The 5 Critical Requirements to Democratizing Research

Knowledge / Inspiration

The 5 Critical Requirements to Democratizing Research

Continuous Discovery
UXDX USA 2022

In this session, you’ll learn how leading organizations are rethinking their strategies for driving customer-centricity and empathy throughout their organization. Everything has changed in the past 2 years, and leading organizations are recognizing that in times like these, it’s more important than ever for design, product and marketing teams to understand people's experiences to drive more informed business decisions. This session will provide actionable insights that can help you scale customer empathy across your teams, including:
1. Tactics for minimizing the work and administration for engaging respondents
2. Tools and systems that maximize gaining in-depth insights
3. Real-world examples of the results from implementing these tactics, tools and systems

Thanks for joining this virtual session, which focused on the five critical requirements for democratising research. My name is Adam Mertz, and I lead marketing here at "Discuss". Now, this is really a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Because for many years, I led a variety of different product teams, and my goal was always to make sure as many people from across my team, and really the entire organisation, get out there and better understand the needs of our customers. What they think was important? How could we further improve the experience that they were having with our product, and with our company?
So we'll talk about these critical elements in just a moment, but what I wanted to do is just set the stage here. I thought I'd highlight a couple of industry statistics that I think probably... I think they are pretty well understood by many. But let me just take a moment here. And humour me, these are just a few stats that show how important it really is to understand and align with customer needs. It really can help that first step shows how it can help your organisation be more profitable. You know, 60%, according to Deloitte, it can also increase customer retention, great create those brand loyalists, and at the end of the day, it's about outperforming and differentiating you from your key competitors. In short, for those organisations that can make empathy, at scale, a reality and democratise research across their organisation. It can be an absolute game-changer.
Okay, so what exactly is empathy at scale and democratising research? To me, it's about enabling as many people as possible to hear the in-depth perspectives and insights that your customers have. The more people on product and innovation and insights teams that get a chance to go out and connect with customers, the easier it is to innovate faster, understand those key touchpoints, create amazing experiences, or better differentiate the product from competitors. When people across marketing engage with and understand their target audiences, they can create campaigns that have messaging that better resonates with our ads and packaging that appeals to key target audiences. So creating empathy at scale, and democratising research is just so powerful, but it can be so hard.
As you can see, by this visual, it's a journey in finding and using customer feedback. It's a journey that often takes way too much time, and it's just way too hard. Whether you want to understand how your target audiences are responding to new product ideas to new designs, maybe a mobile experience, at the point that you want to talk with people and hear those in depth experiences and perspectives. That's really just the start of a pretty long journey. There's really just so many obstacles on this journey, as you try to reach that end goal, there on the right-hand side of the screen, driving actionable insights.
So we're going to talk about these five critical elements of democratising research. But we're going to do it against the backdrop of this journey. That includes the precession challenges, you know, getting and managing respondents coordinating, you know, your colleagues and other observers that might want to be watching in the backroom, giving and reviewing some pre-work, we're going to talk about that. We're going to talk about the in-session challenges and put them in the context of that of maximising engagement. And, you know, again, just ensuring that there's structure and so forth, as well as the post-session challenges, and there's a lot there in terms of trying to turn all of that feedback in those perspectives into some sort of report that can be shared. At the end of the day, though, you know, in order to democratise research, you have to do two things.
Number one, you have to be thinking about how you can be saving time, shaving hours off of every interview, because, I can tell you, you might spend some time doing the actual interview, but getting the respondents sending the invites, managing them, after the session, looking at all the videos and putting stuff together and gleaning sentiment or the key takeaways and aha moments. It can really, really, really add up. So you have to be number one, just be thinking about how you can save time through that whole process while at the same time delivering number two, better insights that can help drive all of those key decisions.
So let's talk about and unpack these five keys to democratising research, a bit more. So I'm going to go into each of these in a little bit more detail in subsequent slides. But just to kind of set the stage a little bit.
Number one, it starts with, you know, enabling effortless coordination of scheduling, and managing really, everybody that's going to be involved in these sessions in these interviews.
Second, we're going to talk about the importance of enabling both live and self-captured conversations. So, it's really important.
Third, you need to make it easy to maximise engagement with everybody involved, if you're not going to do that, there's no way that, you know, if it's not easy to try to get as good of perspectives as possible, and rich dialogue and conversation going, then you're not going to democratise research.
And after you do all of that, of course, the fourth thing that we're going to spend a little bit of time on is the insight side and how important it is, because it is hard to glean those key takeaways, when you're taught… It's not a quantitative survey, it's people talking, it's sharing and getting those perspectives. And so you really need some sort of tool or process in place to kind of help you generate those insights automatically.
And then after you do that, the fifth critical element that we'll talk about is the importance of making it easy to share. You know, really broadly those insights that you're learning across your team, across many teams in the organisation. So the first question to ask yourself is whether or not you have a process or some tools in place to make it really easy for a broad group of people to schedule, and to coordinate all of the people who might be involved in those feedback sessions. So if you're forcing everybody to just use the regular calendar, to send invites to schedule respondents, observers, maybe other moderators, or even translators, it can be a bit of a nightmare. And that's that visual there on the bottom of the screen. Somebody's calendar can fill up pretty quickly, and that's really hard. And you're not going to get, you know, democratisation of research. If that, you know, you start out and it's just so hard for people to just manage that.
On the other hand, a best practice is to have technology and tools in place that serve as kind of a central hub for everybody that's involved so that you can manage invites to respondents or observers. You can see there in the picture that like, wouldn't it be nice that if you're doing this and you want to have somebody who's an observer that you can send them a specific link, and then they come in, and you make sure that they don't see the last name or PII, and the respondents don't see them and things like that. So you can kind of coordinate all of that maybe before you ever talk to a respondent because there's going to be things that you don't want them to make sure that they, you know, legally can't share. So you might have some sort of an NDA or other paperwork that needs to be done, you want to make sure that it's in one place that is managed, maybe they can't even get into the session until that's done. So you can manage all those NDAs. So that's another example, just making it easy for people to manage, you know, the paperwork that's involved.
So we have to think about that, and you have to think about is there a system that can really help ensure that, once you've got all that done, that when the respondents are coming, that when they show up, that the tech that they're using, actually will connect correctly. All of these things are inhibitors to democratising research. Why? Because it makes it hard for people to actually go out and do this, you know, without spending hours and hours of time, and probably getting pretty frustrated. So without all this in place, it just makes it too difficult for the broader teams to even consider managing multiple interviews with their target audiences, even if they want to.
Now, in addition to the scheduling aspects on the pre-session side, many times, people who are looking to talk with our target audience, first, want to ask a few questions, maybe to a big broad group, maybe 50, 60, 70 people, and then maybe they want to narrow it down to a smaller number than they actually have a live conversation with. And so, this is about like, you know, being able to scale qualitative research, even before you even have a live session, where you're enabling broad feedback very, very quickly.
So the question to ask yourself here is, how easy is it for your team to do just this? Because oftentimes, as I was saying, they might want to talk to many respondents, get some... have respondents do a few tasks first, or answer a few questions, and then review some of those responses and decide which of those people that they want to talk to in more depth. And then ideally, even leverage some with that self-captured feedback and perspectives during the live conversations themselves, to get an even more in depth understanding where they can say, "Hey, you said this here, let me just show it to you. What did you mean by that?" Again, if this is easy for a broad group of people, it will enable greater empathy at scale, and it goes to that goal of democratising research.
Now, the third critical element, I mentioned, was around maximising engagement. And this one is kind of a, this is a pretty big deal. So we're going to spend a little bit of time here talking about this. As somebody who's literally had hundreds of conversations with customers, over the years, I can personally recall how I would try to have my notes document up on a second screen with the video conference up on my first, and have kind of everything ready, I have my template of questions that I would want to ask and I try to take notes while recording and maybe jot down certain points in time when something really memorable was said, or I felt there was an aha sort of moment, that then I knew, "Okay, I'm going to later go back and try to go back to that spot in the video to review". It was just hard, it was even harder to enable my broader team because I didn't have the tools to ensure that I could enable my team to really capture all those key moments, or to even make it as easy as possible for them to stick to the script of questions.
Trying to keep track of everything just did not enable me to maximise engagement, because there was so much going on to keep track of while the person was talking. But having purpose-built tools for structuring the conversation and capturing key moments that can really be the first step in actually maximising engagement.
So a couple of the pictures that you see on the screen here, wouldn't it be nice if you just kind of had your guide, your question guide, interview guide, just kind of built into that web conferencing tool where it just shows up there. And as you go through and you click those boxes, they're automatically noted in the video recording, making it easier for you to jump to that part later, once you're viewing the recording. And maybe when somebody says something really, really interesting, or has that light bulb or aha moment that you can just click a button, and it saves that moment goes back a little bit, you know, 15, 20 seconds, and like grabs the audio from there, the audio and video and grabs, you know that or 15 or 30 seconds and you didn't have to worry about it just there. So you can check that out later. Those are the types of things that end up taking your mind off of trying to keep notes and keep track of everything and being able to really engage with the people that you're trying to get feedback from.
Now, of course, it's important that you also are using tools that are enabling people to share their perspectives across a variety of mediums. Whether it's the basic share my screen option, or the more advanced sharing, such as on maybe somebody's mobile device, and being able to see how they're tapping it or how they're scrolling right or zooming or you know pinching, you know, all of that, or maybe on an interactive virtual whiteboard, where people can each have their own colour pen and highlighter, point out things that they're liking or disliking on the screen. All of that's really important.
Maximising respondent engagement is really, really critical. But when it comes to this third area of just maximising engagement in general, I'm not just talking about the respondents, because there are more people that are sometimes involved in this research. Sometimes you might have a colleague, if you're an agency, you might have a client that wants to sit in the back room that you don't want the respondents to be able to see.
Maximising engagement overall can be maximised, maximising engagement for those people, those colleagues, and those observers, who could benefit from seeing and hearing these feedback sessions firsthand. The challenge with more traditional web conferencing tools is that you can't have people in there without being seen. So the question that you need to ask yourself is how easy is it for people to view as a backroom observer?
You know, some people that I've talked with, they actually use two different web conferencing apps, and they turn one on and they send that invite to the respondents, and they give another invite to the observers, and they just share their screen and audio for the second web conferencing while they're talking with the people who they're trying to get feedback from. It's very tricky. There's actually a little bit of risk in there because if somebody doesn't mute themselves, on the other web conferencing that or the observers or maybe they see PII, because they see the last name of the person in the other web conferencing tool. So there's some risk in there. And of course, you know, in the old days, I'll call it "BC" here, which is "Before COVID". There was that one-way glass right, where observers in a a live setting, the in-person setting would be watching that feedback session. But the tools and the technology that's there now, makes it easy for those backroom observers where they can have their own chat, where they can watch everything and they can ensure that the respondent PII isn't shared, they can also click that button to save them a key or aha moment.
The point is, you need to be thinking about maximising engagement, not just for respondents, but for also those, you know, for everybody, all those team members. And that's really when we talk about democratising research, those people, those observers can also have great benefit from hearing that conversation firsthand and participating. Okay, so let's get to the fourth critical element. So this is... Now you've had the session, it's done. Now you have multiple people that you've spoken with. And now it's time to try to glean all those insights to turn all of that feedback and those experiences into something that's actionable.
Now, the question to ask yourself is, how easy have you made it for your team? Or is it for your team to turn those experiences into insights to get those key takeaways? You know, when you're done with sessions, is the transcript automatically created? Now today in a lot of web conferencing tools, you can get that transcript. But you know, a lot of times it's not perfect, right? Can you easily edit that transcript in case there are any errors, and then be able to download that transcription? Is it easy to find sentiment around key topics that you had, you know, that you were hoping to find around so you know, finding those key themes, and then finding the sentiment around those key themes, and maybe even creating editing, highlight reels and clips around all those key moments that were saved? If you're going to try to democratise research, you're going to need to make it ultra-simple for people to turn all of those conversations and experiences into insights quickly. Again, without the right tools, this can take an inordinate amount of time, with potentially never reaching your goal of getting to actionable insights.
Now, after you've created reports and insights, of course, the fifth critical element, it's about making it easy for people to share those insights and takeaways across their team or across many teams. So the last question to ask yourself, as you look to democratise research, is how easy is that at your organisation?
Once people are done with those interviews, and they've got some of those great moments, maybe they were able to create that report. And not just like here's the report, here's the PowerPoint, here's the Google doc, Word doc or whatever. But to be able to easily share those video snippets, those highlight reels, to create those highlight reels and to share those to people on their team, or maybe even if you're an agency to clients that you're doing some research for. Being able to do this with one click sort of simplicity, means those aha moments are truly going to be understood and be seen by a much, much broader group of people. But if you're requiring people to have video editing software and video editing skills, and then being able to take those snippets, and to upload them in then to share those links, it just takes too much time. Again, sharing videos, you know, it's hard, right? It can be daunting. Video files can't really be shared via email, because they're too big. So you have to upload them and say, it can just feel really hard.
But again, if you have the right tools in place, you can further democratise research, because all of those obstacles to sharing videos just kind of go away. So what's the payoff of focusing on these five critical elements as it pertains to getting in depth perspectives and feedback? Well, you know, I have talked to so many people about this, and it's unbelievable how significant it is. If you can remove the obstacles along the journey from the pre-session, that I was talking about, to the in-session, to the post-session of creating the reports and those video snippets and highlights and so forth. For each and every interview along that journey. It can really add up.
I've talked to several people who say that it can take several hours just for each and every interview. Now that might... you might say like how can that be if you're having a 60 or 90 minute interview? But think of... just think about the amount of time it takes to coordinate and schedule people to come for it, and some of them don't show up, and maybe to get the pre-work done, and if there's an NDA to get that done, and then of course, to have the session itself, it takes time, but then after the session to go through everything, you know, find those aha moments, to read through that transcript, to create that report, create some highlight reels, etc. It can take a long time. And if you think about it, if you're doing, you know, more than a couple dozen interviews, get up, I just use the example thereof maybe 100 interviews, then multiply that out, that can be hundreds of hours, that you're saving, you know, just you whether it's focus groups or individuals, it just, it really adds up. But most importantly, it leads to better and more actionable insights that you and others on the team can provide. In order to help your product and your company, really differentiate from competitors to increase the adoption of your products and drive more sales. And of course, if you're an agency that can do this, it means that you're creating happier clients that are becoming more sticky, or you're becoming more sticky with them.
So the benefits of following those new best practices for democratising research, there's no doubt that they're huge and that they have a huge impact on the bottom line to each and every business. So now, I believe in these best practices after spending years leading product teams, the tools just weren't there for democratising research.
However, companies like "Discuss" do now offer the tools to help democratise research, whether by enabling more people to coordinate and manage live conversations, or to drive unmoderated self-captured research. Our platform really supports those best practices I shared, to ultimately turn those experiences into insights that can drive all those big and even little decisions that can make a difference to being a growing and leading company. We also offer an extensive set of" Customer Success and Support" elements to ensure our customers maximise their success in democratising research.
Now, if you're looking to democratise research at your organisation, we hope you do a couple of things. I hope you follow some of those critical elements that I just outlined, making it easier for you to know more people at your organisation to do more research. I also hope that you check out "Discuss" and that you may chat with us, because we have a purpose-built research platform that's been designed for a global audience with a customer success team that's dedicated to maximising your team's research success. And we have a lot of experience working with organisations across virtually every industry in size across the world.
So with that, I want to say thank you for taking the time to listen to this overview of the five critical elements for democratising research. And you can check out a portion of our platform pretty easily. You can see the link there for a 14-day free trial. And we hope that you give that a try. And also stop by and chat with us here at UXDX. We're so happy to be here in New York, supporting this great organisation and conference. Thank you.

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