Three top tips for customer experience research

Priyal Kanabar

by , Senior Customer Researcher

at PensionBee

30 Oct 2023 /  

magnifying glass with question mark in the middle.

The new Consumer Duty regulation expects businesses to understand their customers. Companies must design product features in a way that helps people.

The User Experience (UX) field contains researchers, designers, product managers and marketers. These professionals focus on improving lives through data-led empathetic design. In other words, outcomes one and three of the new Consumer Duty.

I recently shared my experiences as a UX researcher when Quietroom invited me to speak at their excellent event about pension communications.

Here are my top three tips for making an impact with your research.

Share little and often

Have you ever worried that nobody appears to be reading your research reports? This is a common worry among researchers. Luckily, there’s an easy, though not obvious, solution. To build engagement with your colleagues, involve them from the beginning. Speak to people from across the business.

Ask questions, such as:

  • what do they want to learn about customers?
  • what are they trying to achieve through their day-to-day work?; and
  • what do they believe about customer needs?

Share results as they come in. Don’t wait until you’ve finished the project.

You can bring your colleagues along with you on the learning journey by sharing:

  • interview clips;
  • survey results;
  • external study insights;
  • analytics trends; and
  • anything else that you learn.

I share research insights on a weekly basis. This ongoing process helps colleagues learn as I learn. This can help them make decisions based on recent insights.

The world is always changing. Sharing insights little and often helps keep everyone informed about changing consumer needs.

Let them hear it from the customer

The power of a < two-minute customer clip is amazing. Even better if accompanied by some supporting stats. I often see colleagues have ‘lightbulb moments’ when watching a clip.

We come to work to make the lives of our customers better in some way. At PensionBee, we focus on making pensions easy. Your workplace most likely focuses on another consumer need.

You might feel at some distance from the people whose lives you’re impacting with your work. Watching customers talk about their experiences can help centre the focus on them.

You can connect with their ways of seeing the world, their pain points, and their hopes for the future.

I show a customer clip when I have a captive audience. This includes:

  • all-company weekly Show ‘n’ Tell;
  • researcher-led presentation sessions;
  • team innovation hour; and
  • more where relevant.

This builds customer knowledge across the company little and often.

Treat underrepresented people with care

Diversity in research samples is crucial. We must also take care not to link specific outcomes to inherent characteristics.

For instance, being a woman doesn’t have to mean you’re more likely to have lower pay than men. It doesn’t have to mean that you’re more likely to have a smaller pension pot.

Instead, pay and pension gaps often result from women taking on more unpaid care work. Policies like maternity leave tend to nudge parents into unequal sharing of responsibilities. Women in heterosexual couples are often less able to take part in paid work. This leads to less money, savings, and smaller pension pots.

Social and economic factors impact individuals in different ways based on their characteristics. As Judith Butler noted, gender is a cultural construct, not a product of nature.

As a society, we often make decisions that impact other people’s lives. We create policies, expectations, and products based on our beliefs. Too often, we exclude people from accessing the resources they need. We do this by accident or on purpose. Empathy and research allow us to get closer to ‘seeing’ people as they are, and not through the ideas we already have.

Interpret results from surveys, interviews, or other research methods with care for context. Think about the world around the people you’re learning about. How might it influence the way they behave or the outcomes they have? What pressures do they face that others don’t? Think about your own biases and blind spots. How might this be affecting what you learn and share about people you’re researching?

Human experiences are fascinating. Bring love and care of your fellow humans to your research. Bring your colleagues on the learning journey with you. In this way, you’ll make a positive impact as a researcher.

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