Awesome People - Ep 35

user research, GPT-3, automated content

Hi founders and fellow VC Friends!

Each week we deliver one awesome person to your inbox. These are the people you need to know — the marketers, sales gurus, engineers, ops whizzes — who give your startup superpowers 🚀. The best part is, everyone is hireable on an interim basis.

This week we’re featuring Behzod and have an extra special GPT-3 surprise.


Please meet Behzod, your Product, Design, and User Experience Researcher 🤓

Behzod was recommended by Kunal Tandon, an investor in LA (PSA: check out Kunal’s awesome bookshelf here). As soon as I met Behzod, I knew he’d be a perfect fit for our crew — he’s thoughtful, energetic, and super knowledgeable. For the past 3 years, he was the Head of Operations for Research and Analytics at Slack where he overhauled the market research initiatives and built self-service research programs across the company. Before Slack, he was at Facebook for 4 years. You can get a sense of his vibe by watching his talk at #UXRConfAnywhere, the world’s largest research conference. Fun fact about Behzod: he played ice hockey throughout junior high and high school. He might have become a star, but had to quit after a string of injuries left him with two cracked ribs.

You can hire him to: 

  • Teach your team how to conduct impactful user research

  • Facilitate better customer conversations

  • Build and grow a research team at your company

If you need a researcher to uplevel your product game, let me know and I’ll connect you with Behzod!


Behzod was gracious enough to share 3 research tips with us 🙏

Define the decision you need to make, then outline the data you need

Research is designed to help you make better decisions. Data for data’s sake is useless 😀. Here’s my thought process when scoping research projects:

D-E-D-A Framework

  • Decision - start by understanding what decision you need to make

  • Evidence - identify the necessary evidence to inform that decision

  • Data - determine the kind of data that you need to create a compelling case

  • Approach - shape your approach and methodology for improvement. 

I can’t overstate the importance of starting with the decision. This was a hard lesson to learn, but one that transformed my career. At Facebook Pages in 2014, we saw customers complain about managing their Pages in the mobile app. My product manager asked me to “understand what was wrong with the experience,” so we invited folks into the lab to go through a few core tasks. Each person successfully navigated the app.

So why did the data say otherwise? It wasn’t until a later conversation that I realized the problem wasn’t the product — it was the context! In real life, customers use the app while also running their coffee shop, hair salon, or restaurant on-the-go. In the comfort of our lab, they could successfully use the app, but that didn’t mirror their actual use case. I scoped the study incorrectly. I asked, “What’s wrong with the Pages app?” and just gathered the data. I should have asked, “How can we best support businesses in managing their page?”Once I realized this, we were able to find the appropriate data and improve their app experience.

For more deets on the D-E-D-A framework, check out this talk I gave last year.

Don’t (just) talk to churned users about churn

Are you wondering why your customers churn? Don’t solely recruit churned customers to figure it out. “Sampling on the DV (dependent variable)” hides valuable information.

Let’s imagine you have two Facebook Pages customers. Sally’s Sandwiches churned and Bob’s Burgers is an active user. It’s totally possible that Sally’s frustrations are also true for Bob, but Bob’s Burgers might have something else keeping them engaged. Knowing what keeps Bob in the app may help you retain more customers like Sally.

In this example, Sally’s Sandwiches claims Facebook Page management is too labor-intensive. Bob experiences the same friction, but sales from his weekly burger special primarily come from Facebook and represent 25% of revenue.

Identify why customers stick around by understanding different perspectives. From there comes stronger product intuition and the opportunity to recognize new use cases and consumer behaviors. 

Plan for the unknown

Things will go wrong. I’ve seen everything from Wi-Fi failures and prototype crashes, to customers showing up with colleagues, turning a 1:1 interview into a group conversation. While there’s lots that you can’t control, you can pilot interviews and surveys to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.

Prepare for interviews by piloting your questions with a colleague who’s removed from the project. Practice managing time and directing the interview. Be ready for both silent and talkative participants.

When you want more detail, empower your customer by asking for more: 

  • “Can you tell me more about that…?”

  • “I’d love to hear more about what you mean when you say…”

If they’re talking too much, use signposting to segue into the next thing: 

  • “Shifting gears…”

  • “Thank you for that. Now I’d like for us to focus on…”

You can find tips for effective customer conversations here.  

Before launching a survey, do test interviews with your target audience. Ask them the questions and see how they answer organically. They may answer with options different from your survey responses. Use their answers to improve the quality of your survey.

Want to work with Behzod? Email me and I’ll connect you!


GPT-3 Special 🤩

Last week, OpenAI released its most recent ML model, GPT-3. It’s all the rage in the nerdy corners of the internet. We got access to it and experimented with automating this newsletter. See what happened here 😂. Brace yourself…


That’s all for now! Email me if you want an intro to Behzod.

Dream team, stay safe out there. And obvi, stay awesome,  

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People and Awesome People Ventures

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