Stop researching your users and start talking with them

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User Research quantifies what we think we want to know, User Insights discover the things we didn’t know we needed to know. What we lack is a way to get them efficiently, effectively, and on an ongoing basis

Why User Research isn’t User Friendly

Every Christmas for the past 30 years I always get the same gift from my Family; a pack of Turkish Delight. Come that special day, without fail, a small hexagonal package is handed over to me, leaving little doubt as to its contents. The thing is, I’m not really a big fan of the stuff. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine and I’ll definitely eat it, but it’s not my favourite. Despite that, every year it gets handed over to me like a magic box of fairy gold meant to surprise and delight. How did I get to this point; simple, it’s the difference between user research and user insight and how we can improve our innovation process.

Over 30 years ago, my Mum overheard me say “I’d love some Turkish Delight.” As a result, that Christmas I received my very first box, all wrapped beautifully and tied with a bow. Seconds later, the wrapping lay scrunched in the corner of the living room and I was tucking in to my first piece of Turkish Delight. She asked me if I liked it, and I nodded with a mouthful of jelly goodness. And thus a long-standing tradition was born.

As far as my Mum was concerned, she had landed on a winner. I had said I’d love some Turkish Delight, she gave me some, and I had said I liked it. Job done. Christmas sorted for the next 30 years. What this admittedly overly simple User Research discovered was that I liked Turkish Delight. What it failed to uncover, was why I had asked for it and if it was something I wanted for Christmas for the next 30 years.

If we had engaged in a deeper conversation, the real driver behind my need would have been revealed and my Christmases would be radically different.

On that fateful day, 30 years ago, I was reading C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe. The book kept mentioning this fantastical sweet one of the main characters wanted – Turkish Delight. I had never had it. It sounded magical. What I wanted was to try it, to discover a piece of that magic, and wrap myself in the fiction of this incredible world. I wanted to experience the things the characters in the books did. I wanted to visit the snow (something I wouldn’t do for another 20 years), ride in a sleigh, meet a talking beaver, and own a magic sword.

What I got was 30 years of Turkish Delight.

Innovation Today

Fast-forward to today. My love for the fantastic has lead me to my role helping organisations to innovate by connecting with their users and understand their needs in a way that feels like magic. But in the current landscape, it’s sure not easy.

Readily accessible technology and services, paired with fast and iterative methodologies like Lean and Agile have lead to an explosion of competition. Products and services are shipped faster and more frequently, and the ‘next thing’ is always just around the corner. Organisations are constantly iterating and looking for something that resonates. A user has more potential solutions to a single problem than they have total problems. The noise is deafening.

As a result, innovation is turning away from big bang acts of imaginative creation, and towards insightful solutions that integrate with people’s lives and improve it in meaningful ways. These products and services seem to ‘magically’ understand what a user needs before they even know they need it. Everything just feels right; the holy grail of customer-centric design.

But if a user doesn’t even know they need these solutions, how can we as innovators discover them? These types of insights are incredibly difficult to obtain through traditional User Research methods. There is very little quantitative data that can lead to this level of understanding and empathy. It assumes the questions being asked will produce the answers we need. What we really need are User Insights.

An Insight into User Insights

For everything a user says they want or need, there are a multitude that remain unspoken. When paired with articulated needs, these hidden drivers can produce meaningful solutions that bridge the gap between between iteration and innovation. Discovering User Insights involves opening a conversation with users. It involves posing topics, not questions, and it listens as the users explore the space, often travelling down unexpected paths. Asking users, ‘Do you like Turkish Delight,” or “What does Turkish Delight mean to you”  is very different to saying “Let’s talk about Turkish Delight.” It puts no emphasis on why or even if it is important and what place it should have in a user’s life. As humans, part of our core makeup centers around storytelling, and it is through stories that we connect and find meaning, sometimes more in what we left unsaid.

However generating User Insights is an incredibly time consuming and expensive exercise for an organisation. Diaries and journals, interviews, focus groups, and personas; all these artifacts are valuable but require a level of investment and ongoing commitment that most companies can’t or aren’t willing to buy into.

As Innovators, we all agree that User Insights are one of the most valuable tools available to us. They give us qualitative data and highlight important connections that typical quantitative research struggles to uncover. While we all know we should be using them, what we currently lack is a way to get them efficiently, effectively, and on an ongoing basis.

Enter Pliik

Pliik is the Innovator’s Playground; a collection of digital tools and techniques that empower design thinkers to open conversations with their users and discover insights that lead to meaningful products and services.

The core of Pliik is simple;

  • open a conversation with a group of users,
  • pose them topics you want to learn more about,
  • let them respond naturally, and
  • piece together the spoken and unspoken patterns to discover meaningful insights.

Whether its a short text message, a journal entry, or a photo, every response from a real user starts to build a picture of what they find important about a topic. Pliik then uses your personal AI assistant to automatically find patterns, leaving you free to focus on the patterns themselves and the things that weren’t said. Machines are better able to discover patterns in what users have said. Humans are better at discovering what was left unsaid. The combination of the two leads to real user insights, insights that pave the way to effective innovation.

With Pliik you’ll be able to;

  • open conversations with a group of users you invite,
  • let them respond using text and images via our connected smartphone app,
  • use your personal AI assistant to automatically discover patterns in the responses,
  • use our powerful filtering and search tools to define your own patterns, and
  • piece them all together into Insights which you can measure and track further experiments against.

Help us to help you

Like many of you, we’re on a journey to go from an idea on a napkin to a viable product and business. We think what we’ve created is something truly innovative, insightful, and a little bit magical, and we’d like you to experience it yourself.

Don’t just give your customers 30 years of Turkish Delight. Give them Turkish Delight in a world they’ll never forget.

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