SafetyCulture is a global technology company that supports businesses to do their best work every day. Its flagship products, iAuditor, and EdApp, help organizations achieve safer and higher quality workplaces all around the world.
“Think customer: Hold the customer at the heart of everything we do. We give a s#!t,” is one of the four values SafetyCulture operates by and leaves no ambiguity when it comes to putting the customer first.
Head of Design Manoj Verghese attributes the evolution of SafetyCulture’s products to how firmly ingrained customer obsession is in their DNA. He recounts a saying that SafetyCulture’s founder Luke Anear lives by and a principle Manoj advocates for:
If you’re ever not sure about what you’re doing at work, talk to a customer, and you’ll figure it out; the answer will come, you’ll know where you have to focus.
Product Designer Jules Lipman is unwavering on the importance of leadership driving customer-centricity, “If it doesn’t come from the top, it’s very difficult to generate,” she says. “Luke lives and breathes the customer journey. He wants to hear customer stories. That’s how he makes decisions. I don’t think I’ve been at a company where the customer has had more focus than here.”
Product Managers Matt Hinds and Natasha Wolf mimic the sentiment. “For us to achieve our mission, we need to see that customers are getting value from using our tools,” according to Natasha. Matt is unequivocal; he says that everyone rallies behind the customer. They sit at the core of SafetyCulture. “We spend a lot of time talking to our customers,” he says. “It’s super important to ‘think customer’ when we’re making any decision, it’s where everything starts from, and it’s how we measure impact.”
SafetyCulture’s early research efforts were “scrappy and nice,” according to Manoj, who’s been at SafetyCulture for close to six years. They used several tools, including Confluence, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, and they had a Slack channel for incoming Intercom messages. Finding relevant information was done using Command-F, collating the answers, and putting it together on Confluence. “Then our researcher left, someone new came in, and it was hard to find that information,” he says. As their product and customer base changed, Manoj acknowledged that a new approach to research was necessary.
Matt and Jules, who have joined more recently, also noticed changes in the research process. Matt described having to sift through seemingly endless spreadsheets of feedback when he joined in late 2020. Jules dug deeper into the root cause, highlighting a problem around how they kept research. “It was kept on Confluence, we had different Google docs, teams were not necessarily recording their videos, and it wasn’t all being kept in the same place. It was very challenging at that point to find and re-find information about different areas,” Jules explains. “The team recognized there was a problem, so it was easy to say we’re going to start trialing Dovetail and set expectations for what we wanted from designers, PMs, and the rest of the team. It was a well-supported journey, and everyone was excited to use it as a solution.”
Manoj reflects on the adoption, “We needed a system to house our research. We tried many tools and processes, but nothing worked until Dovetail. As we grew from a team of 50 to 150, and then 150 to almost 500 in multiple regions, there was design, product, customer success (which was now becoming a proper team), support (which is becoming a bigger team), all talking to the customer,” he says. “This left us with scattered pockets of information with no alignment, and we wanted to collate it all together in one place so that there were no wasted efforts.”
Dovetail is key so that we have one place where we have the voice of the customer stored, and people can go in there and add to it or consume it.
Everyone at SafetyCulture wants to develop a deeper customer understanding, so creating a centralized source of truth was a no-brainer. Matt highlights the impact it has on product managers. “A source of truth that gets everyone on the same page quicker is an absolute game-changer for someone like a product manager whose entire role revolves around that,” he says. Natasha also feels the impact of having a research repository at SafetyCulture. “Anyone in the team can dive into your research space, access the same data you’re accessing, see the volume metrics around different kinds of requests, and view customer interviews,” she remarks. “This means they can deeply understand the problems they’re solving in a way that giving them a feature request doesn’t accomplish. Having a source of truth makes the voice of the customer accessible to everyone, and we’re all expected to keep up to date with a single, easy-to-use tool.”
Jules amplifies this sentiment, commenting on the ease of using Dovetail and getting everyone on board:
Dovetail has everything in one place, meaning you and the rest of the team only need to remember one link.
The power of a research repository lies in its accessibility. People across many different functions can connect with the customer and use that enhanced understanding to drive business decisions. Staff Quality Engineer Divya Konnur, Head of Design Manoj Verghese, and DesignOps Manager Ria Chan all see Dovetail as a centralized source of truth where they can uncover research and foster a deeper understanding of the customer.
Customer knowledge is pivotal to product development and helps answer burning questions around prioritization and validation.
Research findings are the headlights that should drive all product decision-making.
Prioritization seems to be the thorn in every product manager’s side; Natasha Wolf is no different, “I can’t see in front of me without the research shedding light on what’s coming up. They’re the headlights to how I define the direction I should be heading in.” Natasha points to the importance of strategic resource allocation as the business scales. “We need to ask the questions, Why would we build this? What’s the problem we’re solving for the customer? Are we confident that this is a solution that will get the outcomes they need for their lives to be improved?” she says. “Customer research is essential to understand who our customers are, what problems they have, and validate that our solution will solve those problems.”
Matt chats about the importance of risk and validation in a scale-up business. “When we’re taking a product to market, validation through customer research is how we can de-risk the process and ultimately validate whether it’s worth taking to market,” he says. “It’s about validating the investment that we’re going to make, which is particularly important for our stage of business.”
Jules reflects on how she was able to influence the product roadmap with research, even as she joined SafetyCulture remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. “When I joined SafetyCulture, I worked from home straight away. The engineers who had been in the team for a while had a perception of what the roadmap would look like for the product. We started doing research and uncovered that there was another route we should be following,” she explains. “We didn’t have the ability to build rapport with the team in person, given that we were remote. What helped was being able to share foundational information along with the actual one-on-ones that we did. The team could watch them, read the transcripts, and see how we’ve tagged them during remote workshops.” Jules emphasizes how significant solving customer problems is for the engineers in her team and how she was able to answer their many questions about prioritization and the customer journey by engaging them with the end-to-end research process. During this time, she says, a good deal of trust was built across the team.
The SafetyCulture team highlights how everyone uses Dovetail for various purposes and how getting the whole organization on board supercharges the platform and places the voice of the customer at the center of everything they do.
As a researcher, Jules is provided with a moment of joy when she realized other teams were self-discovering research. In particular, she recounts how SafetyCulture’s sales team engages with the product. “They’ve been going into Dovetail and finding interviews with customers they deal with and seeing some of the updated prototypes. It’s been great for our team to feel like a much bigger unit that values feedback from all inputs.” Ria also shares her experiences with other functions using Dovetail to enhance their customer understanding. “We’ve been sharing customer interviews to the sales, marketing, and success functions. It’s great that other people who aren’t in the product function can go into Dovetail and quickly find videos, interviews, or feedback that could be relevant to their customers.”
Tech Lead and Staff Software Engineer Waleed Usman and Staff Quality Engineer Divya Konnur chat about their self-service experience with research. Waleed emphasizes how Dovetail has helped him digest information from customer interviews. “I’m able to better participate in product discussions by relating to what I’ve heard from customers,” he remarks. Divya echoes this sentiment, illustrating how Dovetail provided an easier way to consume the totality of customer feedback and ask better questions during planning. “It helped us gain confidence in identifying customer problems and picking solutions,” she says.