Unusual Methods of Collecting Qualitative Data: How We Bring Empathy into Our Product Discoveries and Decisions | by Shehab Beram | Product @ Qawafel | November 2022

As a product manager, you aim to be data-informed in your product decisions and want user insights to inform your strategy and vision. This information can be fed by qualitative and quantitative data.

To give you some background, Qawafel is a B2B marketplace that connects suppliers to sellers of perishable food products across Saudi Arabia in the confectionery and chilled goods market.

At Qawafel, we use qualitative data and quantitative data to make better decisions and ship top-notch products. In this article, we are going to go over six different channels that we use in Qawafel and in particular the product team to gather qualitative information.

1. User Interviews — One Experience Stream and Five Retailers per Week

Qualitative research is not necessarily about connecting with people and talking with people in open dialogue, although both of these things are important. The heart of qualitative research is in fact the observation of flows of experience. It’s about closely observing what people actually do in real-life scenarios as far as you can.

At Qawafel, we release new features every two weeks. Thus, it is essential for us to stay connected with our users. At the start of each week, we choose an experience stream (eg Discover Suppliers, Find Products, Make a Payment) and select 5 users based on strict criteria. We ask them different questions about their experience going through the selected flow, and we collect data that leads us to optimize the current flow and the experience of related features in the future.

2. In-App Comments

One of the automated qualitative data channels we create is the app feedback feature. With this feature, we ask the user to choose the type of their feedback, either a feature request or a bug report, and attach any other supporting description or image. And what we do to encourage the user to complete it more often is send automated push notifications associated with selected rewards.

The feature’s adoption rate is skyrocketing. Users submitted complaints and feature requests without being questioned or questioned. Some users even use this form voluntarily to share ideas and recommendations with us without being prompted.

3. App Rating and Order Reviews

During the different stages of the user’s journey, we invite the user to review our application and, above all, to leave written comments. The comments written on the app rating act as a quick consultation channel to see what users think of our app and whether they would be potential promoters or not.

Additionally, we have found that most users are information generous in leaving feedback about our app and services in their order feedback form. Often users leave 2-3 sentences describing their ordering experience and the effectiveness of the feed they followed.

These two low-cost channels are useful when it comes to getting the user voice heard in our brainstorming and ideation workshops. We make sure to review all feedback provided before we embark on a solution design workshop.

4. Support Tickets

Support tickets are your window to what users really think. These tickets are one of the most insightful channels a product manager would use to make their product a success.

When it comes to deciding the product roadmap, most teams make decisions purely based on data rather than listening to users. They treat the roadmap as just a blueprint for releasing upcoming features, which is a big mistake.

At Qawafel, before planning our roadmap, we review support tickets and listen to issues that users are desperately trying to resolve. We try to dig deeper into them to find out what bothers our users on both a universal scale and a small scale. Analyzing support tickets helps us get a 360° view of top user issues and resolve them through our upcoming initiatives.

5. Request a product

The top pillar of any market is research and discovery. Search can be frustrating for some users when they get what they are looking for.

We have implemented two methods to solve this problem, we recommend products to users and we allow the user to submit a form requesting the product they did not find and attach additional details.

The data collected from the “Request a Product” form is particularly useful for our sales and acquisition team to acquire suppliers who sell the most requested products. We have also benefited from some of the feedback shared in this form by understanding which products are thoroughly reviewed by our users and imagining ways to have a better personalized marketplace.

6. Ask the supplier

Some users are looking for vendors to deal with through our product. Similar to “Request Product”, we expose our users to a form called “Request Vendor” when they reach the no-result step in their vendor search journey.

The information was again useful for the other teams. However, it has been helpful for our team to understand what is the ideal supplier profile that our users are looking for when it comes to supplying their stores using Qawafel.

Product managers are responsible for advocating for users internally. Qualitative research is a valuable tool for getting the big picture so you can better understand who your users are, what their goals are, and how your product fits into that big picture. Although it is not the only tool in a researcher’s toolbox, it provides insights that quantitative research cannot provide.

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