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Uniqa conducts five times more customer research using Dovetail

Vienna, Austria
Company size

Dovetail helps the Digitalisation & Innovation department drive process forward at Uniqa, one of Europe’s largest insurance providers.

Uniqa Insurance Group is a European insurance provider operating in 18 countries, with the largest market share in Austria, where the company was born, and where the group level administration is based.

Uniqa strives to reach beyond insurance products and facilitate “feelings of joy” in their customers’ lives. This is reflected in their brand mission of “Sicher, besser, länger leben” or “Safer, better, longer life”. To continue this vision, their strategic goal is to branch out and become a service provider in the coming years.

In 2017, Uniqa Group established the Digitalisation & Innovation department, and within it Team Digital. Although Team Digital exists at the Group level, separate from Uniqa Austria, the three feature teams that form the bulk of it are responsible for the development of almost all of the digital channels for the Austrian market.

You’ll find Team CX (Customer Experience) within Team Digital. This team is comprised of front-end developers, designers, and one user researchers, Sonja Bobrowska. While Sonja is the only user researcher on the team, she’s proud of the fact that it “an insurance company in Austria has a full-time customer experience researcher on staff.”


Team CX works in close collaboration with product owners in each feature team within Team Digital, as well as with other departments at Uniqa Austria. The team practice an agile way of working, while the rest of the company follows a more waterfall-like approach, which naturally creates a big challenge.

While an appreciation of user research has been growing in other departments, in practice, it is difficult to expect product owners across the organization to know exactly when and how development work might benefit from a user research study that can support them with the necessary data to make a decision.

Although customer-centricity is well-recognised as an idea within the company, there is still resistance towards finding out how we really treat our customers.

To try and solve this, Sonja and Team CX have significantly increased the pace at which they conduct usability tests. This has been fairly straightforward to accomplish because the capabilities to be tested limit the scope of the study clearly. On the other hand, Uniqa sells dozens of insurance products so the plethora of customer situations and internal processes the team could investigate is vast, and scoping ethnographic studies is a challenge.

In 2017, between March and December, we conducted three qualitative studies. In 2018 this number has risen to 16, which represents a 5-fold increase over the previous year.

In addition to building awareness of user research and running many more usability tests than before, Sonja and her team also have a big challenge recruiting participants for insurance-related studies. Sonja explains:

“Insurance is a topic that occupies people rarely and then, at critical or negative moments. Until now, we conducted recruiting in an internal panel we’d built by inviting Uniqa newsletter subscribers. This reduced the pool of participants who were long-term (and therefore, older) Uniqa customers, or even fans.”

“We’d taken this way to make sure that we abide by the recently introduced GDPR rules. Now that our legal departments gained a clearer understanding of the laws, we received permission to conduct intercept recruiting, for example, right after a customer submitted a claim submission form online.”

We will phase out the panel and instead rely on recruiting through external agencies with large panels, and by intercepting our own customers directly at the moments of truth.

Lastly, Team Digital operates in a bilingual German-English environment which introduces problems when sharing research insights with all stakeholders. Often, reports must be duplicated to accommodate non-native speakers

How Dovetail helps

Sonja and her team use Dovetail as a storage, analysis and synthesis tool for qualitative user research data. The data originates from two sources – ethnographic interviews and usability tests, where a colleague will write non-verbatim transcriptions in notes.

In case of usability tests, Team CX record sessions in Lookback where note-takers add comments to specific sections to highlight usability issues (Sonja also sometimes makes short video highlights in Lookback). These comments are then copied to Dovetail as notes. Sonja explains:

“In both cases, I first read all notes in Dovetail to get a feeling for patterns. Then, I start tagging highlights with simple keywords such as parts of the process or interface. This is usually an iterative step whereby I often adjust the tags to better reflect and capture the differences in meaning. While I’m about to finish tagging notes I also start reflecting on the insights we can gain from the data.”

Most of the time, Sonja will send out the summary to designers and product owners as an email, with links to source material. She also creates presentations for management and for non-design, non-technical stakeholders.

Dovetail has dramatically improved the way we store, analyse and synthesise qualitative research data.

For Sonja and Team CX, Dovetail has replaced the ineffective way of storing “spreadsheets upon spreadsheets in folders upon folders” on a common team drive. Sonja finds tagging textual data more intuitive in Dovetail than breaking data down into columns or cells in a spreadsheet. “That is also why we looked for a different tool to Airtable, which we tried before Dovetail.”

Scanning tags and building insights out of tagged data is much more seamless in Dovetail. It also makes them accessible at any time from anywhere, unlike photos of post-its, for example.

While Dovetail is primarily used by Sonja, their team manager uses Dovetail to get a quantifiable overview of the projects they have completed. Designers and product owners will also log in to Dovetail unprompted to find answers for specific questions.

At the moment, email and slides are still the way Sonja needs to communicate research insights because they are the most widespread and accessible communication methods at the company, however, with all the features that are planned on the roadmap, she thinks that Dovetail will be able to eventually replace them and become the one source for qualitative customer insights at Uniqa.

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