Customer-centricity remains critical even as customers are constantly changing, so the demand for insight into people’s thoughts and behaviors will continue to increase. This means that there is a crucial need for researchers to collaborate with business stakeholders in order to provide the right kinds of data to meet their needs, whether they need to inform day-to-day decisions or long-term strategy.
We spoke to some of our customers about how they approach this kind of cross-functional collaboration. Read on to learn about the importance of early planning, continued alignment, and building trust.
I've been involved in what is technically called “research” for a number of years now, but I've almost never called it “research,” and I think it's rarely been viewed as such. It's been about helping colleagues solve their customer conundrums. For example: why are customers dropping off during the online sales funnel? How can we get customers to send forms back more quickly? This is where the Behavioural Insights Group can help! For me as a “researcher,” the key to successful collaboration within a business setting is to make sure that you are totally focussed on tackling the business' actual pain-points and problems. For as long as this has remained the bulk of our work, the collaboration with the business has gone very well. Here are some tips to help make this work:
Personal connections: it helps if your colleagues know you, trust you, and know they can come to you with their questions.
Knowledge sharing: regularly send round your latest insights and have all research information freely available in a shared space.
Record the impact: keep track of all the instances where your research (either from an A/B test, a fake-door test, or a customer survey) has led to an improvement in performance.
In our work, research questions can arise from any functional area, including the digital product team, the PR and social team, or the campaign development team. Our job on the research team is to help determine the right tools, methodologies, and process to reach our audience and arm our teams with the insights they need.
As researchers, we have to make sure we’re clear on the question or problem we are trying to solve. Take the time up front to align with your team on what you’d like to learn and understand how the data will be used.
As a UX Researcher, I want pure collaboration with my product partners to ensure complete alignment and actionable insights. It’s critical to have them spend time going over your research plan and reviewing your questionnaire or script, so you are all on the same page. You are still driving the research, but they are in the back seat along for the ride for the entire journey!
Whenever possible, have them listen to or watch interviews or usability sessions, so they can hear and see what's happening. After that experience, they also become your biggest advocates. I just don't see the downside in collaborating with business people and having them own more of a stake in the research game.
Collaboration between Product Managers and Research really needs to begin… at the beginning. Many of the challenges, and even battles, that seem to emerge when these groups work together is often rooted in a lack of understanding. When Research is at the table in the early stages of development, they are able to see the goal, understand the guardrails, and appreciate the limitations (of time or budget). If they aren’t there at the beginning, requests for collecting data can seem misguided, or inappropriate, or rushed. When that happens, Research starts asking questions wanting to understand all the stuff that was figured out at the beginning. While coming from a good place, Product Managers see Research being slow, too conservative, and maybe even a bit controlling.
But, when they start the journey together, researchers can appreciate the needs of the project and can adapt the type of research needed at each stage of the process. They can see all the decision points along the way, and have an opportunity to lend their expertise to make sure that the right kind of data (with the right level of rigor) is present at each stage of development. This allows Researchers to work with Product Managers and to become part of the team.