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Bringing stakeholders close to the customer experience

The following is a guest blog written by Simon Herd, Director of Design Research at Sutherland Labs.  

Traditionally, user-focused activities have been conducted by specialists who either move from research to design directly themselves, or who pass the baton to others. This is partly a factor of history, but with UX now in the business mainstream it’s increasingly important to bring others closer to customers and their lives. Collaboration with stakeholders is king, but how do you do this smartly when we all have too much to do and too little time to do it in?

Why is collaboration so important?
Jan2017-Sutherland1

Often product managers and those responsible for success are primarily understanding their customers via metrics such as CSAT and NPS. These are deliberately simple, but create a challenge in understanding the why behind the what, which is crucial for identifying low-level change that makes a difference.

Involving users is the key to overcoming this, but techniques for doing so owe a huge debt to an academia and rigour in experimental design. Anything involving real users or customers is moderated by specialists, with stakeholders disconnected behind a one-way mirror or getting their understanding from an after-the-fact synthesis. There are very good reasons for this, as anyone who has seen stressed product managers observe their ideas being casually dismissed in a user session can testify.

However as UX moves out of labs and into mainstream business, UX activities can’t be solely conducted on this basis. There are too few UX professionals, who are in evermore demand as it becomes a mainstream concern. Also, an increasingly multi-touchpoint world means that knowledge needed to make products more effective for their users becomes increasingly diffuse.

So why doesn’t it happen more?

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