SaaS Enterprise
Customer Research

New Relic Logo






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 Plan

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.

Research Process
Getting everyone on the same page
Research Process
Goals, questions and process

Finding Participants

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:

  • Upgrade-recently switched to a paid account or just signed up
  • Authority-able to influence a purchase
  • Intent-interested in buying the product
Interview Process
Finding good participants (I scheduled interviews too)

Customer Interviews

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.

Research Process
Conversation with a customer (identity concealed)


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.

Buyer Persona
Buying triggers and journey map
Buyer Persona
Putting research into action with ideas to implement

Next: Dashboard User Experience
for IT Directors »