8 Time-efficient User Research Methods for Product Managers

What are the best and most time-efficient User Research Methods for Product Managers

If the Users love your product then usually you did a great job as Product Manager. Solving the customer's problem and making it a great experience sounds like a great goal. But then business requirements, stakeholder decisions, and development issues happen and life gets more complicated in Product Management. 

As a busy Product Manager, you might feel you don’t have the time to understand your customers well enough. And you are not alone. I asked over 300 PMs in the online Product Management community how often they are able to conduct user research. Here are the Results: 

Statistic on how often Product Managers conduct User Research. Results: Almost Daily: 4% Weekly: 21% Monthly: 21% Rarely: 28% Never: 26%

According to that, every fourth Product Manager never conduct their own UX research and 54% should do it more often. 

Therefore, this post is here to help even the busiest PM to find some time for user research. Because it is really hard to successfully balance business goals with user needs if you don’t fully understand and empathize with your target user.

How to conduct User Research as a Product Manager?

Before we can start with our time-efficient user research methods we need to focus on making the time you spend also as effective as possible.

Research Goal

Never start any research efforts without a goal in mind. This sounds intuitive but sadly I saw many user surveys filled with questions that generated no insights for anyone. So, focus on the goal without narrowing the possible outcome. Here are some example goals you might have:

  • Understand how a feature is used to improve UX
  • Identify dropout reasons in your onboarding
  • Find unmet user needs to decrease churn
  • Understand the gravity of problems to prioritize better

This exercise can be done in 5 minutes and will ensure you never waste time. In addition to that, it will be way easier to get the insights you need out of your data.

Qualitative or Quantitative

Make sure to use the right kind of method to gather your data. 

  • If there are big unknowns or you want to explore and empathize with the problems of your users use qualitative research. 
  • If you are more interested in the gravity or the prevalence of something that goes with quantitative methods

If you have a hard time categorizing each method: If you gain a lot of data from a few people (usually text) then it is qualitative, if you get the insights from the quantity of data (often numbers) it is quantitative. 


If you do research never just gather and analyze it in your mind. Always take notes or document your findings for later use. There are always more people in your organization that need to know what you found out. 

8 time-efficient Methods for User Research in Product Management

There are always product decisions where data could be helpful and a great Product Manager is always connected with their users. The 6 methods I gathered for you are not a complete list of all possible ways to do UX research. However, they can be very helpful and give insights into almost anything you need to know as a PM.


Creating a good survey is not as easy as you might think. The value of insights highly depends on the correct way the questions are asked. Therefore, it is mostly not a great solution if you do not have time or knowledge. 

But there is a way to collect customer feedback easily and continuously that every product should have implemented. 

One- Question Surveys

Just asking one question reduces the complexity of creation and analyzation. Furthermore, you could implement a general question that can display the progress of your product over time.
Commonly websites use the NPS-Score to measure success in this way. Products like Typeforme have a one-click solution for that survey, so the setup time is minimal. But I prefer the PMF-Question by Sean Ellis “How would you feel if you could no longer use the product?”. 

Once implemented you create insights without any effort. Just track the progress and you have a first impression of your user's satisfaction. Feel free to change the question when there is something you are particularly interested in, this usually can be done fairly fast. 

User Interview

Chatting with your users regularly can give you so much more beyond the insights you need. While it might be more time-consuming than others it comes with the additional benefit of:

  • Gaining a loyal supporter of your product
  • Empathizing with your users
  • Getting surprised by things that weren’t on your radar

Interviews on Autopilot

If you feel user interviews could be helpful then here are my tips to speed things up:

  • Create a second question in your one-question survey and ask if they are willing to chat with a product person. Either collect their email to collect a list or insert a Calendly link to get interviews scheduled on autopilot. 
  • Ask customer support or sales (in B2B) to suggest potential interview partners so you do not need to recruit them. 
  • Always ask to record the conversation and use a tool like Otter.ai to transcribe it.  
  • Make the conversation short but focused to speed up the synthesis of your data.

Usability Testing

Observing your customers while they use parts of your product is a very insightful and targeted way to do UX research. This method is best if you are already focusing on your solution and not on the customers underlying problems. Sadly creating the tasks, conducting the test and analyzation takes time. I found two great tips from Cusrtis Stainer, Senior Director of Product at Delivery Hero, to fit that process into a Product Manager’s schedule.

Shadowing App Usage with the Team 

If you want to conduct a usability test think about some people that could benefit from joining and invite them to the session. This could be a developer who worked on the feature you are testing or someone from the sales team. The session will still take some of your valuable time, but instead of briefing the team afterward let them join. Direct contact with the end user is beneficial for everyone on the team. You will get the additional benefit of a team that understands and empathizes with your customers. 

Movie Nights

Similarly to that you can record the sessions and bundle them up to a collection. When you have enough make it an event for the whole team. Prepare drinks and snacks and watch the sessions together. It can be hard to see users criticizing your work but also a lot of fun. Let them get together in groups to discuss and evaluate their insights. This won’t distract from the day-to-day work while still providing insights and understanding. 

Tip: I would recommend doing the usability test as a live session but if you don’t find the time for that, use a remote usability platform and watch the videos when there is time. 

Social Listening

Most Product Managers already dipped their toe into social listening without even knowing it. Reading customer reviews or social posts about your company is one kind of social research. But usually, this is conducted in a very unstructured aimless way without much benefit. 

If you want to gain valuable insights about a variety of things make sure to follow the tips for effective research I described earlier. In addition to that think about the place or filter method to get data that already fits your research purpose. You want to know why so many customers stop using your product: Look for reviews or posts directly about your solution. You want to explore problems your solution isn’t serving. Communities or positive reviews from competitors might be the right place.

Conducting a whole research project where you collect hundreds of reviews and posts to extract valuable insights might be too time-consuming. So here are two tips to still gain some new perspectives. 

Hang out with your Users

Being part of your user's online communities will give you a whole new understanding of their world. It can be a constant source of ideas and will help to develop your product sense. 

  • Find groups on Facebook, Reddit, or LinkedIn and join
  • Identify Hashtags to follow on social media sites
  • Follow thought leaders your users follow
  • Bookmark review sites that list you and your competitors. 

Use this shortlist as filler time when you have to wait for someone in a meeting or when you need a break from a difficult task. 

While this might be not the most targeted approach it can make you a better product manager. Just make sure to note everything interesting you read or copy the posts in a document. You should not make product decisions on a single post but it can be the seed of an idea for a targeted research effort or an A/B Test if it is a minor change. 

Automation Approach

If you want to have regular social listening projects but don’t have the time to gather data manually and work through the messages, then automate it. 

This sounds like you need a lot of development resources or money but both are not the case. It can be free and done by a product manager too. First, create a profile on a platform like Apify. This is a no-code web scraping platform that can be used to automate the collection of social listening data. 

Use one of the pre-build web scraping solutions and plug in the site you need. Just run it and download the report. If you don't have time to analyze the data, ask chatGPT to sort the statements and categorize them. This can save you a lot of time. The final insights however should be created by manually going through the document. The only drawback you need to check if the website allows you to scrape the data before starting. Check the robots.txt file or ask directly.   

Customer Support

With a growing user base the amount of support inquiries increases as well. As Product Manager it is not your job to answer all those Problems. In most cases you won’t ever hear from the questions or problems your user is having. 

Customer support tickets however, can be a great source of qualitative data. I am not suggesting to take the burden of answering support tickets regularly but here are two tipps to make use of this opportunity. 

Part of Onboarding

Make a day at the customer support team a part of onboarding new team members. That way new employees start with a better feeling for customer problems. The insights they gain can be the first input they can give to the whole team. That way you improve the teams knowledge about customer problems while improving the onboarding experience for new team members.

Setup a Workflow

Another way to benefit from customer support on a regular basis is to setup a workflow so no interesting input gets lost. Brief the customer support team about your goal. They usually know if a ticket is the same as always or if new things emerge. Set up a email inbox for thos tickets and let them fill it up. That way you are always having an inbox full of relevant problems or questions to understand your users a bit better. 


Good user research can be the deciding factor between success or failure. No matter if your team has a dedicated user researcher, everyone on the team should stay in touch with the user. No matter how automated the process is, there is always additional work involved. Nonetheless, methods above can help to implement some kind of user research into your schedule more frequently. 

Is there a method you will implement in your routine or is there something you do that I could add? Please contact me and let me know!

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