Larcombe Teichgraeber is the Director of Brand Strategy and Insights at OJO Labs. The platform supports home buyers—whether they’re finding the perfect house, locating a trusted agent, or learning about financial resources and opportunities.
One of the company's key initiatives is to bring empathy for the first-time home buyer into the product design and messaging. They want their platform to be accessible and useful for anyone, regardless of their background, experience, or prior knowledge about the home buying process and system.
OJO sought out to trace the first-time home buyer (during COVID times), and map what fears, concerns, and goals they had.
They created a two week, unmoderated design whereby 22+ participants showed moments along their home-buying journey. They wanted to know: What tools were they using? What motivated their use? What did they learn? They also wanted to dig into: What competitors are they using? Where does OJO fit?
The project allowed the team to better understand where people were starting from, how far along they are currently, and how various aspects of their identity shaped their starting point and progress. Larcombe credits the distance offered by mobile as a way to spur those moments of authenticity.
"The power of anonymity helped people be very honest with me and I loved that. My subject position didn't influence any responses...you're asking and being someone who just wants to listen. I think that's why I got such candid answers... the power of not leading folks toward a particular response so that people feel comfortable sharing their stories."
The participants were just sharing their experiences and steps, not talking with a "researcher" about a process in a sterile or clinical way. In addition, Larcombe recruited using the dscout panel and was able to source a diverse and broad group of folks from across the country. Again, equity and inclusion were important parts of this project, and Larcombe enjoyed the control and reach she had to include critical groups in the work.
“I'm not blasting people with emails. I have access to really quality candidates who can express themselves confidently and honestly. As a researcher, I feel really confident because folks are saying because the moments are exclusive and are often moments that an interview can't surface."
The organic home shopping moments helped Larcombe surface new resource opportunities and new ways OJO can step in and anticipate a need. The journey moments and participants' reflections on perceptions of equity spotlighted areas where OJO could do more, expanding their ring of would-be influence and supporting folks earlier, before they're setting on the home-buying journey in earnest.
The research ultimately impacted the research team and company as a whole across product/services, partnerships, brand, and internal workflow.
In terms of product/service, OJO Labs is working to expand mortgage info and educational content on their home search site, Movoto by OJO. The team has also begun making significant investment in offering Spanish language support to primarily-Spanish-Speaking buyers/sellers with a new call center and team in Mexico.
After learning more about the financial hurdles this audience faces in their home buying journey, the company is partnering with Ovation, a credit repair agency, to provide better services to customers with credit issues.
"It was so cool to give personality to a stat, especially when standing up a new offering or feature. We had the business case, and now we had the human case. There is certainly optimization that's based on our quant data, and now we're injecting the story to ensure we're not missing anything, not overlooking anything because of our standpoints."
Teams can port dscout data into their preferred tech-stacks and start making use of it whether that's quotes, video, or light quant...all delivered by Larcombe's team.
“That is the power and brilliance of dscout: the context. We are an ML- and quant-heavy organization. Every day our product and CX teams usually start with the metrics: You're opening dashboards to try and unpack engagement drivers. But if you don't understand why someone is engaging, why they might be stalling in the middle of the process for example, you won't help support a customer to their goal. The reason a person lands on a particular page might be captured in metrics, but their goals and how those goals shift given the experience, that's not as clear."