Over the past decade, top-performing companies have afforded UX, CX, and MRX teams more operational independence.
And for a good reason. Studies repeatedly show that empowering insights teams with more independent decision-making authority enables those teams to move faster, work more efficiently, and make better on-the-ground decisions.
In short: Independence enhances research agility – that is, the ability to engage the right mix of tools, applications, and research methods to deliver the answers their stakeholders need on accelerated and evolving timelines.
But alongside enhanced research agility comes new challenges with regard to cross-team communications and organizing research, namely, UX, CX, and MRX teams become more independent and move quicker than ever before, these research centers have become increasingly siloed. More decisions are made without “higher-ups” immediate knowledge, and communications break down between teams that are not in sync with each other.
Siloed UX, CX, and MRX teams create a wasteful overlap, research duplication, and poor knowledge discovery across departments. This is especially problematic given the natural dependence of each of these teams on the other.
We propose that business decision-makers continuously counterbalance this side-effect of operational independence with insights repositories – centralized platforms to store and organize research on the fly.
By engaging the right insights repository applications, companies can empower their UX, CX, and MRX teams to mitigate – and even reduce – the wasteful inefficiencies inherent in siloed work patterns, and thereby advance corporate objectives without losing the benefits of increased operational independence.
Table of Contents
- UX vs. CX vs. MRX
- How do UX, CX, and MRX teams overlap?
- How Siloing Happens
- How to Break Research Silos
- References & Further Reading
UX vs. CX vs. MRX
What do UX, CX and MRX teams do? Do they need to be in sync with each other? If so, why?
Understanding the subtle but important distinctions between these insights teams helps showcase the value of insights repositories toward advancing corporate insights goals.
What is User Experience (UX)?
User experience (UX) teams study the ways people engage with a product (or service) and the experiences these users have during and from that interaction. UX researchers often use metrics like success rate, abandonment rate, time to complete, and clicks to completion to study the experience of their product (or service) on users.
What is customer experience (CX)?
Customer experience (CX) teams study the complete experience people (not only users or customers) have with a given brand. This includes both pre-and post-sale experiences. CX researchers often use ideas like overall experience and likeliness to recommend as ways to measure the experience people have with their brand.
What is Market Research (MRX)?
Market research (MRX) teams study the commercial, cultural, and economic setting in which a product (or service) is being sold and used, usually to determine the viability of a new product (or service) in a given market. MRX teams use metrics like demand, willingness to pay, and market size to measure viability.
How do UX, CX, and MRX teams overlap?
In general, UX and CX teams are closely related and often work closely together. MRX teams are less dependent on both UX and CX to conduct their work, though their findings often inform the context within which UX and CX research takes place.
For example, UX teams running A/B tests on new in-app messaging to determine that messaging’s impact on cart abandonment can make truly informed recommendations only by first understanding what brought users to the app in the first place. That, in turn, is the role of CX teams to study, synthesize, and communicate across departments. And even broader is the role of MRX teams, which inform key decision-makers about the potential size of the market, given the product’s (or service’s) uses, features, cost, and on-the-market alternatives.
To recommend new in-app messaging, then requires a synthesis of research and understanding across MRX, CX, and UX teams. Only with clear and continuously-updated information from each other can these teams make actionable recommendations to other dependent decision-makers.
How Siloing Happens
As product (and service) suites grow within a company, UX, CX and MRX teams can (and should) develop highly-specialized fields of study.
From usability experiments and A/B tests to consumer surveys and focus groups, UX, CX and MRX teams embark on detailed projects to enhance the work of other stakeholding departments. Marketing, product development/design, operations, and even executive teams depend on insights from UX, CX and MRX teams to make informed, data-driven decisions – oftentimes about highly-specific features and components of company products, services, and go-to-market strategies.
And as noted above, the most efficient way for individual teams to generate the insights demanded by stakeholders is to operate with maximum operational independence. Good researchers follow the data – this often means employing mixed and unanticipated methods to discover the answers needed by requesting parties. To send requests up the corporate hierarchy – especially when working in-field with users, customers, and target market consumers – is time-consuming and costly.
UX, CX and MRX research is highly nuanced, and lobbying decision-makers for more resources and permissions draw valuable resources from researchers whose most important work is done “in the field.”
But an unfortunate side-effect of increased operational independence for these teams is that information-sharing becomes more difficult. Highly-specific requests may generate hosts of dependent research initiatives, the purpose and benefits of which are difficult to decipher outside of those teams who are conducting the research.
How to Break Research Silos
Maximizing comprehension and information flow between UX, CX and MRX teams requires optimization on two related dynamics:
- Managerial (to promote and enable a culture of information-sharing)
- Technological (to store, organize, and synthesize research data across teams)
The managerial problem has been addressed at length elsewhere. Simply put, cultivating a culture of openness where teams have the resources and know-how to communicate (and interpret) information to other stakeholders, is a corporate imperative.
But optimizing the technological dynamic remains a significant challenge for many companies employing UX, CX and/or MRX teams. In particular, adoption rates for insights repositories have lagged behind such rates for similar solutions for other departments and corporate initiatives. In addition, the technological development of insights-specific repositories has not kept pace with the rates of development of other such repositories (i.e., CRMs).
But what causes what? Does technology lag because adoption rates are low? Or does adoption lag because technology fails to add value?
We propose that poor technology itself is the cause of this problem. To date, most attempts to solve the problem of functional, value-adding insights repositories have failed to account for the nuances inherent in UX, CX and MRX work. Further, the fast pace of innovation in UX, CX and MRX has made it difficult for repository platforms to keep pace – platform rigidity, staticity, and (ironically) poor UI/UX have presented these teams with significant challenges in persuading researchers of the value of investing resources (including time) into keeping their insights repositories up-to-date with their research.
If insights repositories only create more work for researchers, then they undo whatever is gained by affording these teams more operational independence.
Effective insights repositories, then, should anchor around three key elements, as defined by Kristi Zuhlke:
- Insights, themes, and stories that are tagged, indexed, and unified across teams and projects.
- Observations and nuggets of information that put tribal knowledge from siloed studies on display for all to search and see.
- Raw research data & evidence so that teams can review and relayer primary-source data with newer insights.
Further, insights repositories’ backend technology should automatically graph together findings for UX, CX and MRX researchers. They should not be designed to rely on researchers to link data points on their own in order to discover new findings across projects and initiatives.
An Insights repository, in other words, is not a wiki. While all text entries should be searchable, these repositories should not require researchers to post and publish volumes of findings in narrative form in order for the platform to link common themes and ideas across projects. This is another reason why linking raw research data is vital to the continued improvement of an insights repository toward enhancing research agility. “Smart” technologies can draw upon this raw data to interpret findings of their own – in addition to (and to enhance) whatever themes researchers are narrating into the platform.
An effective insights repository will solve the problems of low repository adoption by UX, CX and MRX teams by adding to – not stealing from – researchers’ time and energies. And they will de-silo research initiatives by facilitating quick – and even automated – connections between related data points and projects by drawing upon both researchers’ inputs and raw data files.
The result: UX, CX and MRX teams that operate independently, but with a fuller understanding of what work is being done across all research initiatives at their company. This means high-quality research, less duplication, and enhanced research agility.
Increasingly siloed UX, CX and MRX teams are an unfortunate side-effect of increased operational independence among these teams. But siloing is not unavoidable. By employing insights repositories built to account for – and even enhance – the nuances inherent in complex UX, CX and MRX initiatives, companies can break down barriers and facilitate value-adding communication between these fast-moving and inter-related projects.
References & Further Reading
- Don’t Just Copy What’s Worked Before: How to Build a Member Insights Strategy That Works for Your Company | by Levels Health | Dec 2021 | Medium
- Research Repositories & Knowledge Graphs – The Experience Journal by QuestionPro
- Atomic research: Definition, methods & examples | QuestionPro
- The Power of Insights: A behind-the-scenes look at the new insights platform at Uber | by Etienne Fang | Uber Design | Medium