When the best data collection resources are leveraged, UX design can be the ultimate game-changer. Two UX designers who are making an impact and accelerating the speed of business are Bianca Gorini and Caroline Overgoor of Sendcloud, a European based e-commerce shipping solution.
We had the opportunity to chat with Bianca and Caroline about the challenges they faced in UX design and the approach to overcoming them. In our discussion, Caroline and Bianca revealed the myriad reasons why having one highly efficient data repository solution is so vital to the research success of any business in terms of streamlining processes, creating more meaningful input, and empowering all stakeholders to access the information they need precisely when they need it.
Sofia: Could you tell me about what you do at Sendcloud and what Sendcloud is?
Bianca: Sendcloud is an e-commerce shipping solution provider that helps streamline and automate the shipping and delivery experience for more than 15,000 shops in Europe. We are active in seven countries, making sure that the shipping goes through successfully. Shipping is automated, but we do have a consumer-facing solution that helps merchants provide exceptional customer experiences, such as a return solution or a track and trace solution that's fully branded. That way, we help the merchants fight the giants like Amazon and others.
Caroline: We are the two UX designers who are part of the development team based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. From there, we take care of the rest of Europe.
Bianca: We have almost 140 people in the company with plans to double that amount in the next year.
Sofia: Can you tell me a little bit about your product team, the structure, and how research plays its part?
Bianca: We're the primary source of research for Sendcloud’s product team. We have three scrum teams that take care of different parts of the solution. One that's dedicated to the merchant side, making sure the carriers and the shipping solution actually goes smoothly. Another for the larger components, making sure the shipping process and workflow is streamlined and always improving. And, one for consumers, taking care of the consumer-facing elements.
Caroline and I conduct the research, visiting and talking with our users, and pooling external, anonymous consumer research. Of course, we have help with expansion from the product manager and product owners. We're currently trying to involve other departments a little bit more in the research, which is not yet wholly streamlined. But we hope to bring the company to a more research-based development soon.
Caroline: For us, it's important to continually communicate with other departments and help them gather feedback. We are trying to inspire other departments, such as customer success, to gather feedback and answer key questions, and then we can use those answers as feedback to further develop our product.
Sofia: What was the state of company processes that prompted your decision to find a tool that would better centralize data?
Caroline: When we gathered feedback and visited customers, we noticed most of the input came through emails, and especially internally through our Slack. Comments either came to us directly or went to the product owner who shared them with us. It was a very complex structure and most feedback got lost. We were setting up a lot of quantitative data, but we're also big believers in qualitative data, which becomes useless if it's lost in Slack.
Bianca: Departments had a lot to say but felt like they didn't know where to go. So they would come to us directly. But it's just the two of us dealing with a large workload. Gathering feedback directly and figuring out how to store it become really difficult.
So, we looked for something we could use to create a feedback repository that we could tag and use to touch a specific part of the product. That helps us prioritize, but it also serves as valuable insight on how the product should behave. We always mix this with quantitative data from our analytics tools, because as we know in research, quantitative and qualitative cannot be separated.
Caroline: It's very unsustainable for us, but for other people, it's tough to put things in perspective if there's no qualitative data. EnjoyHQ has been very helpful for other people within Sendcloud besides UX designers to type in project keywords, gather feedback, and look at different angles.
Bianca: We currently gather feedback internally, through email or a feedback channel in Slack. But since using EnjoyHQ, we're receiving more internal insights that are actually more structured and complete than feedback sent via email or Slack channel. People here feel like they can talk to us and provide information, and thus, feel more strongly that they're directly participating in the development of the product that they sell or deal with every day.
Caroline: And they can say to the customer, "If you provide feedback, we will definitely do something with it because it's stored in the right place and viewed by people who are really developing the product." So it really lowers the threshold for our colleagues to ask the user for feedback. And, because it's a loop when we do something with the input, people ask more for feedback.
Bianca: In many companies, I think the development team is always seen as this remote or inaccessible entity. EnjoyHQ removes that inaccessibility and really puts us in contact with the rest of the company in a meaningful way.
Sofia: So, if you're going to work on a feature or any study, how do you go about it using EnjoyHQ?
Bianca: It may be useful to know we use EnjoyHQ chiefly as a repository, so it's really a point of the data gathering. We look at what we can find within the EnjoyHQ data structure. Then, we auto-tag information based on specific features and use merchant feedback to prioritize the information. We also visit customers to help us validate the information we collect, and we store the visit's outcome in EnjoyHQ.
Caroline: It really fits the Agile process we use, and we include things like NPS survey results too that go directly into the EnjoyHQ repository. So we have several streams of data coming in constantly.
Bianca: We don't have the time or budget to continually ask for feedback. So EnjoyHQ has been a great way to use the information we already have from other channels.
Caroline: Now, product owners can look into the projects, see all the comments, and receive continuous project feedback. We don't have to ask on demand what the users want, because now we have a whole repository of valuable information.
Sofia: What’s your advice for anyone now in the situation you were in before using EnjoyHQ?
Bianca: Well, if you’re in a small team doing research, quick data storage and access are fundamental because data, qualitative especially, are fundamental to making sure priorities are correct, and that other people in the company understand the reasoning behind the priorities.
An excellent data repository, especially for qualitative data, is necessary to prove the priority setting logic for the rest of the company.
Also, I'd advise that any data gathering process has to be low in threshold. Anybody should be able to access it because your UX team may be too small to constantly address all information requests that come in from all parts of the company. The process has to be very streamlined, so if you have something like EnjoyHQ that actually communicates with different integrations, it's much easier to build on top of your current data structure.
Caroline: Because we are a small team amidst larger teams, it's tough to stay confident. If you can show the number of people who have comments about a specific project, it's easier to speak with confidence because the evidence is there. Also, as a small team, you cannot do everything yourself. With EnjoyHQ, the whole company can help you out.
Bianca: Yes, You're able to delegate a lot.
Sofia: Do you think that having a kind of research system could be a vehicle for career progression as a solo researcher?
Bianca: I don't know career path-wise. But for credibility? For sure. Internally? For sure. Since streamlining our processes and creating this repository with EnjoyHQ, we now find ourselves attending customer meetings because we are looked at as the experts on the product.
Sofia: Anything you would like to share about your experience so far that you think would be helpful for people?
Bianca: I'd say don't be scared to start using new software, for example, EnjoyHQ, because it fills up with data very quickly. Someone may resist changing the way they work because they fear they will lose everything they have. That's actually not true. EnjoyHQ can bring in all your historical data very easily and that’s something you can’t do with other tools.