How HoneyBook made research available to everyone

By UserTesting | June 15, 2023
4 professionals sitting around printed graphs on a table

If you ask Nicole Wright, UX Researcher at HoneyBook, what her company’s product is, she’d tell you it’s an all-in-one business management platform that helps creative professionals and small business owners get booked fast.

The legions of loyal HoneyBook members, however, describe the platform, which recently surpassed $2 billion in bookings, a bit differently. Streamlined client management comes up quite a bit in conversation around this hot new small business software, as does managing projects with ease and saving you from your worst business nightmares.

“HoneyBook takes care of everything from the moment a small business gets a new lead, through the entire booking process, to the moment they get their first payment and begin working  with their client,” Nicole shared during our interview.

Nicole actually started out as one of the very first HoneyBook users. She loved how it helped her run her own small business, and felt a calling to help other business owners learn how to solve some of their most pressing challenges with HoneyBook.

“We currently have five different product teams and I work with all of them, but as a research team of one, I primarily work with our core product teams to ensure that our users are at the center of everything we do. The more we understand their pains, needs, and use cases in both their day-to-day work life as well as within HoneyBook, the better we can build a solution that empowers them to spend more time doing what they love.” she said.

“Many small business owners have created a process that relies on so many different tools. They pieced together a system as they built their business, but end up spending more time trying to stay organized and keep up with their incoming leads than they do on their actual craft. It’s a constant struggle to figure out  where their leads are coming from, what they need to do next to book them , how they get paid, and then chasing money down once they send an invoice.”

“HoneyBook brings their process together in one place so that our members can focus on doing more of what they love.”

HoneyBook users weren't the only ones suffering from disconnected processes

There was no research team when Nicole started at HoneyBook over four years ago. Although the company always listened to customer feedback, , formal research was a new concept for HoneyBook and for her. So Nicole’s unique challenge was determining what research meant for HoneyBook and the processes to do it effectively.

Nicole shared, “The first part of building research at HoneyBook was finding the right tools to use. There’s not just one way of doing it, there are so many different methods — you have usability tests, user interviews, surveys, card sorts.... I chose tools that were great for collecting insights for the different methods, but then all of your insights are stored in different places, making it difficult for others to access.” Add to that five years of user feedback gathered by the sales and support teams, and the challenge of finding the right tools to use was real.

“After we chose the tools we wanted to use, bringing everything together became the real struggle.” Nicole said.“Every time we would go to start a new feature, trying to understand what insights or feedback we already had was a matter of digging through all those different tools. Like talking to everyone on the support team or sales team to ask, ‘What have you heard?’ And then I had to figure out where the heck I put that Google Doc that had the notes from the interview I did eight months ago.”

Nicole found that their progress was delayed every time they set out to start a new research project — or worse, they were doing the research again because it was faster than trying to find the insights they already had.

“That,” she said, “was the tipping point.”

Discovering a research-focused solution

One of HoneyBook’s UX designers, Stephanie Cruz, came to Nicole with the idea of trying EnjoyHQ.

“It was called NomNom at the time,” Nicole remembered, “not EnjoyHQ yet. We got one of the first previews. We had been working with the Bonobo system and the AI was great, but it wasn’t designed for research.”

And that’s what HoneyBook needed: something with a research focus where they could store everything — all the research they had done. All the customer feedback gathered by the various teams. Everything.

“We needed something we could access easily that didn’t require me digging into Google Drive and going insane,” Nicole joked.

The early preview of our software quickly proved to Nicole that EnjoyHQ was exactly what she’d been looking for.

The results that HoneyBook has achieved since switching to EnjoyHQ were beyond expectations. It  did more than make the research process easier — it empowered the company with the user insights needed to deliver on their mission to put customers first.

It all started, however, with building a better research process.

Building a better research process at HoneyBook

Streamlining the process of gathering, storing, searching for and working with research — no matter where it comes from
“I’m a bit of a process nerd,” Nicole admitted. “I love building processes. I even like doing this with our members, asking them, ‘What does your process look like?’ So one thing I’ve been very grateful for with HoneyBook is that I’ve been able to build the research process from the ground up.”

The sales team at the company works with Drift and Salesforce software, whereas the support team uses Intercom. Before using EnjoyHQ, Nicole had to access the data from each of those systems individually. “You had to go into Intercom and search, or say, ‘Hey, sales team, can you pull us a report of everything that mentions this?’”

Now all three of those software platforms are connected to HoneyBook user data through EnjoyHQ. Nicole can now see clearly who the personas are and what user segments she’s working with.

HoneyBook also struggled with inconsistent tagging between all their systems. “When we started using EnjoyHQ, I wanted to make sure that research, support, sales and marketing were all using the same language, so that we can actually pull all of these insights together,” said Nicole.

Nicole’s own research system was also cumbersome. “I have an Airtable to manage the research projects we’re currently working on. Prior to EnjoyHQ, I would have to add a link to each user session once it was recorded, and then we would take notes and I’d have to link to that. So in order to access any of this information, I was using Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Zapier to push everything to Airtable. But it wasn’t really searchable. It wasn’t easy to pull up the information. If you weren’t familiar with my system, then there was no way for you to find information on which user session you should watch.

With everything now living inside EnjoyHQ, Nicole rests much easier.

Making it easy to find the right questions and start with what they already know

“The other issue that I kept struggling with during user sessions was the breadth of content covered,” said Nicole.  “Talking about one feature could easily evolve into a conversation about multiple features or upcoming features or issues the users is experiencing. With all of that living in Airtable, unless you take the time to meticulously tag each user call, that information gets lost. So again you’re stuck repeating research when you already have the answers — you just can’t find the information.”

Now when Nicole starts a project, she starts in EnjoyHQ and dives in to see what insights and feedback they already have from Intercom, Drift, and past user research.

“We can see what we already know, and what it is we still need to know. Then when I build the research plan, I’m not starting from scratch. We know what our goal is and can focus on the questions we still need to answer. We’re not repeating research. We get to focus on how we move forward quickly.”

Delivering on customer-centric culture at HoneyBook

Nicole knew that one of the biggest gaps they had in research at HoneyBook was sharing. From individual user sessions to research summaries, she knew it was important to make research accessible to everybody. But until EnjoyHQ, this was not easy for her to do.

Closing the sharing gap

“Sure, we could share each individual user session with everyone, but let’s be real. How many people in a 100-person company are going to sit down and watch me talk to someone for 45 minutes to an hour? I don’t want to hear myself do it again, so most people at the company are not going to do that,” Nicole mused. “And unless you take the time to create individual highlight reels of each session, then it’s difficult for the information to be consumed by everyone at the company.”

The challenge was making the information readily available and widely accessible without needing everyone to spend an immense amount of time on it.

“ EnjoyHQ has made it so that we can create overarching projects and transcribe all of our videos. So now not only do we have the recorded sessions, but they’re searchable.”

Nicole cleverly uses the company Slack channel to make user sessions even more accessible to HoneyBook employees. “I have a Zapier set up so that every time we do a user session, the story gets shared from EnjoyHQ into the select channel, and it has a quick highlight on what feature it was about.”

Nicole and her team also rate each user session to make it easy for everyone to focus on the most valuable sessions. “If I have a session that wasn’t as valuable, I’ll give it a low rating so that everyone knows they don’t need to prioritize watching that recording. But if you see a session that got a five-star rating, and it’s a feature that you’re going to be working on, you know you need to take the time to watch it.”

Now that  all of the discovery information and user sessions are in one place, Nicole can create a useful summary in EnjoyHQ and easily share that with the wider team via the dedicated Slack channel.

Getting everyone involved

Ensuring everyone has access to all the research is only part of what Nicole loves about EnjoyHQ. She also loves how it’s made it easy for everyone across the company to get involved in the process.

“Not only have we been bringing in project managers and marketing team members but also developers. This is significant because the development team doesn’t always get to see the research side of creating a new feature and, as such, don’t always understand why we’re making certain decisions,” Nicole said. “Now they really enjoy watching user sessions and reading the summaries. It helps them  understand our users better. I think that’s how you build a really good product, when everyone understands who they’re building it for.”

Nicole has spent time training other employees how to use EnjoyHQ, how to understand the file hierarchy she has created, and how to search and create projects. And her effort is paying  off. HoneyBook’s employees are now more connected to each other and to the business owners they serve.

Growing the research base

Nicole doesn’t plan on being the sole researcher forever. “I want other people within the company to feel comfortable asking the questions and being able to feel like they’re making an impact on user research as well.”

She admits that she’s always tweaking things in EnjoyHQ to figure out the best hierarchy and organization so everyone can use it, no matter their function.

“You have to be open to changing your process a little bit, because in the long run it’s going to make the whole process better for everyone across the company to understand how to read the research, how to access it, and how to start on their own. If they know what the research process looks like, they can be a part of it. And I think that’s huge.”

What HoneyBook is looking forward to next

Nicole is most excited about templates and the new Project Plan feature.

“Templates are going to be huge. Now we can templatize our process so that it’s the same for everybody,” Nicole said.

“And the other area where I’m extremely excited is the planning. Up until a week or two ago, all of my research planning and briefs were still outside of EnjoyHQ. And I could go and look at the results and the summary, but I didn’t understand how I got there. Having all the planning connected as well as the research itself makes a huge difference.”

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