Customer-Centric Audience Insights & Data Diversity
Vrbo CPO on Using Data To Be Customer-Centric (PART 3)
How do you get to know your audience and what they really want? To operate with a customer-centric approach, you can use online survey tools or do field research. For example, I like to sit down with vacation rental owners and see how they go about managing emails and booking requests.
We’ve even followed vacationers when they’ve booked, during their entire stay and upon follow up. With audience insight data in hand, I will then move quickly into rapid prototyping and iteration.
The data comes in all shapes and sizes. For instance, we create commercials which can take months to develop, and from sketch to final product, the investment is large. Still, we continue to test and learn along the way. In one commercial we released, it showed a significant dropoff point by a large number of users according to data from YouTube. At that point, we knew about the when, but not the why.
Part of our research into this included neuroscience methods using facial expressions and eye movement tracking to determine user interest and emotion. Based on this less common source of audience insight, we re-edited the commercial. It worked better in the neuroscience lab and also on YouTube.
As a product person, you’re on a constant quest to understand why, and a lot of the answers you get are based on user behavior data. From there, it’s a constant discovery process.
Design-led thinking is a great example. When looking to innovate and identify customer-centric pain points, we held a workshop centering around families and group rentals. There we learned the biggest point of stress was managing the group decision. People wonder if the place has a pool, who sleeps where, is it safe for kids, and so on.
So we built a tool called Trip Boards. Here people can leave comments and interact with each other. The other benefit is that we can use this audience insight to find new problem points and opportunities with rental properties.
Instinct Vs. Data
When looking at data and signals we all bring in a lot of unconscious biases. To address this we do peer reviews and challenge each other all the time. Don’t trust your instincts alone. You might develop some hypotheses, but get the data to back them up. In many cases, your ideas will spring from data that’s already right in front of your eyes.
Any brand can do these things. First, establish a platform mindset and framework, then product development follows.