Posted by Amy Buckner Chowdhry on Sep 29, 2017

In our work with hundreds of Fortune 500 companies, AnswerLab has a first-hand view into how UX Research (UXR) teams are organized, aligned, and structured to support digital initiatives. Although many executives realize they have a need to develop their customer insight capabilities, few have optimally positioned their UXR teams to have maximum influence on end products or on strategic product decisions, in order to solve more customer problems. In fact, in BCG’s recent benchmarking research, the firm found that only 20% of companies surveyed had reached full maturity in their customer insights functions.

In order to help companies understand where to focus on elevating their UXR organizations, AnswerLab has developed a diagnostic tool for evaluating UXR teams on the 10 key best practices we have observed lead to maximum influence. We encourage you to leverage this heuristic review as a starting point in creating an advocacy plan for your UXR team. If you need help in building a case, please feel free to reach out to one of our strategists.

10 Best Practices to Get Maximum Impact from Your UX Insights

Use the following rating scale: 0 = Does not exist, 1= Needs Work, 2 = Achieved

  1. Executive-level sponsorship of UXR who sees value and contributes to scale and growth of the function
  2. Strong UXR team leader to socialize strategic insights, measure and share ROI, and advocate for UXR practice
  3. Ample central UXR budget, owned by central UXR team
  4. Roughly half or more of the UXR team focused on strategic, product-agnostic research such as exploring the customer problem space for new product opportunities, synthesis of customer insights across studies, and investigating future technologies (AI / VUI / VR)
  5. UXRs perceived as strategic component of product team vs. internal consulting service; UXRs imbedded with product teams AND aligned with central UXR team; UXRs have a seat at the table for major product decisions, viewed as voice of the customer and thought leader; UXRs maintain neutrality and objectivity by formally reporting into UXR function, which reports into a senior executive
  6. UXR team coach who fosters skill development of UXR team, defined UXR career paths, and strategies to retain key players
  7. Formalized opportunities for UXRs to collaborate with each other, to build alignment on insights across projects, and to become a consistent voice in the company
  8. External insights partner leveraged to achieve scale and round out methodological capabilities; relationship structure with partner minimizes churn of paperwork/legal/POs
  9. Central UXR team establishes consistent research process, methodological rigor, and ongoing benchmarking across products
  10. Central UXR group socializes wins, insights, and capabilities throughout the organization

For UX insights teams to realize their full potential, they must be optimally organized and fully sponsored by executive leadership. When this occurs, more products fit market need, customers win, and Fortune 500 companies can achieve their growth objectives.

Written by

Amy Buckner Chowdhry

Amy Buckner Chowdhry founded AnswerLab over a decade ago to help the world’s leading brands build better digital products. Under her watch, AnswerLab has grown to become a trusted UX insights partner to companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and more. She was named one of Fortune’s 10 Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs, one of EY’s 10 Entrepreneurial Winning Women, one of San Francisco Business Times’ Forever Influential Women Business Leaders, and Watermark’s Top 10 Women Who Have Made Their Mark. More about Amy→

related insights

stay connected with AnswerLab

Keep up with the latest in UX research. Our monthly newsletter offers useful UX insights and tips, relevant research, and news from our team.