How to Future-Proof Experience Management and Your Business

Summary: It is time to connect the Xs ( UX, CX, HX, PX) in the experience management field if we want research to add value. The "Future-Proofing the Experience Research Field" panel at the 2023 Insights Association Conference emphasized the importance of collaboration and integration of research roles for securing the future of experience management.

6 minutes to read. By author Michaela Mora on May 3, 2023
Topics: Business Strategy, Market Research, User Experience

Future-Proofing the Experience Management Panel

Investment in experience management is imperative. The rise of the experience economy shifted the focus of many companies from selling products and services to creating memorable experiences.

This shift led to the emergence of the X acronyms in the customer experience field, such as UX (user experience), CX (customer experience), HX (human experience), PX (patient experience), among others. While these acronyms have helped define specific research areas, they paved the way to fragmented market research and customer insights.

We often study these customer dimensions in silos, though they remain intertwined in the customers’ minds. In doing so, we often miss the interaction of many factors (branding, pricing, messaging, customer support, product use, cultural context, situational drivers, etc.) behind the overall customer experience.

Organizations with mature research functions understand connecting the Xs and integrating research areas to support experience management is crucial.

The 2023 Insights Association’s Annual Conference held in April 2023 at Hilton Head, SC, had a track dedicated to experience management, where I had the honor to moderate the “Future-Proofing The Experience Research Field” panel, together with Anthony Schulzetenberg, UX Research Lead at Lexis Nexis.

Our panelists include experienced researchers, such as:

Our discussion centered on five major topics:

  1. Securing experience management’s future.
  2. Integrating the Research function.
  3. Using mixed methodologies.
  4. Representing diverse experiences.
  5. Connecting research to business outcomes.


1. How to Secure the Experience Management’s Future

To future-proof the experience management field, our panelists proposed four major strategies.

Listen to and serve the customer.

This is an obvious point, but many companies are still more product-centric than customer-centric. Integrating customer insights and research into different phases of the product development cycle guarantees that customer feedback is included in creating sustainable and positive customer experiences that benefit both the customer and the business.

Monitor industry trends and market shifts.

Companies must proactively monitor trends and market shifts in and outside their industries. Many factors affect the customer experience besides product use. Secondary research and tracking studies are essential in customer trend monitoring.

Anticipate future business requirements.

The research team(s) needs to understand the business, be in tune with the business strategy goals, and work with other functions to anticipate future business requirements. All functions in a business have a direct or indirect impact on the customer experience. Service design and foresight innovation research can provide guidance for future experience-based growth plans.

Design research to support business outcomes.

Adopting mixed-method approaches and learning from adjacent research disciplines allow research teams to design research that adds value and supports business outcomes.


2. How To Design the Research Function

Currently, the market research/insights function has many configurations depending on its maturity level.

The level of maturity of the research function correlates with the following:

  • Its place in the organizational structure (e.g., Marketing, Product, Above both).
  • Integration or lack thereof of research groups (UX, Design Research, Customer/Consumer Insights, CX, Voice of the Customer).
  • Type of research done to support the business.
  • How it works with internal stakeholder groups
  • Research team’s name and job titles.

Things are changing. Innovative organizations are moving towards integrated research teams.

In these organizations, research teams are going back to their multidisciplinary roots creating integrated teams with members or subgroups that work in market research specialties that have been operating under different group labels Consumer Research/Insights + UX/Design Research + Voice of the Customer/CX.

Our three panelists discussed how it looked for their organizations: AARP, Rocket Companies, and Arity.

3. How Mature Research Teams Use Mixed Methodologies

Experienced researchers know that no research method is perfect. No one method provides all the answers. To get a comprehensive understanding of complex subjects such as customer experience, we need to conduct research using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.

In organizations with immature research functions, research designs are driven by the tools and methods familiar to the research team—the law of the hammer rules.

The issue worsens if the team relies primarily on internal research resources and doesn’t bring external research partners to expand their capabilities and skills.

Our panel stressed the need to use fit-for-purpose methodologies and adopt a multidisciplinary approach to studying customer experiences.

It is crucial to connect the Xs and integrate research functions to add value to the business.


4. How to Represent Diverse Customer Experiences

Diversity of experiences fosters innovation. To represent a diversity of customer experiences, we need to include diverse customers as research participants. However, including diverse research participants is easier said than done.

The panel discussed three common barriers to diversity and representation of different customer experiences in research:

  • Higher sample cost.

Although online sample panels are the most commonly used sources to recruit research participants, many diverse segments by age, ethnicity, income levels, regions, and disability spectrum are underrepresented, which results in lower incidence rates, increasing recruitment and incentive costs.

  • Industry regulations to prevent discrimination.

We have introduced industry regulations in the US to curtail discrimination against marginalized populations. Examples of such regulations are the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair Housing Act, which regulates collecting and using demographic information to prevent misuse.

Regulations like these have helped prevent discrimination but can hinder our efforts to include representative samples in research for those industries.

  • Lack of diversity among researchers, stakeholders, and suppliers.

Although researchers try to be objective and unbiased, we are still human beings. We can escape biases. The only way to minimize biases in reach is by triangulating experiences and perspectives across research team members, stakeholders, and external partners.

Similar backgrounds and experiences lead to experiential blindness, which prevents research and stakeholder teams from noticing different customer segments or considering their needs and experiences.

Ignored customer segments go underrepresented in research, products, and experiences companies deliver, hence missing market opportunities.

As researchers, we must strive towards a holistic research approach and represent diverse experiences to achieve business outcomes.


5. How to Connect Experience Research to ROI

Finally, our panel agreed that to secure the future of experience management, we need to connect research design and goals to business outcomes to show its ROI.

If user/customer experience improvements don’t contribute to business sustainability and growth, the research function will lose its value.

Our panelists discussed several metrics used to measure outcomes, including

  • Quality research metrics to identify how often insights are incorporated into experience and product development decisions and design iterations.
  • Customer lifetime value metrics in connection with experience improvements.
  • Sentiment metrics and customer satisfaction metrics like NPS in connection with lifetime value.

In short, we need metrics to showcase how research can drive success for the business.