How to help your team get closer to the frontline

2019 Lightning Talk


In this quick presentation I will share my experience of building a merchant visit program at Shopify. This initiative started as an effort to help our employees truly feel empathy for our users and for the entire company to get the opportunity to meet them.

As a researcher, I spend a lot of time thinking about our merchants and how we can be improving their lives as business owners. As UX professionals, we are encouraged to care about our users and be empathetic towards them. However, I wondered if we were doing the best we could in terms of providing our employees with opportunities to build such empathy. As I began to investigate further, I noticed some gaps in these opportunities and started to think of how we could improve. In order to overcome the barriers I was seeing, I revamped how Shopifolk (Shopify employees) could visit our merchants and lessen the distance to the frontline. To help shorten this distance, I built a new Merchant Visit Program. This program makes it easier and encourages Shopifolk to go out and learn from our merchants. In this talk I will share how the Merchant Visit Program came to be, lessons that were learned while building this, and a strategy for anyone who wants to do the same.

Goals of talk:
● Share the importance of giving all employees (not only those who are research or UX focused) the opportunity to directly engage with users
● Share the importance of being empathetic towards your own employees when asking them to build empathy for your users ● Share How to take on a similar initiative when you already have so much going on in your day-to-day role
● Share how to actually implement a system that organizations can use to reach out to their users and share alternative ways to get employees closer to the frontline if this kind of program is not feasible ● Share how to get buy-in from other teams and/or leadership to implement this

About the speaker(s)

Melanie’s research experience started almost 10 years ago while completing a BA in Psychology. During her psych degree one particular lecture about Human-Factors and UX really stood out to her. After her undergrad and a brief stint in Italy, she found herself missing research and academia. She continued to think about that lecture and how she could work in that field. This eventually led her to completing an MA in Human-Computer Interaction. While in HCI, her thesis focused on Virtual Reality and Human Perception. After graduation, Melanie returned back to Italy for a slightly longer stint and then returned to Canada. She currently works at Shopify in Toronto as a UX Researcher.