the macro environment change. This mode of operating is known as continuous product discovery, as the organization is constantly learning more about their customers and how to create value for them.
This article sets out a playbook for moving from limited or ad hoc touchpoints with your customers, to regular conversations and continuous insights. On the way we will share insights and best practices from companies where customer centricity is at the heart of day to day operations.
What is user research?
Product discovery is fundamentally the practice of working out what to build, and stands in contrast to product delivery, or the actual act of building.
Product discovery itself can be further broken down into two phases, each served by its own type of user research.
- Problem definition is where we work out the most important customer problems to solve (e.g. is a hirer more concerned by diversity of hires, quality of hires, or time to hire?). This is also known as generative research.
- Solution definition is where we test if the proposed solution is effective at solving the problem (e.g. do anonymised interviews increase hiring diversity?). This is also known as evaluative research.
Project based research vs. continuous discovery
Speaking to users requires a number of steps, many of them logistically heavy:
Project-based research is where you run this process every time you want to speak to users, and it’s what happens when you go and pay an agency to run some research for you. It gives you detailed information that is incredibly valuable. And it’s extremely slow and expensive, often taking several months and costing well into six figures.
Conversely, continuous discovery is when you run each of these steps on an ongoing basis, and in so doing, have a steady flow of users to speak to at a vastly reduced cost. This means making a habit of discovery, so that it is happening all the time. For example:
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