As you conduct Stakeholder Interviews in the organization and highlight past success in Research Evangelization, you gain more opportunity to partner with the people who are consistently in contact with users. Use these opportunities to build relationships with front line staff for increased access to users and mutually beneficial partnership.
Some users, and high profile customers, are difficult to access. We can find proxy knowledge from teams who interact with them directly, but the user/customer relationship itself can be tightly guarded.
Initially, these teams may not see the benefit of collaboration with research. The trade-off here is potential value to you at the cost of upsetting an important customer or damaging a high profile relationship. Research is often a tool that can strengthen these relationships, but the teams may not understand until they’ve seen how it works in practice.
Consider all of the teams in the organization with direct access to customers. These teams are incentivized differently, and so take a different lens to user insight, but their knowledge is deep and often directly applicable. Look outside standard full-time employee or HQ circles. Sales teams have crucial insights on customer needs and landscape. Support teams understand users’ mindset and problems more closely than you ever will (it is their job!). Consulting or professional services teams are actively supporting users’ workflows.
Therefore, identify teams with untapped access and insight to your user base. Speak with them to learn about their needs and incentives—work first to build a relationship as curious-and-interested allies. Frame new projects or studies with questions that will provide insight useful to your efforts, and support your partner team’s efforts.
Over time you will increase the strength of your relationships and gain more flexible access to customers, and find new ways to support your partner teams in research activities. In critical moments, leverage high-stakes projects or ask high-seniority partners to request access to customers and find a path for initiating contact.
These collaborations open the door to the contacts you need for Participant Recruiting & Coordination from hard to access groups of users. You can capitalize on these opportunities and grow mutually useful relationships by setting up a Customer Advisory Council.