How Microsoft Uses Recruit from User Interviews to Find Qualified Research Participants

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Paula Bach, Principle Director, UX Research Microsoft Data Cloud

Hannah Nursalim, UX Researcher at Microsoft

Microsoft Edge is a cross-platform web browser from Microsoft. In 2020, the company released a new, Chromium-built version of Edge. The UX Research team has been hard at work defining customer needs and evaluating new growth and differentiator experiences.

The problem

Paula Bach leads the Microsoft Edge Browser UX Research team, which works end-to-end across the design and development cycles. Hannah Nursalim is a user researcher on the team’s Agile research program. 

The Agile research program receives research requests from stakeholders, which they tackle over the course of three-week research sprints. Planning, recruiting, and scheduling happens within the first week of a sprint—which means that fulfilling these requests often requires finding participants that fit very specific criteria in a short period of time.

So the Browser UX Research team started evaluating user research recruiting tools to find a solution that would allow them to find and schedule qualified participants, fast.

That’s where User Interviews comes in.

The solution

Paula's team, including the Agile research program, now uses User Interviews Recruit to fill studies that require speaking to very targeted audiences—teachers that use Flipgrid, for example. 

From the pool of matched participants provided by User Interviews, they then hand-select participants to make sure they’re talking to a diverse and representative group of people. They use the platform’s messaging feature to communicate with participants, send Microsoft Teams links, and manually distribute gift cards.

scheduling multiple sessions with user intervies
Paula’s team also uses User Interviews to source participants and schedule multiple, simultaneous interviews as part of onboarding education workshops.

The results

“User Interviews has been really great for recruiting highly specific profiles. We haven’t had any no-shows, there’s been a great participant response rate—it’s been a really smooth process and a positive experience.” — Hannah Nursalim
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The Microsoft Edge Browser UX Research team uses User Interviews to recruit participants.

Hannah’s favorite thing about the User Interviews platform is that her team can review screener responses to improve their screener survey design.

For example, the Browser UX Research team was seeking to understand how people use Microsoft Edge. Their initial criteria was narrow—they wanted to talk to consumers who use both a Windows Virtual Desktop and the browser.

But when so few participants qualified, they had to rethink their screener. Hannah explains:

“We left the screener open for two weeks, then we looked at where people failed and what we should change. In the end we decided that people could be using any virtual desktop. You know, let’s be flexible and see who our audience is.”

So they edited their screener to let in more participants (who could still help answer their most important research questions).

“With another recruiting tool, we’d have to remake the screener, contact customer success to redistribute, and such. Other platforms don’t have the same flexibility.”
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