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For a few months, I was an apartment listing junkie. I spent my evenings flipping through housing websites, desperately looking for the perfect place. My partner and I were moving back to Atlanta, GA after some time abroad and I was furiously searching for the perfect place. I had spreadsheets full of listings and would turn my phone to my partner again and again while we were sitting on the couch after work like it contained the secrets of the universe. It was my first apartment hunt in Atlanta, so I was obsessed. I wanted the perfect place—walkable location, big enough for both of us to work from home, ideally a duplex with a little yard, and most importantly, it had to be cheap. Spoiler alert: I only ended up with one of those things.
Most people have been where I was. Apartment hunting is a pain and it can be worse if you’re in what Abodo, an apartment listing company, calls a “Tier 2” city. On this episode of Awkward Silences, Erin and JH chatted with Chad Aldous, Head of Design and Co-founder at Abodo about how he talks to Abodo’s users to build the perfect apartment hunting product.
We sampled the great Sam Walton in his rural business expansion and when he took on Kmart. He called it big business ignoring big business. What he meant by that was Kmart was only in these big cities. So of course people who lived in big cities had the opportunity to go to Kmart and he wanted to provide that for other people and other cities that weren’t necessarily in these metropolitan areas. Major metropolitan areas. So that was the analog for us when we started out. And like I said before, our original market was universities and college students. And so far we’ve expanded that to the markets that those universities exist in. We are pretty prevalent in Chicago as well, but that was the genesis of the tier 2 cities. It was just overlooked markets that clearly have renters and why isn’t the technology or the software or the tools there for them.
For Abodo, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “but we are our users”, since everyone on the team has had trouble finding an apartment to rent. Chad stressed the importance of incorporating research with their users into their product shaping. It helps the team at Abodo learn more about what they’re building and who they’re building it for, without letting their own experiences take over the shaping process.
Your users can be a huge source of valuable information for your product team. In fact, our State of User Research Report revealed that 54.6% of people who do research conduct more than half of their research with their own participants. Since you already have access to your users, they can be much easier to contact for research. Your users can also help you learn about what’s missing from your current product, different use cases you may not have originally considered, and generate ideas for where your product can go next. In this post, I’ll combine some of Chad’s tips for great research with your own participants with some things we’ve learned over the years. We’ll cover how to run a research project with your own users, send research invites that get replies, and how to keep research going in your organization.
Choose your research focus
First things first, you’ll need to define why you’re doing research in the first place. Are you trying to gather ideas for a new product? Or testing the usability of a new feature? Depending on what you’re trying to learn, the scope of your research project will be different. Asking the right research question will help ensure your research is specific, actionable, and practical. It will help set the timeline of your project, what resources you’ll need, and help you choose the right methods to answer your question.
For Chad and the team at Abodo, they use research with their own users to shape new products, settle internal disputes, and test out new features. Shaping something new requires a bit of a different approach than settling an internal dispute or testing something that’s already built.
When we’re shaping the problem, we do a lot of talking to the renters. We were doing it at a cadence of three to five times a week. So, half hour interviews, three to five times a week was enough to give us enough color on the situation. But now that we’ve shaped it, it typically doesn’t really come back up until we have questions and we are stuck. “So let’s just go talk to customers and see if we can stop overthinking this.” And that’s a one off basis.
Shaping the problem is when you’ll need to spend the most face to face time with users. In this stage, you’re not sure what exactly your users are struggling with or what you’ll need to build to help them. At this point in the process, getting a good cadence going can help teams space out the time they’re spending on research, which makes making time for research a little bit more manageable. If you’re a research team of one, or if you’re juggling multiple roles, like product management + research or design + research, it can make it feel less like something you have to sacrifice other tasks for and more like a normal part of your day. Then, once you’ve shaped your problem, keeping a research habit becomes a little bit easier since you’ve already blocked off time for research.
If you’re trying to test something, or if you want to settle an internal dispute over what to do next, it’s best to do some more concentrated research. These one-off kinds of studies can take less time and require less participants to come to a conclusion. Typically, you can complete a study with just five users, since participants tend to start repeating the same patterns at around five users.
Define “your users”
Who are your users anyway? How you define “your users” will vary from business to business. At Abodo, Chad defines users as anyone who has submitted a lead form. This means they have put in their email or phone number to contact a property manager within Abodo’s system. This indicates to Abodo that they have started the apartment search process.
For us, “our users” is a little bit different. Since our business is different, we define users as people who have launched a project with User Interviews. This ensures that we’re talking to people who are familiar with our product and process.
Of course, you may have access to people who may not be “users”, but are still familiar with your product. This could include leads who haven’t yet signed up, old users who have churned, etc. These people can be just as useful to your product development cycle as bonafide “users”. Like your users, they come with the added bonus of contact information.
Narrow your focus
It’s important to zero in on the right users to interview. Chad narrows things down by combining the information in Abodo’s database with pointed screener surveys that ask questions about information that’s not in their database.
We use the date they sent the lead and the market they’re tied to. That’s really helpful for we want to know how X users in Y city are performing with this new test. So we can do some qualitative stuff with that by reaching out to them. For screening people, we need more information. In our database, we don’t have age, we don’t have “student”. So pairing those two things together is really useful. You can get the market information, the date information and how many leads they’ve sent. And then we pair that with User Interviews screening like, “Are you a student? Are you a working professional? Are you a couple? Are you in a relationship? Do you have a family?” And potential salary range and those things are really, really nice to pair together to get a clear picture of who you’re talking to.
Zeroing in on the right users to talk to helps keep your research sessions productive. If you’re trying to figure out how to create a better product for young professionals, talking to retirees isn’t going to be helpful.
Invite the right people
Since finding participants for research studies isn’t quite an exact science, it can be difficult to know how many people you need to invite to fill your study. There’s a fine line between inviting too few people and struggling to fill your study and annoying your users with constant invites.
Luckily, there are a few ways to make sure you’re respecting your users inboxes and filling your studies.
1. Start low
You can always invite more people to your study, so start by inviting a lower number than you think you’ll need. Inviting people this way also helps you find a more exact number for how many people you’ll need to invite in the future. If I’m conducting five user interviews, I usually start by inviting 25-50 people to participate. If there are enough takers within that first round, great! If not, scaling up your invites in 25-50 person increments can help you fill your study and learn more about how many people you’ll need to invite right off the bat next time. Give participants a day or two to respond to your invitation, take your screener survey, and choose a time that works for them. Then send your next round of invites. This obviously works best if you have some good lead time before your research sessions.
2. Keep track of the last time you talked
This is one of the best ways to ensure your users are plagued by constant research invitations. Storing dates that are important to their interaction with your product, the date they last participated in research, and the date they were last invited to a research project helps create a better experience for everyone. Hint hint: User Interviews does this automagically. Make sure you’re spacing out your research invitations as much as possible. This makes it feel more like an exciting opportunity to contribute to your project rather than a chore for your users.
3. Write engaging subject lines
An engaging subject line can be the difference between participants lining up for your study and your invitation being left unread. For Chad and the team at Abodo, they’ve had the best results with subject lines that mention recent activity. Something like “Based on your recent search, we’d love to hear your feedback,” usually works well for them.
We also recommend making your subject line personal and specific. Adding something as simple as their first name, job title, or field can help your research invite stand out as something just for them. Adding another humanizing factor, like an emoji or two, can also help your invite stand out 🎊.
As for the body of the email, keep it simple. Tell the participant what the study is about (without giving it all away), when the sessions are, what incentive you’re offering, and what they need to do to participate.
4. Offer fair incentives
Though many users enjoy participating in research, you need to make it worth their while with an incentive that shows you value their time. Here’s our recommendation for incentives, based on the skills you’re requiring from your participants. The good news is, when you’re doing research with your own users you can also offer in-product perks as an incentive. Some users may not respond to cold hard cash as well as something special in-product, or you may not be able to offer quite as much cash as you’d like to. You can offer different product-related incentives, like a free month of service, brand swag, special access to new features, or premium support. At User Interviews, we often offer 3 free participant credits as research incentive with our own users. P.S. If you’re a new User Interviews customer, you can grab three free credits for your first project here.
Make it happen
The next step is to make sure your research happens. This means you’re doing ongoing research to help shape new problems and products, doing one-off projects at a regular cadence, or just establishing norms around when research happens and sticking to them. Chad said this switch clicked for the team at Abodo once they started setting aside budget specifically for research. When there was money on the line, it became more urgent to do research at regular intervals and establish norms about how and when research would happen. Chad also noticed that the more research his team was doing, the more the users experience was brought up in meetings. His team started referring back to research to make their points clear and they turned to research to settle disagreements or learn more when they were stuck.
If you don’t think you can wrangle a set monthly budget for research, just putting it on the calendar is a great way to make research a part of everyone’s routine. If you want to do ongoing customer research, set aside 30 minutes to make it happen every week. If your research happens on more of a one-off basis, work that into your schedule at the cadence that works for you team. It may be a two hour block once every few weeks or a few 30 minute ones once a month.
Erin: [00:00:31] Hello everyone. And welcome back to awkward silences. We are here today with Chad Aldous. He is the head of design and co-founder at Abodo Abodo is an apartment rental marketplace. If you aren’t familiar, they are focused on renters, specifically in the rental market specifically, and Chad is focused on everything, design, everything users and specifically.
Talking to your own users as much as possible. So that’s what we’re going to talk to chat about today. Thanks for joining us.
Chad: [00:01:05] Thank you for having me happy to be here.
Erin: [00:01:08] We’ve got Jay chair too.
JH: [00:01:10] Yeah, that should be fun. Um, this is about talking to your own users and Chad is one of our users and we’re talking to him.
So there’s a real circular situation going on here should be good.
Erin: [00:01:19] So, so tablets jump into it. You are a huge proponent of talking to your own users.
Chad: [00:01:26] Why? Yeah. Yes, absolutely. Um, so the main value that we get out of talking to our own users is making sure that our products aligned with the people that use them.
I mean, that’s full stop. That’s that’s the number one reason why we talk to them.
Erin: [00:01:44] Love it succinct to the point. And what happens if you don’t do that? Or was there a time where you were doing that less or where it wasn’t so clear and obvious why you needed to be doing
Chad: [00:01:57] that? Yeah, so for our industry, it’s unique because, um, we are our customer, essentially.
We are renters ourselves and we started off, uh, having a problem with, with finding rentals and. So we can rely on our intuition for, for so long, but ultimately, you know, you need to branch out into the broader, uh, variety of people that are using products like yours. So, um, we had to start talking to people and, um, yeah, that’s where the original pain point came from.
JH: [00:02:31] Cool. Cool. And when you say your users, are you like literally people who have been on the website and app and like experienced it firsthand or. Uh, is it a little bit more loose in the sense of anybody who’s looking for an apartment you would consider a user? Like, how do you actually define your users in this?
Chad: [00:02:45] So we define our users as people that have gone to the platform and sent a lead. So, um, they’ve emailed the property manager inquiring about, uh, that place that they are listing and, um, That is what we consider a user, but we also, um, have used your guys’s platform for, um, targeting people who are renters, um, across the nation and people who aren’t actually like familiar with our product.
Sometimes we get lucky and, um, they are, but that’s not necessarily what we were going for. We just wanted to get like a wider. So, you know, a wider data set of people.
JH: [00:03:21] Yeah. Yeah, totally. And do you find that the people who have, you know, sent a lead through the platform before, like you’re able to go deeper with them or like, um, is there a certain richness of insights you get from, from the people who have that like extra context that, you know, the prospective renters maybe don’t
Chad: [00:03:39] yeah.
Yeah. I mean, it makes sense too. Cause we actually, we, um, we take the timeline into effect as well. So we, you know, We contact people that have recently sent leads. So renting is fresh on their mind. You know, we know now, like the renter timeline is typically like four to six weeks is when people are searching for a place like that’s when they conduct their search.
And so like that helps us with, um, you know, the freshness of the conversation. And we can really have pointed things for specific things we’re working on or specific, specific things that they went through a test, uh, on the platform. And, uh, it just really, really usable too. Have that frequency, um, tied into the conversation.
JH: [00:04:18] Cool. Do you, do you almost try to avoid getting them, like when it’s too fresh, like when they’re still in the process, is that stressful or is it, are they down to chat with you when they’re still maybe housing insecure, so to speak?
Chad: [00:04:31] Um, you get, you get both ends of the spectrum. Um, you definitely get the, you know, the money conscious procrastinator, uh, where there’s not a lot of inventory that matches their search and maybe they waited too long and the given market that they’re searching in.
And so there’s not a lot of inventory for them to look through, but then you also get people who have massive budgets and are. No, not in any rush to move, but are just looking at, you know, trying to find the next big kind of high rise, et cetera. So it’s, it’s across the board. It
JH: [00:05:07] feels like, I guess a continuation of that, it feels like, um, the profile is so broad.
That you probably must end up with like a ton of different, interesting segments and cases right. Of a couple that’s maybe moving in together for the first time. And they’re trying to find an apartment versus somebody who’s coming out of college and looking for their first place on their own, or, you know, somebody who’s downsizing and leaving a house and coming to a part, like, it feels like the breadth of scenarios of apartment hunters is so, so wide.
Like how do you guys navigate that and make sense of all the different use cases?
Chad: [00:05:39] Uh, that’s a good question. Yeah. You hear some horror stories when you’re talking to people. I kind of feel like we’re, sometimes we’re in therapy in our, uh, renter interview sessions, but, um, yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, the whole 80 20 rule that you want to make a product that is really, really good for your primary user.
Um, I think that that’s. Yeah, it’s that tried and true cliche has been tried and true for a reason. Uh, so, and that’s the whole point of us talking to our customers is we want to know what that breadth is so we can focus in on that 80 and make sure it’s still functional, you know, hopefully usable, um, to, to the 20% that isn’t necessarily the primary, uh, the person that we’re, you know, we’re targeting for this platform and this product, but.
Um, yeah, the, the whole idea is to, to really make it useful for a wider set, because it is, it’s a very subjective process looking for an apartment. And, uh, there’s a lot of people that are in different scenarios. Hmm.
Erin: [00:06:36] And what sort of process have you put together to talk to people across these different, you know, across all the breadth of your target users on a regular basis?
Chad: [00:06:48] Uh, so like how do we go about talking to, yeah, so, yeah, so luckily, uh, even though we’re a small team, um, I do have help in the data science department here.
Erin: [00:07:03] Tell me, tell me about small who’s on the team. Who are we talking about?
Chad: [00:07:06] Small. Okay. So I am the only designer right now. Um, and so have to be a generalist and do everything.
Um, but luckily we’re a product focused team, like a design focused team. Uh, we have five developers, um, one, uh, VP of products. One like CEO is a very product focused. Um, and, and that’s pretty much it. And the data scientists, you know, she helps out where we can with, uh, we are a data-driven team. So she helps us with questions that we have in particular.
I asked her like, Hey, can I get the. Uh, latest 1000 leads like, you know, non duplicated leads from our top 15 markets, uh, or kind of get him from Pittsburgh. And she can spit that out for me from, from our, uh, you know, from Domo and from a database tool. And, um, yeah, we just, we plugged it into user interviews and it makes it really easy for us to, uh, to contact these people and they feel like it’s trusted resource.
And it’s actually so much different from when we were really Spartan and we used Craigslist and, uh, you know, since we are in a university’s town, like we would go to, uh, we would go to the universities and, you know, sit down in the unions and the coffee shops and, you know, try to get people to talk to us for a Starbucks gift card.
And now it’s a little bit more sophisticated and, and certainly a lot more doable.
Erin: [00:08:34] Yeah. So you’re, you’re the head of design sole designer. Had user researcher. So he’s a researcher serving a team of five developers. So, uh, how do you fit this research, uh, into your, into your life? Do you have a certain number of interviews you’re trying to do, um, you know, per week or per month, or is it as you’re building new products, making sure to work that in or what kind of cadence have you found yourself in to talk to your own users?
Chad: [00:09:02] Yeah. So in the most recent case, it’s probably the most useful since it’s fresh. Um, We, we had this question on, uh, you know, user engagement and, you know, uh, the strategy was, you know, can we get comedian renters to stay on the platform longer, et cetera. And so, uh, after having like our stakeholder interview and figuring out what the goal of the business was, we sat down and we just didn’t do some user interviews.
And we talked to people about, you know, what is it about it? Um, you know, when you’re looking at apartment websites, like, what is it about it that makes it stand out to you or what makes it feel like it’s for you and asking those questions really helped us narrow it down. You know, just some different directions that we wanted to, to test off, uh, with our own users like writing AB tests.
Uh, so that was like a really good way to like dip our toe into the renter interview process. Um, so that was really helpful, but what’s also useful for us is. The ongoing, like questions that we have. Like, for example, we just had a meeting like an hour ago and we couldn’t come to a conclusion and it was a point of diminishing returns.
And so we were finally like, okay, well we have some data, like let’s pair that up with the conversations that we can have, you know, uh, you know, in the coming weeks with these renters and, and to see how those align or where they diverge. And those really help steer our conversations. So they’re not just based on, you know, unfounded opinions.
JH: [00:10:37] I feel like, uh, we’re a pretty debated bunch at user interviews and despite what we see, uh, and, um, despite what we do, right. And it’s basically work and there’s certainly times where we’ll be like making the academic argument for like, why we should do something or some other strategy. Every once in a while, does that semester hold her head and be like, you know, there’s a way we can answer this.
Like we could, we could actually go out and talk to people and get like, get some real conviction here. And, uh, so it’s cool that you guys have, uh, been able to do that and it’s happening pretty regularly
Chad: [00:11:05] for sure. You
Erin: [00:11:07] said you had some, some data you was talking about quantitative data analytics or, or something like that that you could combine with qual.
Is that what you’re referring to? Yep.
Chad: [00:11:17] Yep.
Erin: [00:11:17] I’m curious how much you can talk about or willing to, but what kind of stuff are you looking to look into?
Yeah, you said you’re in the coming weeks. You wanted to do some interviews coming up to kind of see if you can confirm what you’re seeing in the quantitative data to try to move, move in the right direction.
Chad: [00:11:40] Oh, sure. Yeah, absolutely. So the, on the quantitative side, like we’re, like I said, we’re data-driven team, we make a lot of data data-driven decisions.
Uh, and so, you know, I’m using things like GA and Domo and things like that are really helpful for, you know, getting that stat. But, um, While we have that, uh, it’s really important for us to like have particular right now we’re focusing on, uh, personalizing your search process. Um, it’s, it’s one thing to filter down by bedrooms, price, et cetera.
But, um, we want to know, or we also know that. That’s not the only decision make or decision that goes into the process when you’re making trade-offs. Right. Like, so do you care about price? Do you care about location? Do you care about, you know, amenities, uh, things like that do care about public transportation, um, having that quantitative data set and then using that when we interview our renters or even the sample that you guys give us across the United States really helps us, you know, take that.
That user story, that persona and tie it into these, you know, these users.
Erin: [00:12:53] Got it. Yeah. That’s really interesting. When you think about sites with filters. So many of just narrowing all the things down to fewer things, it sort of assumes people are completely rational minds who know exactly what they want and can, you know, kind of zero in with these, this perfect selection of filters.
And you’re talking about if I understand you, right. Sort of. Taking the intelligence behind that and bringing it to the forefront through some personalization technology. Yeah. That’s
Chad: [00:13:22] really cool. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It’s such a subjective process,
JH: [00:13:26] right? Right. Yeah. It does seem it that’s um, I’m just not going to, like, I guess, think about your problem space, but it seems so fascinating in the sense of at least thinking of my own experience or anything.
Right. It’s um, the trade-offs are so fuzzy, right? Like my budget $1,600, but. If it had a deck or it was like gorgeous, maybe I’d go to 700, 1700 or something. You know what I mean? It’s like, so if I put the filter in there and then I miss it, it’s like, that’s a bummer, but I need to narrow it down somehow.
So yeah, that’s a really interesting problem.
Chad: [00:13:53] Yeah. And that insight came up too with the price. And in particular, it’s like, after talking, you know, the whole rule of five, kind of, when you’re interviewing people, you can get like a pattern after five it’s like we had that pattern come up so many times the price it’s like, everyone’s like, yeah, I’d probably spend a hundred to $200 more.
So like we put that like user. A UX like copywriting into the product itself. It’s like $200, so yeah.
JH: [00:14:17] Yeah. Yeah. Does this have laundry in unit or not
Chad: [00:14:20] flex?
Erin: [00:14:22] Do you have a typical cadence or does it vary quite a bit from month to month, week to week in terms of how many folks you’re, you’re
Chad: [00:14:28] talking to? Yeah.
So when we’re, we’re shaping the product or shape of the problem, I should say, um, we do a lot of talking to the renters and we were doing it at a cadence of three to five times a week. Um, so, you know, half hour interviews, three times three to five times a week was, was enough to give us enough color on situation.
But now that we’ve shaved it, it typically doesn’t really come back up until, you know, like today we have questions on, um, and we were stuck, so let’s just go talk to customers and see if we can stop overthinking this. And, uh, you know, that’s like a one-off basis, but when we’re shaping the problem, that’s when we are.
Yeah, there was a two month period. There were every, every week, three to five customers a week.
JH: [00:15:17] All right. A quick awkward interruption here. It’s fun to talk about user research, but you know, what’s really fun is doing user research and we want to help you with that.
Erin: [00:15:26] We want to help you so much that we have created a special place.
It’s called user interviews.com/awkward for you to get your first three participants
JH: [00:15:36] free. We all know we should be talking to users more. So we went ahead and removed as many barriers as possible. It’s going to be easy. It’s going to be quick. You’re going to love it. So get over there and check it out.
Erin: [00:15:46] And then when you’re done with that, go on over to your favorite podcasting app and leave us a review, please.
But you did mention that it was a lot harder to get these interviews done with your own users before. And so now you’re doing them sounds like, you know, kind of depends on where you are with developing products, but sometimes three to five times a week, have you done any. Testing with your process or subject lines or anything with your kind of logistical flow to make that process easier to maintain,
Chad: [00:16:22] uh, nothing juicy on that front.
Actually, we’ve been pretty successful with, um, you know, our subjects subject line, the amount of incentive
Erin: [00:16:31] you have any recommendations for that? Cause we get questions about that all the time in terms of. Subject lines and incentives and things to, to offer, to get the best response rate.
Chad: [00:16:41] Yeah, I guess for us in particular, we pardon me?
We, we just add, since they recently used the Botto, we, you know, we talk about that in the headline and we say like, based on your recent search, um, we’d love your feedback kind of thing. Uh, and that seems to work pretty well. So. It connected that, um, the recent activity to there, or sorry, connecting the recent activity to the actual email subject is,
JH: [00:17:08] yeah, I think you mentioned this before a little bit too, but I do have to imagine that, uh, renters are pretty happy to have someone’s ear when they’re going through the process of trying to find an apartment.
I’d imagine they have a lot to vent and get off their chest in some of these sessions.
Chad: [00:17:20] Absolutely. I mean, I’ve had, I’ve had, uh, the old switcheroo on me when I’ve thought this renter I was talking to was this, you know, 21 year old, a junior from a certain university line. It’s the dad of this junior. And, uh, yeah, I don’t know whether he was shy or, or what the case may be, but, you know, he was concerned for his son.
JH: [00:17:46] um, there’s a millennial time. Um,
Chad: [00:17:52] yeah, he didn’t say one word. There was a lot, there’s a lot of like, you know, what do you think of this? And he didn’t say anything. So,
Erin: [00:17:58] yeah. Even you mentioned when you’re doing some of these interviews, uh, we, you know, we do them, are you doing these as small groups or how are you looping other folks on the team into some of this activity?
Chad: [00:18:09] Yeah. Uh, so started off with, um, Um, just me and one other, uh, developer, someone to help me take notes. And, uh, basically my whole point of doing that was to bring people into the value of, of talking to people. It’s, it’s one thing for me to have all the knowledge, but, uh, it’s really important to have that knowledge exchange in order to everyone get on board and for everyone to, to see the value and talking to customers.
So when you bring it up in a meeting like today, it’s not like, Oh, you’re just trying to kick the can. And. No, it does. This doesn’t mean anything. This is just another designer trying to tell us to talk to renters or talk to our users. But, um, it was really important, especially bringing in other shareholders.
So like I brought my, my co-founder and CEO, um, in, on the process and instantly he just, you know, he started like creating he’s an analytical person. So he started creating like air tables and. Uh, you know, cohorting these users and to all sorts of demographics and psychographics and, uh, he ran away with it.
And so it’s, it’s really important to bring other people into the process, to, to, uh, to see the light on
JH: [00:19:19] that one thing. Uh, I, I know we’ve heard that. The benefit of talking to your own users is, is you can kind of go back to them multiple times and like, you know, they have some continuity and you could show them an early version and maybe come back and show them a later version of something.
Is that been something you guys have deployed at all? Or are you kind of going to the well pretty fresh?
Chad: [00:19:37] Uh, we’re going to the weld pretty fresh every time, however, Um, we have had people indicate, uh, that they’d be more than happy to be on an ongoing basis with us. So, uh, I haven’t used the feature at all and user interviews yet, but I do know it’s available.
Um, and it’s, it’s something that we are looking forward to do because, uh, whether the conversation was fruitful, um, or they just really give us candid feedback. Uh, we want to talk to those people on an ongoing basis.
JH: [00:20:09] Yeah. Yeah. It’s one of those things. It’s tough to get the balance. Cause it gets, it is tough to get the F it’s sorry.
It’s valuable to get the fresh perspectives, but it is nice to have a couple of power users that you can lean on in our case, a Brandy, give her a shout out and yeah. Yes. For a lot of stuff.
Chad: [00:20:23] Good listening. I know Brandy from the, uh, the Slack
JH: [00:20:26] channel. Yes. Yes. That’s great. Yeah. So like, you know, it’s, it’s one of those things that, um, it’s I was just curious, cause I think it’s, it’s.
It comes into the, it comes into play when you’re talking about your own users. Right. Because there is a relationship and there is an ongoing newness to it. And so, um, you can operate a little differently than, you know, when you’re just trying to find new people well, every single time. So
Chad: [00:20:45] exactly. Yeah.
JH: [00:20:47] When you are pulling the list, um, you know, from your database and grabbing people, are you pulling like additional contextual data? That’s helpful, like what market they’re in and the data contact or, you know, whatever it may be, um, or are you screening them to solicit some of that information? Like. Is it important for you to have some of those like other contextual data points or just, you know, I know this person did this action recently and that’s good enough.
And I’m just going to go see if they’ll talk to me.
Chad: [00:21:12] Yeah. So we definitely use the date in which they sent the lead. Um, and then we also in our database can provide the market that, which they’re tied to. And that’s really helpful for, um, you know, we want to know how X Caesar’s and X city are performing with this new test.
So. Um, we can do some qualitative stuff like that by reaching out to them. Um, and then, uh, it’s just really easily for that. But for screening people, we can’t in that database, we don’t have age, we don’t have student. So pairing those two things together is really useful. And, you know, you can get the certain market information, the date information, and how many leads they have sent.
Uh, and then we pair that with user interviews, screening of like, . Um, are you a student, are you working professional? Are you a couple, or are you in a relationship? Um, do you have a family, uh, and like potential salary range and those things are really, really nice to pair together to get a, uh, a clear picture of who you’re talking to.
JH: [00:22:15] Gotcha. Gotcha. And is that kind of, just to make sure you have some balance and a mix, or are some cases like some of those things are actually like disqualifying, like somebody in this income bracket is actually not a good fit for what we’re looking into right now.
Chad: [00:22:27] Yeah. Uh, although we do love our feedback from our retiree community.
JH: [00:22:32] In that example, sorry,
Chad: [00:22:36] you have an ongoing, like, um, NPS score essentially. And we get a lot of feedback from our retiree users. Um, And, uh, so sometimes it’s useful for us to talk to them in particular markets, but our primary inventory focuses on, uh, young professionals working professionals and in tier two cities. And so we want to make sure that the feedback we’re getting, if it is applicable, um, is from those particular users.
Erin: [00:23:04] that, is that a term I’m allowed to use? Tier two? I say that all the time, just like,
Chad: [00:23:09] uh, and maybe I’m just blind to it.
Erin: [00:23:11] Now I’m going to stick with it. You’re talking about not, not in New York, Chicago, LA like your Nashville’s.
Chad: [00:23:18] Yes. Yeah. So Apple is Milwaukee, uh,
Erin: [00:23:22] Madison, Madison.
Chad: [00:23:24] Beautiful town. 200. Yeah.
We love it here too. About a couple of minutes of summertime. The rest is we’re hibernating, but no, it’s lovely here, but, um, yeah, that’s, that’s when we met here,
Erin: [00:23:37] I grew up in a tier tier four city. Not sure
Chad: [00:23:42] mine’s not even out of tier. Let’s see the city I grew up with. Does he make it here? So.
JH: [00:23:47] Is the, the, is the tier two city focus, um, is that like partially a function of, um, renters have a little bit more like leverage and rights in some of those markets then maybe like, you know, a place like San Francisco or something where the rental market is just crazy and the landlords can do whatever they want or is it just how, or for a different reason, I’m just genuinely curious.
Chad: [00:24:11] Yeah, not to get too much into our, our first, first leg demo pitch that we had. But, um, we, we sampled the great Sam Walton and his, uh, you know, rural business expansion. And, you know, we took on Kmart. He noticed that, you know, he called it big business, ignoring big business. And what he meant by that was Kmart was only in these big cities.
So of course, people who lived in big cities had the. Opportunity to go to Kmart. And he wanted to provide that for other people and other cities that necessarily weren’t in these metropolitan areas, major metropolitan areas. So that’s, that was the, the analog for us when we started out. Um, and like I said before, our beachhead was universities and college students.
And so far we’ve expand that to the markets that those universities exist in. And otherwise we are, um, Pretty prevalent in Chicago as well. But, um, that was the main, uh, that was the Genesis of the tier two cities was just overlooked markets that clearly have renters. And why isn’t the technology of the software or the, um, you know, the tools there for them.
JH: [00:25:21] Nice. That’s really clever. I like that.
Erin: [00:25:27] Yeah. I’d never heard that ingesting Walmart. Sure. There are books, many books on Walmart and I him. Oh yeah. We always like to ask, uh, you know, what do you love most about user research?
Chad: [00:25:40] Uh, I love the outcomes that come from it. Um, my favorite things. So far our, when people start talking about, maybe it’s not personas exactly or a persona in particular, but when somebody from my team starts talking like our renters, or like, they bring up like, Oh, Hey, remember that one renter who really, really put a lot of emphasis on square footage because she has two kids and she really needed to be close to a public transportation.
Like. That like those kind of aha moments when they come up in conversation is I think it has to be the, my favorite thing about it.
Erin: [00:26:28] Thanks for listening to awkward silences brought to you by user
Chad: [00:26:31] interviews,
JH: [00:26:33] theme music by fragile gang
Erin: [00:26:36] editing and sound production by Carrie Boyd.
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