Västtrafik & Panelista

May 22, 2020
Written by
Anders Palm

The value you get compared to the effort you put in is amazing!

We use Panelista for exploratory research in early phases, but also for insights and opinions over time. We are getting a lot of long and thought-through answers, suggestions, and comments.


Västtrafik is Sweden’s second-largest public transport agency and responsible for public transport in western Sweden. Every day 400 000 customers choose to travel by bus, train, tram, and boat. In close cooperation with their partners, Västtrafik uses a customer-centric approach to public transport. The goal is to be the obvious choice for travelling in the region. Västtrafik is evaluating Panelista as a way of involving their customers when they improve current and develop new services. So far two panels have been created; Västtrafik Labs focused on the development of services and Ferries of the future focused on the traffic across the river dividing the city of Gothenburg.

We at Panelista interviewed Annelie Alm Bagå who is a service designer, and Samuel Nygren who is the product owner for the app Västtrafik To Go and Västtrafik’s trip planning services.

Why do you use Panelista?

AnnelieWe want to get in touch with different types of customers to discuss ideas with them. We use Panelista for exploratory research in early phases, but also for insights and opinions over time.

Samuel: Yes, it is important to get the customers’ input before we design new features.

Annelie: It is a bonus to be able to show that we include our customers and that we are an innovative company.

How is it going?

Samuel: We are getting a lot of long and thought-through answers, suggestions, and comments. Not just thumb up or down. The value you get compared to the effort you put in is amazing!

Annelie: The engagement is very good so far. I do a lot of work with gathering customer data and insights, so I had a pretty clear picture of how it would work. One concern I had initially was how to facilitate this type of online panel to get nice and constructive discussions. I thought it would be hard, but it almost takes care of itself.

Samuel: Yes, I expected less engagement as we do not compensate the panelists for being part of the panel. I also did not think that so many panelists would answer our follow-up questions.

How did you recruit panelists?

Samuel: We decided to contact people who had shown an interest to engage in the past in some way. We invited people to the panel through a popup in our app, and by sending email invites to selected customers we had been in touch with before.

Annelie: The first panel was a general panel, and for that we recruited people we had easy access to. It seemed like a good idea to make it as easy as possible to get started, and then recruit more focused panels later on. Our second panel is for a specific study about traffic across a city river, so for that we invited customers who travel with our ferries across that river.

What type of questions do you ask?

Samuel: One question was to test a few of our hypotheses around necessary information when something unexpected happens; “How would you like to find out if something unexpected is going to affect your trip?”. Another question explored customer needs for possible subscription services; “Should Västtrafik offer some kind of subscription? And if so, what is important?". Through these activities we learned a lot of new things.

Annelie: We also asked a question where we linked to a prototype for a new feature in our app, so the questions can be quite different. Sometimes many panelists share the same needs, sometimes it varies much more.

Do you work with customer insights in any other way?

Annelie: Yes, we test prototypes, interview customers, send out surveys etc. Panelista’s format with one question at the time generates longer and more nuanced answers compared to surveys. It is also nice for the customers to see the face of the person asking, rather than just seeing the name of a large company like Västtrafik. Now you get to see the people behind the brand.

Samuel: A video question on Panelista gives in-depth understanding. Not as deep as hourlong personal interviews, but somewhere between a round of interviews and a survey.

Annelie: It is very easy to send out a video question compared to scheduling meetings with people for interviews. I also like that people answer when and where they want to when using Panelista.

What has been the best thing so far?

Annelie: The first question! The feeling when a lot of answers appeared almost immediately. It showed that the panel was engaged and that the customers wanted to contribute. We also got several hypotheses confirmed right away so that we could act on them.

SamuelThe best thing so far is how easy it is to actually send out a question. If you know the topic you want to explore, it takes us 30 minutes to come up with a good question and 20 minutes to record it and send it out. It is even quicker for colleagues who already have a roadmap where there is a natural flow of new relevant topics to explore.

What has been the most difficult?

Annelie: To not look too serious in the video! To find your own format which is relaxed but still professional. I would also love it if there were even more discussions between panelists and that the panelists took each other’s answers and ideas to the next level. We have seen some people do this but I want more!

Samuel: Overall it is probably for us to take the insights and make them into designs and tasks quickly enough when we find out what the customers need. Regarding Panelista, I agree that it is to make the videos. It can be challenging to act natural and speak freely, to skip bullet points and scripts. Just like a musician with chords where it gets better when you just listen and play along, but it requires courage!

What is it like working with Panelista and the Panelista team?

Samuel: I have never heard of this kind of service before. You are doing something completely unique. The product is really enjoyable. Simple to use, clean, and gives you a great overview. It feels well-thought-out and well-crafted.

Annelie: It works really well and it was easy to get started. I am looking forward to seeing Panelista grow and get more features, and we have a good dialogue about things that can become even better. For example it would be nice to be able to send out a quick question where panelists give a simple thumbs up or down. It is great that we got started with this and hearing about how it works and how easy it is has made more people at Västtrafik interested in trying it out.

Thank you, Annelie and Samuel! Read more about Panelista here .