The ups and downs of being a matchmaker in Bukalapak Design

Have you had a failed relationship? Without even realizing it, your ex (or exes) will always be a lesson learned, that looking for “the one” by yourself is a hard thing to do. Sometimes we need another person. A friend who knows what your heart desires and gladly helps you pave the way to the right one.

But as unpredictable as the love itself, matchmaking never been an easy feat. When we think two lovebirds ticked all the boxes, there is always something unforeseeable happened. You might got other candidates on your rolodex, but your ‘client’ could lose their interest, or simply leaving it all. No one wants to let down their friend, since everyone deserves a happy ending.

We’re matching people for a living

When it comes to the product design process in Bukalapak, there is a similar role to that matchmaker. Instead of doing it on free time and for romantic relationship, we do it professionally to support the effort of our fellow UX researchers.

It’s called UX Research Operations or Research Ops, and I’m a proud part of them. We even name the process of matchmaking as recruiting process. Our daily tasks involves helping the researcher to find the right participant (we also love to name them, ‘the one’) and arrange their research session.

Same as a matchmaker browsing possible matches, it’s time-consuming to filter and message hundreds of potential profiles. Again, I realized that this process has been integral part of our effort to make a better, user-oriented product. You know, without meeting the right participant, we can’t find the right insight or decide which design is better for our users.

Our rollercoaster day of matchmaking

As a matchmaker for researchers and participants, our job greatly depends on researcher’s exact needs for participants, allocated time to conduct research, availability of place or location, and many uncertainties. The researchers themselves won’t able to give me a solid ground, since they are dealing with the dynamics on their team, such as product manager’s request, feedback from data scientist, or even additional ideas from designers.

To give you a clear picture on how are we dealing with those requests in daily basis, here are some snippets that came through our Telegram channel:

Researcher: Mbak, bisa minta cariin partisipan buat besok? Sorry dadakan.(Can you find me participants for tomorrow? Sorry for the short notice.)

Researcher: Mbak, partisipan nya udah dapet? Barusan ada masukan dari PM nya kita ga jadi pake user yang belanja X aja dan mau belanja X, Y, Z juga. (Have you got me any participant? This is just came from PM, that we decided not to have user who only shop in X, but also the ones who shops in Y & Z.)

Researcher: Gue mau riset tapi datanya boleh dari lu ga DS gue lagi sibuk banget, user biasa aja kok ga neko-neko kriterianya. (I want to do a research but I need the [user] data from you, since my data scientist is busy. Just find me the regular one, that’s more than enough.”

Yes, thus things just like unexpected events in a matchmaking people. Sometimes it’s hard to adjust everything with people's needs or time, dealing with their emotions and give solution for their problems.

You can see how hard to adjust everything to match everyone’s needs and time. Not to mention our attempt to emphatize with them and give a glimpse of solution for their problem. It seems when everything done right, no one notices, but if it done wrong, everyone would point their finger at us.

Our ways to becoming a great matchmaker

Before you express your concern towards us, let me ensure you that we are more than fine. It’s a part of challenge that we are willing to overcome. That’s why we keep asking “Are this is already the best way to do our job?” or “What we have to do if it ends like a tragic matchmaking attempt?”

Those never ending curiosities helps us figure out things to smoothen the process and clear up our stakeholders’ expectations. I would like to share some of them, but please take it with a grain of salt, since the result may vary, depending on your organization’s dynamics.

  1. Create a recruiting system. Currently, we are using Trello as a platform for requesting participants. There we provide templates for researcher to brief us about the project, describe what kind of participant they are looking for, and when they want to run their research.
  2. Create our internal Research Ops’ recruiting workflow. This workflow helps us to maintain our service and get the things done. It also helps new member of Research Ops to understand how we work inside the Research team.
  3. Create supporting documents and tools for participant recruitment. One of several template we use internally is spreadsheet document that showing the number of converting Bukalapak’s user data into potential participant, their answers from preliminary screening question, and time they allocate to participate in a research session.
  4. Create a Service Level Agreement and actively communicate with the Research team. Having a dynamic team gives us its own unique challenge that’s not only to give the best service, but also collaborate with the stakeholders if the problem comes. So it’s important to have a clearer scope of work between Research Ops and Researcher.
  5. Endless searching for the most reliable recruiting channel. To satisfy the demand for participants in one calendar year, we already acquired 5 more recruiting channels, including external recruiting partners that’s essential to reach non-user participant. Yes, we heavily use social media, email and push notification, and many more, to find and nail the right match.

After all, it will give us a lot of pleasure to accomplish the project and explore the new channel or system to fit our dynamic needs.

How about you? Are you doing the same matchmaking thing like me? My take on this: don’t feel under appreciated. Working behind the scene is always a noble effort. Just like a matchmaker, no one will forget you in your matches’ journey. Or in this case, a great product that benefits our users.

Bukalapak Design

Empowering users towards a fair economy through design, voice and experience.