First thing first – every company that builds or relies on user-facing software can benefit immensely from actionable user research and user testing. (And if you disagree, I’d love to change your mind). It’s the backbone of ‘sticky’ products and the actual special sauce behind analytics maps and 5% increases in conversion rates.

For years companies have been forced to rely on secondary or intermediary metrics, like pages per session, time on page, or number of logins per month. But behind all these metrics are actual human decisions and intuition. If a product team or a marketing team could move beyond observation to understanding, they could proactively build smarter and faster.

In large companies, this often means in-person focus groups that are expensive, time-consuming and unfortunately often unreliable. Recruiting and paying participants, hiring a trained moderator, renting a conference room, setting up audio and video equipment, paying for snacks and travel, writing the moderator’s script – there are dozens of hidden costs to consider. In fact, running a pair of traditional focus groups today in a tech-first city costs more than $18,000, according to Nielsen Research!

Besides the upfront cost and time of a traditional focus group, it can take weeks just to recruit enough qualified people, and the problems don’t end once you’re at the table. Each member brings their own biases, and people love to agree with each other. One person’s forceful personality can throw off an entire group’s feedback. To properly validate an idea, it is often recommended that moderators run three or more focus groups. The result is nearly $40,000 invested, between cash and your team’s time to validate one set of assumptions or product change.

Even the best of focus groups often leave the Product managers and their teams to design new apps and features based on fragmented, unreliable feedback. Worse, teams are expected to redesign those apps and features every time a new focus groups feedback comes in. These redesigns cost tens of thousands of dollars, take months to complete, and can yield inconclusive or contradictory results. Simply put, traditional focus groups are broken. You and your team need a tool that works as fast as you do.

For small teams, the cost of professional focus groups make them entirely unrealistic. These teams will often settle for a 3rd party tool like Survey Money, or attempt to conduct user research by watching dozens of hours of FullStory recordings. It’s time-consuming, flooded with incomplete data, anecdotal, and de-contextualized.

Parlor helps you get actionable feedback from your users faster and for a fraction of the cost of traditional focus groups. Through Parlor, product teams shave months off development cycles.

The concept that’s missing from traditional user research is that of live collaboration with your users. By adding a‘relationship layer’ to your live product experience you can share and preview mockups of new ideas and features inside your live product and get feedback right away. Parlor will track user activity, engagement, sentiment, and ongoing feedback as they try things out. All of this means you can validate features before building them, and understand what really motivates your users.

Parlor even lets you segment and A/B test your users, not just people who happen to fit your demographic. You can ask as many questions as you want, and ask different questions to each, all with just a few clicks and no additional cost. The same tests would require new focus groups for each. And because Parlor isn’t geographically-bound, you can collaborate with actual paying customers around the world.

Moreover, the cost savings are massive, both in terms of time and cash.