The head of the ADS Agency interviewed Ekaterina Loginova, the head of the international usability research department.
Ekaterina Loginova, Kaspersky Lab: "The most important thing is for a person to feel comfortable while communicating with us"
Creating a customer-oriented product that is in demand in real life is a goal that brings product managers and users together. Through UX research, the dialogue between business and consumer becomes opened and informed.
How to organize UX-research in your company? What resources should be used to implement them? How to motivate a respondent to pass an interview? How has the widespread shift to telecommuting affected the research?
Ekaterina Loginova, the head of international user research at Kaspersky Lab, shared her experience in organizing an internal UX-research department and conducting research in an online format.
Why did you decide to do UX-research without the help of a research agency? - I joined the company over 10 years ago as the first in-house UX researcher. At that time, the company carried out irregular user research with the help of various research agencies, and initially, my task was to transfer research assignments to these agencies and accompany the entire process from the brief and contract to the final report and presentation of the results to the product team. Almost immediately it became clear that research should become an independent internal process. Knowing our products thoroughly, we better than anyone else could organize and conduct research, we know better what to look for when testing, what questions to ask the respondent. We quickly abandoned research agencies in Russia, recruited a group of researchers and began to do everything on our own. Now we only use agencies when our own resources are insufficient, when the flow of tasks is too large, and also to support research abroad.
If there is no researcher in the team - no need to wait for him to appear, start communicating with clients right now.
We recently expanded our team by allowing our product designers - the guys who design the interface and paint the look of the product - to do the research themselves. And this is another important step towards improving the quality of the UX. By communicating directly with their users, product designers develop empathy for them. And working on the interface, representing a specific person, having feedback from him, the designer ultimately produces a more successful product. What difficulties did you meet on the way of organizing your own UX=research department? - The most pressing problem is the cultivation of the very culture of research in the company. When we started, the value of UX-research was an unrecognized business. The main problem was to justify the importance of activities, the expediency of spending resources, the need to hire people. But gradually, with the positive results of our work awareness of its value came. Now we no longer need to prove the effectiveness of the research. For an unprepared person who is faced with the task of organizing UX-research for the first time, it seems there are too many subtleties and nuances - it is difficult to understand where to start. What recommendations could you give? Who should do the research? - If there is no researcher in the team - no need to wait for him to appear, start communicating with clients right now. When UX researchers join the staff, I recommend that the product designer and the product team work as a whole and not abstract themselves from the researcher's work: the most important thing is to work in a team. Being involved in research will help everyone to be on the same page and make the right decisions here and now. How do I find respondents? - It depends on the product on which you want to get feedback. Our respondents can be roughly divided into 2 groups - current users and potential customers. We use different methods to attract our clients to research. In B2C, we can rely on you, for example, or use internal channels to acquire users, such as email newsletters, push notifications in our mobile applications, displaying an invitation in a desktop application, and others. The corporate sector has its own characteristics, depending on the complexity of the product and the target audience, we can entrust the recruiting to you, or go for an interview with a client through their account managers. There are many different ways. We usually look for potential clients with the help of a recruiting agency. How do you understand that the respondent belongs to your target audience? - We prescribe the criteria for finding respondents from our target audience in advance. The criteria differ from product to product and from research to research. We pay special attention to the requirements for respondents and the recruiting process itself. If the right respondents come, then the quality of the entire study will be at its best. When we transfer a recruiting task to you, the First recruiting agency of respondents ADS, we always keep in mind possible indulgences in the criteria in case the recruitment goes hard. A procedure such as pre-screening immediately helps to understand whether there will be difficulties with the recruitment. We highly appreciated your innovation - a video screening of a respondent, where he confirms his participation in the study and briefly talks about the experience of using our product, as well as about himself in general: his activities, hobbies, marital status. The most interesting thing is that this happens when checking the connection with the respondent, therefore make the most of this time. Thus, firstly, we get confirmation that the respondent is really using our product, secondly, we make sure that the technical part for online communication is in order, and thirdly, which is important, product researchers can understand in advance with whom they have to communicate. This removes additional barriers and helps to tune in to the conversation. The interviewer needs to prepare for the meeting with the respondent, he is also worried. By saying “also”, you mean that for the respondent, participation in the survey is an exciting process? Does it matter to you as researchers? - Kaspersky Lab is a large company, and, of course, this generates great reverence in the respondent towards us. Even voluntary participation in a survey inspires a person with emotions that he experiences, for example, at an interview - excitement, uncertainty. In such a state, it is difficult to open up, concentrate, and formulate thoughts in an expanded manner. Therefore, we are constantly working on ourselves. Realizing that the respondent is a bearer of extremely important information, we take care of creating such conditions in order to receive the highest quality data based on the results of the study. It is important for us that the person reveals himself as much as possible during the interview. Do I understand correctly that we are talking about a method of increasing respondents' loyalty? How does the quality of customer interaction improve as part of the research? - For us, first of all, it is important that the respondent feels comfortable during communication. You need to understand that we do not strive to increase the loyalty of each individual respondent, that is, we do not cultivate professional respondents. Moreover, we strive to ensure that our respondents are not duplicated as much as possible. But, speaking about the respondents in general, yes, we strive for each person to be comfortable communicating with us so that he does not feel like being interrogated. Obviously, not everyone can directly tell that something is going wrong. For example, if we talk about our research in the B2B sector, then in pre-pandemic times, when all research was carried out in the office, one session with a user could go up to 3 hours, of course, with a break. And our researcher Diana Kanivets, who is engaged in corporate research, suggested collecting feedback from respondents after they completed the survey.
Remote work has removed many barriers to interviewing, presented new recruiting opportunities, and saved time.
It was necessary to analyze and work out such organizational issues as the complexity of the test tasks, the politeness of the interviewer, the duration of the study and other points that the respondent could pay attention to. We started collecting feedback with your help, and immediately realized that it was a great tool, and implemented it in all our research - both in B2B and B2C. Analyzing this information helps us to understand where we can improve. You can always get a little bit better. How such data is being collected? - After participating in the study, the recruiter from the ADS Agency contacts the respondent and asks to describe in several sentences how the interview went. At Kaspersky Lab, the attitude towards respondents is sensitive, and 99% of survey respondents leave us satisfied, leaving positive feedback. But even among them there is something to work with, and there are prospects for quality growth in both the B2B and B2C sectors. How do you use feedback from respondents in the future? - There is no single algorithm here, each review is processed individually. Anything can affect the quality of research. A small example: a person gives a positive review, praises the manager, thanks for the tea and coffee, and suddenly adds that he was not fed. At first, I want to smile and move on to the next review, but if you think about it, then there is something to work on. If a person was driving to us from work and did not have time to eat, then the feeling of hunger will prevent him from relaxing and concentrating on research. Feeling hungry causes stress and decreases the motivation for mental activity. If the respondent during the research only thinks about how to finish here as soon as possible and go to eat, how relevant information on the product will we get? So now, even for short sessions, we offer respondents not only tea/coffee, but also snacks. This is about research in the office. One of the burning questions I want to ask is the impact of the pandemic on research. What difficulties did the company have when switching to remote mode? - As an IT company, I think it is easier and faster for us to switch to telecommuting than for others. We had both resources and made solutions. At the very beginning, there were difficulties, rather, of a psychological nature - we did not really understand how we would now establish contact with people, we were clamped down, including the cameras. Now, after a year, I see great progress in working in this format. The use of online communications has become ubiquitous, people do not hesitate to communicate through the screen, and this helps us in our work. What services do you use to conduct research? - We use two programs depending on the type of research. These are Microsoft Teams and Zoom. The first one has been used by us for a long time as a corporate messenger. Teams are good for interviewing, easy to use, no installation required, just follow the link. To organize more complex mobile and multi-device tests, where the respondent needs to show the screen of a smartphone or a smartphone and a computer at the same time, we use the Zoom platform. It is also quite easy to use for the respondents. How to conduct remote research as comfortably as possible for both parties? - The very first and most important thing is to check the connection before the interview. It is necessary to check the quality of the Internet with the respondent in order to avoid interruptions during the interview. The next point is punctuality. The moderator needs to be in the virtual room on time, or even better in advance. The respondent can connect to the conference 5 minutes before the start, and he needs to be met by someone there. Further, in order for a person to know what to be ready for, it is necessary to stipulate the structure and duration of the interview. It is also important to introduce the respondent to all the participants in the meeting, to inform that they can take part in the conversation. Being informed helps to create the necessary trust field, avoid unpleasant surprises, and tune in. Is it possible to say that there is a plus in conducting research remotely? - A huge plus! Now I am perplexed: why did we not think about it before? Remote work has removed many barriers to interviewing, presented new recruiting opportunities and saved time. Before the pandemic, our respondents were mainly residents of Moscow and the Moscow region. Now for us there are no geographic boundaries, we began to attract respondents from different regions of the country to participate in the research, we have outlined the foreign scope of work. In order to personally communicate with foreign users, we are pumping English, developing recruiting channels. I will make a reservation that we have always conducted and continue to conduct foreign research. Here we are talking about independent communication with foreign respondents, and not with the help of agencies. What is the most bizarre research situation you can remember? - Once we conducted a remote interview with a girl who was at that moment at work. And suddenly, in the middle of the interview, her boss comes into the office and, realizing that she is not doing work, starts shouting at her! We waited a bit and quietly left. What else could we do? Thank you for the experience you shared. I wish you success! * * *
Ekaterina Loginova, Head of the International User Research at Kaspersky Lab, speaking with Ilona Metodieva, Head of the First Agency for Recruiting Respondents ADS, ADS Laureate of the Guild of Marketers. For New Retail