New Relic started talking to enterprise customers via a new site category entitled “Enterprise”. But the typical approach of user = customer doesn't account for how people buy and use the product (if at all). I needed to validate assumptions about buyers, and define them, to develop a targeted design strategy.
Research must align with business objectives otherwise it's a waste of time. That means understanding the desired outcome and selecting the appropriate process. Before diving into the project, I reviewed a set of provisional customer personas and interviewed project stakeholders. This naturally translated into a focused research plan that guided the rest of my work.
I suggested interviewing customers in the midst of product evaluation so I could get the “why” behind their decision to use application performance monitoring. To find these customers, I worked with the client team to develop a recruitment screener that we sent to new accounts. Interviewing everyone wasn't an option (and not very effective) so potential participants had to meet our criteria:
During each conversation, customers told me why application performance monitoring wasn't working (a crucial point in the buying journey). I had the context — I now knew why they signed up — so I dug deeper to understand the problem they were trying to solve. In other words, understanding their goals. The theory: know where people are going and meet them there with the right information.
I presented my findings to marketing executives to a) verify their assumptions and b) introduce new customer behaviors via buyer personas. Personas are typically used as a target to aim for during product development. Buyer personas, similarly, inform marketing and sales strategy by encapsulating how buyers think and what triggers them to research a product. These archetypes were referenced by the team when we brainstormed new content/features for the online platform.