A ‘Polaris’ inspired six-step guide to help you listen to more customers through the lens of your customer-facing teams and extract valuable UX insight.

As a UX researcher, I occasionally hear the stakeholder utterance, “We need to talk to real customers…”

Aside from the fact that by ‘real’ they mean ‘people that have purchased or use their product’, sometimes this task is easier said than done.

Wouldn’t it be great to have enough time to join calls with colleagues who talk to customers everyday? Imagine regularly joining customer service, account management, support agent or new business calls everyday and hearing the pain customers and prospects are experiencing in real-time.

Well, Tomer Sharon managed it…

Tomer Sharon is the author of It’s Our Research and Validating Product Ideas, and is currently Head of User Research and Metrics at Goldman Sachs.

Before this, at WeWork he pioneered a way to collect UX insights from everyone in the company. He called these insights nuggets and consist of “Combinations of an observation… evidence… and tags” that could be positive, neutral, negative or ugly.

He called the system of collection, storage and curation: Polaris. And this helped WeWork become a better ‘listening organization’.

This article is a Polaris inspired six step guide that will help you listen to more customers through the ears of your colleagues, while also helping you democratise UX research and suit everyone up with their own UX Super-Suit (think The Incredibles but more… UXey?)

1) Decide on the tool

This could be done with any survey tool on the market (SurveyGizmo, Google forms, etc.) or even Monday.com’s form functionality. In this example I’ll use a Survey project in UserZoom.

2) Build your segments

Think about the business units you’d like to speak to on a regular basis, and create a segment with a multi-use link for each of these. (This will be easier to do in a dedicated Survey tool, rather than Google Forms or Monday.com, but it’s certainly still possible by adding an extra form input).

3) Choose your questions

Below is an example form you can create in UserZoom using your own questions! Check out an example here and add your own sample nugget: https://s.userzoom.com/m/NSBDMjhTNDI4MyAg

UserZoom nugget submission form
Monday.com example of the same Nugget submission form

4) Launch

Distribute, embed, and pin your study URL links wherever you see fit. This could be in Slack, your company CRM, or in your email signature. Just make sure it’s in a handy place when an employee has something they think is worth sharing. A little bit of up-front work here will reap major rewards down the line.

When it comes to collecting nuggets from your colleagues, tell them to click the same study link you’ve given them every time they have a new experience with a customer they want to share, essentially re-completing the form.

UserZoom’s segment section
Sharing Monday.com’s links

5) Analyse and iterate

After some analysis, you might find that after a few nuggets have been submitted you’ll need to change the study’s flow or add a question. Absolutely fine, just take the study offline, make the change and re-launch it.

6) Incentivise

But what if no-one logs any nuggets? Like talking to ‘real customers’, it might be easier said than done getting your customer-facing employees to take part and contribute nuggets on a regular basis.

These colleagues are almost definitely “too busy/stretched/etc…” and creatures of habit too (like us all) so if resistance comes in this form of ‘not enough time’ or ‘too much effort’, perhaps position contributing a nugget as a small investment that will lead to big UX improvements and time savings for them down the line.

If a fear of writing something silly or “useless” is holding them back, as you would in a moderated test, drive home that there are no right or wrong ways to submit a nugget, we want to hear anything and everything you have to share.

If the resistance comes from no incentive to submit a nugget, perhaps a monthly leaderboard and prizes for contributions could introduce some healthy competition.

Finally, submitting a nugget could be an opportunity to moan or complain about things that desperately need fixing and might be the best incentive of all.

For more information on overcoming resistance to change, check out this model below that highlights what could be holding things back. The orange box highlights the three examples I touched on above.

Wrap-up

This is a Polaris inspired method for democratising UX insight collection and isn’t an attempt to recreate the exact functionality found in Tomer Sharon’s tool or a claim that this is a substitute for it. If you have any ideas for enhancement or want to give this a try, get in contact!


For an in-depth and entertaining guide to measuring UX and proving the value of research, check out our free-to-download, 42 page guide to running both longitudinal and competitive benchmarking.

Download ‘UX Benchmarking 101’


Main image by Lucas Benjamin