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Unpacking the power & pitfalls of customer research with Leisa Reichelt & Christian Stovall

Hello there! 

Over the years, the word agile has accumulated a lot of baggage. However, at its core, agile is satisfying and solving problems for your customers. The ability to turn customer research into actionable insights is a competitive advantage for every business. 

I had the opportunity to unpack the power of research & insights with Leisa Reichelt, Head of Research and Insights at Atlassian, and Christian Stovall, Director of Customer and User Experience Research at ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. In our 45 minutes together, we dug into what customer experience and research looks like at Atlassian & ALSAC/St. Jude. Leisa & Christian also shared best practices and pitfalls to avoid when it comes to customer research and insights.

No matter your role, there are so many great nuggets from this conversation that you can apply to your work or at your organization.

Read on for key takeaways, watch the entire discussion, and stay tuned for more conversations with industry experts on all things agile.


Key takeaways

  • Agile = opportunity to bring a human-centered narrative practice to product development: Embrace agile as an opportunity to work cross-functionally and avoid throwing work over the fence from one discipline to another.

  • Bring people along on the journey and get them close to the research. Leverage agile to build an iterative cycle to get work in front of customers frequently and take that learning back to improve the product. 

  • Ensure that your research is primarily about learning and helping your teams understand so you can feel more confident in the decisions you're making.

  • Constantly ask why!:  Learning sets you up nicely for making good decisions moving forward, so take time to ask yourself, "Is this going to help us understand why?"

  • Cognitive biases can trip you up in your research. We tend to look for things that confirm what we're looking for so, anyone doing any research should get familiar with how cognitive biases can affect your judgment.

  • Participant quality is critical: Getting people in the study and accessing them is the most challenging thing, and it can be the single greatest barrier to scaling research work.

  • Move slow to go fast & raise the quality bar. While low-cost, high-speed usability testing might seem like a good option, it's doubtful that your team will be able to speak clearly about the findings from those 600 usability tests. By paying closer attention to less than half a dozen people, you will get the answer to the why, and you will take the learning as a team and be more confident in making decisions. 

  • There are risks in relying on single numbers to determine the health of your relationship with your customer: There can often be an over-reliance on a metric like NPS. Ensure that you have a robust set of customer experience metrics that provide solid insight into the quality of experiences for your customers.

  • Demand the same level of rigor for customer experience work as you do for financial accounting: From staffing to processes and tools, it is a priority to be reliable, rigorous, and have an excellent research competency foundation.


Research reading recommendations: 


There were so many great takeaways; we’d love to hear what resonated with you!

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