Like any design project should start with who will use a piece of design, it’s important that we know who we are researching for and why. In short, we need to know our client’s needs before we can understand their customer’s needs.

While the end-users we speak to when we’re in the research session may benefit from any positive product improvement informed by the research insights, they’re not actually the person who has to make use of the research data itself. The business client is. Service Design Thinking (an off-shoot of the UX / Design industry) has highlighted the importance of the business that commissions the research and the system that supports the feature as users too. Research insights that don’t bear the business’ needs in mind, may never land in a way that makes the research appear effective or even worth the investment. 

The benefit of knowing our clients better

Getting to know the business needs of our clients helps us as researchers know things like the UX maturity, long-term strategic goals, technical limitations and what has worked (and failed) in the past. Knowing this context coming into the research helps us evaluate if the suggestions the users are making are even within the realm of possibility for the team to implement. After all, the business stakeholders, product pipelines and ticket backlogs are all needed to make use of end-customers’ suggestions. 

Research is more than just gathering data and ticking the user-centred design box. Our main goal is to empathise with the human on the other side of the screen and deliver valuable, actionable insights. 

What is an insight if it’s not actionable? 

An insight is only helpful if you can do something with it. We’ve seen research fall flat when there are Insights on one side, telling a rich story of interaction and sentiment, and implementation viability on the other side with an ocean of business rules between them. 

Part of our job is to synthesise our research data into a format that can be easily used and understood by our clients to aid their product. If we as researchers don’t know the story behind the feature, then the insights – no matter how powerful– can’t be applied in a way that is truly meeting the needs of the other user in the system; the Business.  

Better UXR comes from knowing what happens back stage

Become a temporary subject matter expert

It takes a lot of effort to fully onboard a researcher into a product team or even a simple feature. So how do we get the perfect ratio of business insight without becoming full-blown team members? We’ve found that it helps when researchers become temporary subject matter experts. 

We recommend onboarding researchers into the business context by giving just enough background on the feature to know what the challenges are, what you hope to learn and what you want to do with the data. Knowing how the business needs to implement change helps us deliver the research data in a way that respects technical and processes limitations, but can still help deliver improved experiences. 

Our job is to know as much as possible about what people do with that technology. Our client’s job is to help us understand what that knowledge needs to do for their business. Once we’re there, and can understand the ramifications of the suggestions the users are making, we can then make the research data usable to our clients so that it can become action-items and backlog tickets. 

As cheesy as it sounds, collaboration is key. We like to pull in the product owners, designers, engineers and analysts as often as possible. There is always space to learn more or adapt the way the insight could inform a technical outcome or better challenge an underlying issue.

We found the more time we spend working with our clients and their businesses, the better we get to know them and their unique situations. Over time we’re able to better evaluate where a theme of insights is headed and how to direct the research focus to fill the gaps in the knowledgebase. We love it when our role in a team evolves from being the people who report back on the data to the people who can spot bigger trends and gaps in a company’s customer knowledge. 

Our belief is that researchers need to value the people and processes that will use the research insights and findings as much as the end-users. To do that, we need to get to know them first using the tried-and-tested research methodology – just ask.

If you would like to chat with us about how we can help you uncover insightful and actionable customer data, send us a message. We would love to chat.