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Product Research , Strategy — 09.28.2020

Why You Might Consider User Research During the Quarantine

Anna Eaglin, Principal, Product Strategy

There’s no question the COVID-19 quarantine altered humanity and civilization in ways that might change our behavior for years to come. But one behavior I thought would never change was our declining interest to pick up the phone to answer a call. 

Last Summer, a study reported 90 percent of people won’t answer the phone anymore, effectively claiming “cold outreach is dead.” 

Fast forward to April 2020 and pollsters began reporting a 25 percent increase in productivity due to more and more people not only answering the phone but staying on for longer periods of time. The end result of this trend means the polls are more likely to represent the makeup of the general population.

What caused this shift? People are in their homes now more than ever. 

  1. By not being in an open office, people won’t be overheard by anyone but their immediate family.
  2. Being home means they aren’t traveling as much or doing a lot of activities, therefore they are simply are around more often.
  3. People understand that we are in a rebuilding time for a lot of companies, and can empathize with wanting to make improvements to a product.
  4. Some people look forward to talking to someone via a phone call because they are unable to socialize in other places and possibly don’t have as many virtual options for socialization as others.

It should be stated that the quarantine is not seen as a vacation, and some have even more burden now than before (hello, parents). Be sure you’re gathering data via multiple methods to ensure their voices can also be captured when they can’t take a call.

What does this trend mean for businesses? Now is the time to ramp up your user research. 

Best practices for user research phone calls 

Reach out and recruit

Start by understanding your research goals, and what questions you want to answer. Then reach out to the users who can help you get there. Want to vet a new feature? Look at the users who you think would benefit, or the ones who’ve created workarounds.

Start with an outreach survey, or a quick personal email to gauge interest.

Let them know why you’re doing research

Help your users understand why they’d be a great fit to participate in your research. Maybe they can influence the next phase of the product, or help fix a critical issue. 

Be clear about the time and what it entails

During your introduction, let users know that this research call is a 30-minute screen share where you’ll walk through the product. Ideally, research calls should last no longer than an hour. 

Pay them!

Your users are more likely to accept your ask to participate in your research study and give better feedback. Pollsters are reporting phone calls that were supposed to last 10 minutes were lasting on average 14 minutes, a big increase. 

User research is key to effective digital product management. Reach out to us for an assessment of how user research could benefit you. 

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