3 COVID-19 test templates to help you stay connected with customers

By Janelle Estes | March 25, 2020
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When people are faced with uncertainty, the natural response is to gather information that will help them develop answers and find solutions to their problems. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve monitored the usage of the UserTesting Human Insight Platform and noticed a dramatic increase in the number of tests our customers are running. While this is likely due to the increase of remote research as of late, we were specifically curious to understand if the tests deployed were being used to uncover some virus-related uncertainties.

Not to our surprise, more than 200 COVID-19-related studies have been created in our system, most of them in the last five days. What’s most compelling about these tests is the diversity of what’s being tested. The tests aren’t just about how easy it is to understand or comprehend something, but they also capture customer attitudes and needs, emotional reactions, buying plans, and so on. 

Here are some examples of the types of tests we’re seeing as they relate to the current pandemic:

  • Reactions to services like home delivery
  • Emotional reactions to messaging and imagery in ads and communications that talk about the virus
  • Customer reactions to business policies like cancellation fees and changed dates for events
  • Customer anxiety surrounding buying plans and purchasing processes
  • Usability and navigation of news organization and government agency websites for their virus-related content and information

While it’s important that businesses understand the needs of their customers, especially during times of great change, there’s a level of awareness and sensitivity that needs to go into the creation of these types of tests. 

Templates for collecting remote feedback surrounding COVID-19

To that end, we’ve created a set of Insight Core study templates for UserTesting platform users to collect remote feedback on how their customers are adapting their behaviors to the current environment as well as how they are perceiving messaging and communication from their organization. The templates are fully customizable and help businesses capture, in light of our current environment: 

  • How Coronavirus/COVID-19 has impacted a specific behavior
  • People’s reactions and perceptions of how an organization is responding to Coronavirus/COVID-19
  • People’s reactions and perceptions of an organization’s advertisements or commercial messaging

In order to verify the success of these templates, we conducted a few tests on our own. Check them out below.

Template 1: COVID-19 – Understand impact on specific behavior

We used this template to explore how people’s grocery shopping behaviors have shifted, and what they expect from grocery stores during this time. With this template, you can capture:

  • How is my target audience reacting to the COVID-19 crisis?
  • What behaviors, related to my company or industry, have changed based on the crisis?
  • What expectations do people have of my company/industry during this situation?

When we asked people how their grocery shopping behaviors have shifted, many agreed that the virus had significantly impacted how they did their grocery shopping. For example, one person said: 

It’s definitely impacted how I grocery shop. I have to be more cautious. I have to find someone who can take me to the grocery store, and I have to go during a time where I think many people won't be going, which is sometimes fruitless because they're so it's still vacant…just a huge outage of supplies and groceries.

When we asked people how they wanted grocery stores to respond to the current situation, they had many suggestions, including:

  • “Don’t inflate prices. I don’t think that’s legal anyway, but I’ve seen some stores do it regardless.”
  • “I think elderly should have a certain time when they can get to the store, because I know for my grandmother, it's hard for her to get supplies now, too, because everything is sold out by the time she can get to the grocery store.”
  • “Updates on Facebook for local stores that say ‘we have this’ and ‘we don’t have this’; that would be helpful.”

Template 2: COVID-19 – Understand response impressions

We used this template to gauge people’s impressions of how Wegman’s, a grocery store chain, is responding to Coronavirus/COVID-19. With this template, you can capture:

  • How does my target audience expect my company and/or industry to respond?
  • What feedback and reactions do people have to my company’s response?
  • Did my company’s response meet people’s expectations? Why or why not?
  • How have people’s perceptions of my company changed based on the response?

When we asked people what they wanted to know about Wegman’s response plan, people were interested in understanding the safety and precautions they were taking. People said:

  • I want to know how they are giving food to people on the delivery side.”
  • “[I want to know] how they are handling food, how their employees are being sanitary/ increasing cleanings, and so forth.”
  • “[I want to] understand supply chain and inventory.

When we asked people how useful and clear the response was, participants scored usefulness as 4.4 (out of 5) and clarity as 4.8 (out of 5).

When we asked people how the response message could be improved, people gave suggestions related to the more “human” side of the pandemic, such as how they were caring for their store employees and a more personal perspective from the company. They said:

  • Tell me how you are taking care of your employees.”
  • “Tell me what you are doing as people and not just as a business. If I had the power Wegman’s had, I would try to give a message that anybody can relate to—not just Wegman’s customers.”

Another improvement suggestion was to make the content shorter and easier to consume. 

When we asked people if the message met their expectations, most people said the message exceeded their expectations. One person said:

It definitely exceeded my expectations. Based on other brands that I’ve seen, they’ll just send out a little email and it’s not very personal and doesn’t give you specifics.”

When we asked people if their perceptions of Wegman’s had changed based on the response messaging, some people said their perception had been impacted, but in a positive way. They said:

  • “Oh my gosh. It’s very impacted. I love that y’all are doing this.”
  • “It’s a bit impacted, but definitely in a positive way. It’s nice to see the steps that they are taking.”

Template 3: COVID-19: Understand messaging impressions 

We used this template to gauge Instacart’s Instagram post from March 20, 2020. With this template, you can capture:

  • What does the message convey?
  • Do people understand it? How does it make them feel?
  • Do people feel compelled to “act”?
  • Is it brand appropriate?

When we asked people what the message conveyed, they commented on how it contained tips for using Instacart during the pandemic. People said:

  • “During the Coronavirus pandemic, they are trying to reach out to users so that they can better use the app. They are providing information for new users and long time users.”
  • “The main point of the post is to share some tips on what Instacart can be used for since there might be new users.”
  • “How to stay safe and do things so you aren’t going to harm yourself or others.”

When we asked people how the post made them feel, some used positive words, such as reassured, confident, and safer, and others used less positive words, such as confused and unreliable, but this was likely due to the negative comments on the posts and not the post itself.

When we asked if the post compelled them to act, most disagreed due to the negative comments associated with the post. They said:

  • “Looking at these comments, I feel like Instacart isn’t as good as it used to be, and how the coronavirus has caused them to change their policies.”
  • “Looking through, it looks like every comment is negative. I’m definitely dissuaded from using it based on these comments.”

When we asked people if the post was brand-appropriate, most strongly agreed that it was. 

When we asked people how they might improve the post, they made suggestions about content and imagery. Specifically, they said:

  • “When they show the tip for “check delivery times frequently”, I’d change the picture. I would probably post a more thoughtful message, especially when the pandemic is happening. 
  • “Maybe mention how this is a safer alternative than going into the store right now.”
  • “Use graphics that would help you understand how the app works instead of pictures of food.”

Don't let social distancing get between you and your customers

We can’t stress enough, regardless of what business you’re in, customers are looking to you for the same (or better) customer service and experience they’ve come to expect. That means this isn’t the time for best guesses and long-shots. Listen to your customers. 

If you’re a current UserTesting customer, use these templates to ensure you’re meeting your customers exactly where they are, and empathizing with what they’re currently going through. You can access a step-by-step guide for using these templates in our knowledgebase article.

For those who aren’t currently using our platform, and would like to try it out, you can access a free trial for our latest product release, Marketing Insight.

Moving from face-to-face feedback to remote methods

Watch UserTesting's Chief Insights Officer, Janelle Estes, and UX Researcher, Rosa Smith, in this recorded webinar as they share advice for building empathy for your customers, remotely, in just 3 easy steps.

About the author(s)
Janelle Estes

Janelle is UserTesting's Chief Insights Officer and an expert research practitioner fascinated by human behavior and intrigued by data insight. She brings over 15 years of experience conducting large-scale customer research initiatives with both B2C and B2B companies across a variety of industries to help them transform their customer, user, and brand experiences.