BJSS engaged both internal and external users through a combination of Customer Surveys, Interviews and Collaborative Workshops to get a clear view of customer & stakeholder needs. BJSS proposed a new UX strategy that clarified the user personas, detailed a series of ‘ideal’ customer journeys, and offered UX best practice recommendations that synthesized both business and customer goals.
The disengaged stakeholder community were brought back onside via the use of engaging workshop and collaboration techniques. The client now had an accurate and shared view of the user community and their needs that will guide future functional change. For the first time, the portal roadmap was driven based on actual customer insight rather than speculation, allowing more efficient use of the available funds.
Co-Creation Workshops built shared understanding. Requirements were visualised using a story map organised by individual user goals, and a release strategy was formulated by grouping common tasks into functional slices that were prioritised by business value.
The approach gave the team a common understanding of the project goals. It also provided context for each task, allowing for the easy prioritisation of tasks so that business value was delivered while technical risk was mitigated.
Well a similar approach is needed to get your users more engaged. The benefits in doing so are equally attractive. Product delivery success, user trust, and user loyalty go up. Product defects, user complaints, and user dissatisfaction go down.
So if the benefits are so clear then why isn’t your company finding ways to improve user engagement? Turns out, there are barriers on both sides of the fence that need to be addressed.
’That’s not what we do around here’
It can be difficult to get past an organisational culture that doesn’t encourage open collaboration and a free exchange of ideas. Paying mere lip-service towards getting your users more involved is hurting your organisation.
’We’re just too busy’
Taking people off important immediate tasks to help out on something with a faint hope of some real benefit, is a difficult pill to swallow. However, it should be considered an investment in the future.
’I’m just not interested, it sounds boring’
Being creative in new and different ways can be fun. At the same time it generates better solutions.
’Management won’t listen to what I have to say’
Ideas can come from anyone. We all have a unique perspective to convey. Both users and management need to realise that these perspectives contain hidden value. Plus this shared listening builds trust on both sides.
Break down the Barriers
Traditional methods of product and user research such as personas, user surveys, focus group interviews, etc, can sometimes be seen as a little dry and only go so far in bringing the organisation and their customers/users together. Sometimes something more dynamic is also required. This is where Co-Creation Workshops work well.
Co-Creation Workshops (sometimes referred to as participatory workshops) are often the ideal way to overcome organisational apathy and a reluctance to engage directly with customer/users. It is an alternative, collaborative research approach that brings UX teams and their clients closer to their future users by increasing the user’s direct involvement; teams literally design concepts in collaboration with their end-users.
Although not new (similar methods have been around since the 1970’s) co-creation is still under used. Probably because it requires both organizations and designers to relinquish the reins a bit and acknowledge that alternative viewpoints, expertise and creative input can come from the man (or woman) on the street.
They work because they take participants out of their normal workplace and into a creative space. They use collaborative, fun activities to uncover deep truths about what they think. Importantly, they explore three perspectives (what people do, what they say, and what they make) simultaneously, generating understanding and establishing empathy with the end user.
There are many ways to run a co-creation workshop and but there are some common themes that should run through them all:
Choose carefully: Some activities could benefit from additional participants outside the target audience or client organization.
Use a creative space: Always try to run workshops in interesting and inspiring spaces. Take people out of their normal workspace and away from their colleagues.
Keep to timings: Keep each activity short and sweet – it helps to focus the mind, etc
Listen: Ensure everyone knows their contribution is valued. Make them feel empowered and you’d be surprised what insights you can uncover.
Capture everything: You’ll only really know what to discard once you’ve properly analysed it.
Take breaks, provide sweets: workshops should never give the impression of being all work and no play.
Have fun: Last but not least, make a game out of your serious research activity. Essential to break down people’s inhibitions and gets those creative juices flowing.