Cisco Webex is one of the leading collaboration platforms globally, ubiquitous in offices from Bangkok to Baltimore. But the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated its use, as well as expanded who was the typical Webex user.
“Traditionally, a product like Webex has primarily been used by knowledge workers in an enterprise setting,” said Mani Pande, former head of UX research at Cisco Webex. “But right now, because of COVID and social distancing, everyone uses a product like Webex. People are using Webex to talk to their families. They're talking to their friends. I've had Webex calls with my mother-in-law, which I never did in the 20 years that I've been married.”
To illustrate that change, as the pandemic took hold in April, more than half a billion people used Webex for a total of 25 billion minutes worth of meetings, or 3X more than normal. During the spring, Webex also found that:
Traffic on the Webex backbone connecting China-based Webex users to their global workplaces increased as much as 22 times since the outbreak began
During the same time period, Webex saw 4-5 times as many users in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, with the average time spent on Webex video meetings doubling among users in those countries
On average, free sign-ups in impacted countries are up 7 times over pre-outbreak sign-up rates
Pande and the Webex team needed to better support all their customers—whether B2B professionals or high school teachers—and their changing needs so that they could stay connected anywhere, anytime, and on any device. Deadlines were tight. But how would they go about getting insights to iterate quickly and deliver on time?
Webex took advantage of UserTesting’s large and diverse network of contributors from around the world and used Live Conversation to build more empathy for their global users and understand their needs, wants, and expectations throughout their journey of experiences with Webex.
For example, with educators remotely teaching over 1.2 billion students worldwide during the pandemic, what were educators' needs in Brazil, and how did they differ from those in Boston?
“The good thing was that we were able to talk with a lot of teachers globally,” Pande said. “So, whether we needed to talk with people in Brazil or Australia or anywhere else, we were able to do so in a very short time period because of Live Conversations with UserTesting.”
Through fast feedback from users, Webex introduced more than 100 new features since the pandemic began, such as noise cancellation, Breakout Rooms, live transcription, and Webex Classroom.
Chuck Robbins, Cisco’s chairman and CEO, during his opening remarks for the 2020 WebexOne Conference, said the new normal would include remote collaboration. “That’s why we’re so focused on making the Webex experience 10 times better than in-person interactions. Because we have an opportunity to reimagine what work looks like. We can do this by simplifying your experience, making it more customizable and more inclusive to fit your needs.”
Pande said the best UX research happens when product managers, engineers, designers, and other stakeholders participate.
“They need to know what it's like to be in the shoes of the customers. And the only way you can be close to the customer is if you're listening to them and observing them,” she said. “We are not building products for just ourselves. We need to understand, will it work for the educator in another country who has never used Outlook before? What do they need and why? We love UserTesting because it’s so easy for anyone to use, not just researchers. I love that I can get insights in hours and collaborate with others during projects. It has the largest network, making it easy to find very, very specialized target audiences. It's our fastest solution for concept iteration and idea validation."
We love UserTesting because it’s so easy for anyone to use, not just researchers. It's how we gain customer empathy across our company.
Mani Pande Former Head of UX Research at Cisco Webex, Mani Pande
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