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In-Store Ethnographic Research

Over my 10-week summer internship at Techshed by Home Depot, one of my projects focused on exploring the in-store journey of customers when they ask associates for Do It For Me (DIFM) service, also known as lead generation. How, when, and where do customers ask for DIFM? Why it is effective or not effective? What are the opportunities non-specialist associates have to engage customers?

My mentors for this project were Jerome Q. Sinocruz and Bryan Kern, User Experience Researchers.

My research provided Techshed with a better understanding of Customer & Associate interactions in the store environment. My efforts informed actions of UX and Operations team to create a customer-facing in-store product for generating leads. 

 


1. Context

Techshed company connects home owners with handyman who offer repair or mount services, also called DIFM (Do It For Me). 80% of connections are being made when customers ask for DIFM service in store, but the company knows very little about how it happens. 

There are two ways for customer-facing lead generation using Techshed products. One of them is in the Home Depot store through associates; the other one is online through two different websites.

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2. My Thesis

If the company never paid the attention to the customer experience of the in-store lead generation, there is a significant chance that the experience might be negative for customers. 

My assumption is that the majority of customers who ask about DIFM recommendation in-store have negative experiences. How might we improve their experience and, as a result, increase in-store lead generation?

 
 

3. Process: Collaborating with Store Managers, Store Associates, Operations and PM teams

1. Establish Objectives: I conducted meetings with all interested stakeholders to learn about what we know and what we need to learn about in-store lead generation. 

2. Test Plan: I prepared questions, chose methods we could use and wrote a test plan with tasks. I met with internal stakeholders who used to work in the store to establish and validate my thesis. 

3. Recruit Participants: I collaborated with Techshed's operations team to learn about different kinds of stores and scheduled appointments with managers in five stores.

4. Conduct Research: I prepared floor plans for each store. In each store I interviewed the store manager, acted as a customer, interviewed associates, mapped devices (e.g. computers across the system or phones held by associates on the floor), and mapped and observed areas where leads are being generated.

5. Analyze and Present Findings: I collected data from the research (audio recordings, notes, photos, floor plans), conducted analysis, wrote up a report, and presented findings to stakeholders.

 

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4. Test Plan: Identifying Primary Questions and Finding Ways to Answer Them

Based on feedback from stakeholders I adjusted questions. I learned that the product might be suffering because of customers' negative in-store experiences. How might we maximize/improve lead generation? What do associates care about? Why would they generate leads vs sell more? Is there an opportunity to maximize lead generation by informing customers about the product without involving associates?


5. Research Findings - Associates in the aisles provide negative experience for the customers who would like to use the service. 

The process of analyzing data and writing the report took approximately two weeks. I collected data from the research (audio recordings, notes, photos, floor plans), conducted analysis, wrote up a report, and presented findings to stakeholders.  

I found that there are four possible scenarios for customers who ask about DIFM recommendations in-store. The most negative experience is when customers ask the associate who works in the aisle. These associates have the biggest rotation and majority of them don't have experience with generating leads.

There is an opportunity to improve customers' experience by providing alternative ways of generating leads in the aisles. 

 

6. How might we improve experiences for customers asking for help in the aisles? - Presenting Possible Solutions

I ideated possible solutions and presented them to the Techshed company. My research provided Techshed with a better understanding of Customer & Associate interactions in the store environment. 

My efforts informed actions of UX and Operations team to create a customer-facing in-store product for generating leads.