"The whole team really enjoyed the workshop and we’re all blown away by how well the format worked."Steven O’Callaghan,
Senior Product Owner, Bought by Many
People working in different areas and levels of your business probably have different views about how it will succeed. Maybe they even have different objectives. It can lead to paralysis.
One way to get things moving is to sit in a (virtual) room and argue until the highest-paid person gets their way. But it's a risky approach without evidence, and those unresolved differences are sure to derail even the best-laid plans.
We ran a remote lab for Bought by Many: a one-day workshop that brought together people from marketing, product, claims, customer experience, delivery and management to view moderated user research. Instead of causing an argument, it provided a forum for open, constructive discussion – an environment in which people felt safe to challenge each other’s views. It reminded everyone of the value of user research.
And in a single day, it led to a change of plan that everyone could get behind.
Bought by Many were one of the bright young things who appeared in our 2018 InsurTech Matrix. They have a classic origin story: they began as a community platform, which helped them learn about frustrations that customers have with the insurance industry in general and the unmet needs of people looking for pet or travel insurance.
They’ve since narrowed their focus to pet insurance and established a reputation for great service. A friend described them as being “what insurance should be like” and he’s not alone in that view: thousands of pet owners voted them the Most Trusted Pet Insurance Provider at the 2019 Moneywise Customer Service Awards. Their excellent Feefo ratings tell a similar story.
Still, it would be easy for a successful startup to take a wrong turn or lose focus in the quest for scale. A classic risk is holding on to assumptions and losing touch with what your customers really need, want and value.
The problem we needed to solve
Bought by Many had lots of ideas about how to grow their market share. High on their list was improving their traction with dog breeders – who are both customers and influential with pet owners.
They had a strategy, but not everyone felt confident about whether it would work. So their Senior Product Owner, Steven O’Callaghan, asked us to lead some user research. He wanted to check that they were heading in the right direction, and if they weren't, to learn where to set course instead.
He wanted to make it a shared experience because he knew that their plan would be more successful if everyone – from senior management through to delivery teams – shared the same understanding about how to best serve breeders.
Steven also knew that the experience would refresh his colleagues’ appetite for user research, and help to sustain the customer-centred culture that had made them successful.
How it went
Bought by Many’s strategy for engaging with dog breeders was based on a reasonable assumption: that they are businesses that are motivated by profit and would respond well to financial incentives.
But after we watched breeders talk – often emotionally – about their jobs and their motivations, it was clear that to everyone that their biggest concern was the ongoing welfare of the puppies.
I’m very very protective over who I let my new puppies go to, I’m getting upset now, but you do get a lot of idiots.
I’m very choosy when people come [to view the puppies]. If I don’t like them, they don’t get a puppy, simple as.
Before I even invite someone to view the pups, I check them out, make sure I like the look of them, make sure they can offer the pup a good life.
Changing long-held beliefs can be tough. But some magical things happen when you watch customers first-hand and hear their stories: you empathise with them; you begin to understand why your ideas may be wrong (challenging pre-existing assumptions); it galvanises teams to work together to solve the problems observed; it generates real stories that people in the organisation start sharing. Steve’s colleagues were open to what they were hearing. In just a few hours they shifted both their mindsets and their strategy.
It takes commitment to block out a whole day for your team, but the results for Bought by Many made it worthwhile.
Our first lab gave Steven and his colleagues both insights and structured, actionable outputs. It generated clear options and consensus about the way forward.
It was really productive – we got a clear conclusion so it was time well spent. We will definitely do it again.