Hatch Design Talks 2023





Leveraging customer insights for agile design strategies

Leveraging customer insights for agile design strategies

Sara Logel

Sara Logel

Lead UX research consultant at UserTesting

Lead UX research consultant at UserTesting

About the Episode

Sara will be speaking at Hatch, about how a company called Staffbase created processes to implement fast feedback, but in this episode we focus a bit more on one of her core skills: running workshops together with companies.




Damian: Hi, Sarah, thank you so much for being with me today in this short podcast that we do with the Speakers of Hatch Conference. How are you doing?

Sara: Yeah, doing well. Thanks for having me.

Damian: I want to know a little bit more about you. What's your background and how did you end up in user research?

Sara: Yeah come with more of a business marketing background, but from that... Got interested in research from the beginning and using insights to make marketing and business decisions So started out in trends analysis looking at company data in the home improvement Industry of all things random, but that was the focus then transitioned to doing more agency side work for a variety of different companies McDonald's, Google, some of the big names and was doing more market customer insights type research, so concept, testing claims, messaging ,advertising, also some needs assessment as well. 

With that, Google was a big customer. And so we were like trying to do UX research, but in a kind of customer insights way. And so it was a really interesting introduction to what is the right way to do this? We're not using the right method. And so that's when. I made the switch just due to that interest and kind of all the other possibilities out there of moving more from that market research space into User research and we continue to learn and evolve through discussions and conferences like this as well.

Damian: And obviously you joined UserZoom, which now was acquired by UserTesting. How was that transition? Because you were doing first consultancy research for this big Fortune 500 companies, and then you switched into this very different, but very similar position at the same time. How was the switch for you?

Sara: Yeah, the switch was actually quite easy, looking back, because I think that the core fundamentals of research stayed the same. And I was already again, doing some of those things with customers already. So it was just learning some new some slightly new approaches to different methods, but overall, that shift made a lot of sense, because we were still trying to solve and address some of the same problems and research questions just had maybe more tools and capabilities at my fingertips. 

 I was in the weeds doing a lot of the research on behalf of customers Previously and continue to do research at UserZoom now UserTesting, but i've also taken on a more consultative role ,so I work with a lot of our customers across different industries right now focused on mostly finance and insurance.

So work with, 30 different customers per se, and I'm able to hear what are they working on? How are they approaching research? What are the challenges they're facing? And that's been really good for me to learn and grow and see those similarities and differences as well.

Damian: And for what I know, a big part of your work consists in running workshops for UX folks and things like leadership and research. So what's the strategy for putting this workshops together? Do you have any specific methodology or how do you usually address this? I feel there's a lot of people who might be listening, who have to do this without the right training.

Sara: Yeah my method it's not like formulaic or anything by any means. 

I would say, one, starting with, as with everything, what's our goal? What are we trying to achieve? And at the end of this what's the outcome we're working towards? 

Maybe it's more of just a discussion or a session where we're asking questions, having a dialogue back and forth. Because I think a workshop the nature of it is collaborative and bringing different folks together to have discussions and move towards that outcome. So aligning from the beginning, why are we doing this?

What are we working towards? 

the next key important part of it is like who should we involve? And I think sometimes we limit it maybe to just the UX team or research but thinking about are there analytics folks or products folks? We should be involving in these discussions because who are we wanting to Get buy in from and who's going to be key for that outcome to be successful going forward 

The other thing I would say our best practice, is time, like this is something I get caught on a lot, but is really important is do we have a half day? Do we have a full day? What's realistic with people's workloads? So say we have a half day. Avoid over programming, think about what are the key things we need to do to get to that outcome and not try to overwhelm the day with too many things because a lot of the value from a workshop comes from the dialogue and if we find ourselves just jumping to the next agenda item.

We miss out on all that value and that's where kind of the gold lies, if you will. So just being really thoughtful around what's realistic in planning for discussion in your agenda. The activity is going to be this amount of time and then we're going to allow X amount of time for discussion.

You still need to move forward. We can't talk forever, but that's how I would think about it. 

And then the final thing I would say is facilitation is hard. If you're leading a workshop, you're putting it all together and you're facilitating.

So bringing along a co facilitator if you need that and just practice. I actually took a Nielsen Norman group training on facilitation and that was really valuable. And I think what they even say in that is it's, I think 10% prep, 90% practice, or one of those percentages. So just do it and try it and don't be afraid to iterate and learn on your workshop methodology and programming as well.

Damian: Yeah, I think it's as you said, it's something that once you've been doing it over and over again, it becomes more natural, but probably getting started is a little bit harder but particularly an experience that I've had, and I think a lot of people usually have is when one comes with the idea to actually run a workshop and to set, let's do this inside internally in the company, there's sometimes like a bit negative preconceptions, right?

Because it's just like, Oh, you know. what is the reason for this? What, what is going to come up with it? It's just, they use the word "workshop" just to get together and brainstorm, but , when do you think it actually makes sense for an organization to have an internal workshop and most importantly, how do you get people excited about it?

Sara: I think when it's important to have a workshop and again, different views here, maybe, but I think is when we need collaboration is needed. We need different viewpoints. I don't can't make this decision on my own. We need to have different creative thoughts and viewpoints coming together. And again, oftentimes outside of our team, like some of these things, maybe we can address in our stand ups, or maybe we can address in one off meetings, but if we need to bring different people together to share those different views, to align on what we're doing next from here, that's when a workshop can be really beneficial, because it's those activities like Classic sticky notes or whatnot, putting things on a board where we're able to get everybody's views and ideas out there in the open and then collaborate and discuss from there 

And I think yeah getting excited it goes to your point around like people say workshop a lot at our organization I think we call yeah meetings workshops because we think it may get people more jazzed, but I don't know if it does necessarily so I think calling it what it is, but being prepared can help get people maybe not excited, but understand why, nobody always wants to block off a morning or a whole day.

But if you send an agenda ahead of time, why are we having a workshop? What do we hope to achieve by the end of this? Here are the activities that we're going to do throughout the day. That can get people from the beginning Saying okay. I see why we're doing this. This is thought out. I'm, willing and happy to participate And then yeah, just good facilitation.

I think throughout the workshop as well Try to think about who are you going to have in the room to have these people interacted before if not Okay, then maybe we cater the activities we're doing around that right? How can we? Add a bit of fun and play into what may not be an exciting potentially, thing to have in the diary for people.

Yeah, a lot of thoughts there, but I think language preparation and just trying to really think about who's in the room and the activities that can get them more excited and engaged during that time.

Damian: I guess part of it, it is the outcomes, right? Because as a person who takes a workshop, you're like: okay, if this is going to make, bring change or bring a transformational thing to the company, then it makes sense. But if it's just going to be just to have a discussion and forever forget about it, I have better things to do 

Sara: Yeah. And you've got to think, yeah, if you're blocking off, let's say three, three, maybe a short time, three hours with 10 people, what's the cost of that meeting? 

But yeah it has to be focused on an outcome because otherwise, why are we spending time and resources to do this?

Damian: Let's segway to your talk at Hatch you're actually collaborating with Staffbase in the talk and you're breaking down a little bit how Staffbase works, what their research culture is, and how UserTesting has helped as well throughout the way.

Can you tell a little more about what to expect from the talk?

Sara: Yeah, so I think the talk's gonna be Really good. It's going to be Q&A based , really getting to hear how Staffbase have built this culture of fast feedback and have a dedicated research team, but how our product folks designers Getting feedback from using his users and customers to make decisions in their day to day I think if we think about it.

That can be a really hard thing to do from an organizational perspective it's this culture of putting users and insights first and it seems like staff base has really done that So i'm excited to share during that talk. How have they got there? it will be some strategy kind of cultural components and then we'll also get into what does fast feedback mean for them?

How have they actually applied it and what learnings have come out of it as well?

Damian: Yeah, Staffbase is a pretty large company, a Unicorn in fact :are those learnings that you're planning to bring together also applicable to like medium sized companies, maybe with not such large research teams as well.

Sara: Yeah, I think those learnings are definitely applicable across all different types of companies because I think, and we'll hear if Staffbase agrees, but it's less around the size of the company for them. And it's more around that culture component and the core values and beliefs that the organization has. And I think has had from the beginning. So for example, they're a bit bigger, but they have this culture of testing and insights, and we want to learn and change and adapt. And we see that in the research and experiences that they're putting forward for their end customers.

But we'll also hear, I think, how they've changed their internal structure and research model based on learnings and whatnot as well. And so that's just core to who they are. I work with a lot of other big organizations that have been around for a long time and they're nowhere near that. Because they have all these this history and previous ways of working right where getting feedback takes a lot of time and why would we do that when we just have the analytics and all these other things that are working against that type of culture.

Yeah, I think it's less probably about size. I think what you'll hear can be applied across many different companies. It's really just a big change management piece to a degree is how can we bring others into the conversation across the business around how insights and incorporating feedback can make better decisions for our users, our customers, and then ultimately The business, right?

Like saving, being more efficient, making more revenue. That's some of the important things from a business perspective at the end of the day.

Damian: Yeah. It sounds super interesting. I think there's going to be a lot of people who are data curious or insight curious, and they haven't really got a grasp on it that they're gonna get a ton from it. So I'm really looking forward to it. 

Lastly, I wanted to ask, what are you most excited about coming to Hatch besides obviously giving a talk there?

Sara: Yeah, I think two things. One, we were just joking that the one and only time I've been in Berlin was during new year's Eve and there were fireworks going on everywhere. So I'm excited to go to city during

Damian: And a quiet

Sara: a different time. Yeah.

Damian: Yes.

Sara: The other thing is I'm starting to do more in person things and I find what's great about conferences or talks or whenever we can get together with our customers as well is a lot of the time I find myself like nodding my head, agreeing to what is being said in the talks and, may have heard similar themes before, but what I always look forward to is those little nuggets, like those little surprises.

Where you hadn't thought about something in that way and then can quickly apply that into your business or the way that you work. That's I think one of the most valuable things from this because people aren't going to shift their culture overnight, but there may be little nuggets and ways of working or opportunities that you identify when you hear talks or just speaking to people at the event itself.

And that's what's always so invigorating for me. If I can leave with three things, three small, it can be very small things that I can act on after an event like this. I'm always, but that's what I'm aiming for. So yeah, looking forward to it.

Damian: Yeah, that's a that's a really good really good insight. Thank you so much for joining. And I'll see you in October with, in a more quiet setting that you've been in Berlin last time. There's also the festival of lights, which is happening that weekend. So if you're staying for it, it's a very quiet, very pretty mapping festival all around the city. So

Sara: Good to know. I didn't know that. Thank you for that.

Damian: you're welcome. All right, then I'll see you in October. Thank you. Bye bye.

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