One Knight in Product

Standing up for User Research... and User Researchers (with Debbie Levitt, CXO @ DeltaCX and Author "Customers Know You Suck")

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Episode notes

About the Episode

Debbie Levitt is a long-time UX and CX consultant who wants us all to get better at putting our users at the centre of the conversation, rather than paying lip service. She's the author of a few books, including "Customers Know You Suck" and runs a thriving community of UX professionals. Some of the stories from that community have concerned her, alongside the general perceived decline of the strategic role of UX, and she recently came out all guns blazing against continuous discovery, PM-led research, and one particular author who champions it. We spoke about the role of UX and CX in organisations, what's happening to user researchers, and whether PMs are really to blame for it.

Episode highlights:


1. User Experience and Customer Experience used to be the same thing, and they can be again

In these digital days, it seems like most people think UX people are just there in the corner to colour in people's ideas, but UX should be a strategic role that enables user and customer-focused decision-making and makes sure we always balance our business's needs with those of our users.

2. We prize and prioritise speed over quality - we just have to get it done

We've been moving fast and breaking things for long enough now to realise how often it doesn't work. User research feels unconscionably slow to some people, but it doesn't have to be slow, and doing good user research (whoever does it) is an investment in trying to get things right.

3. No matter how much product managers feel they're disempowered, they're still the Golden Children of the company

Back in the old days, product managers were hiding in the corner with the UX people, as agilists and engineers rode through the company calling all the shots. Now the UX people are hiding with the engineers whilst the PM makes all of the decisions. There's a power imbalance, and it's not a true "trio".

4. User researchers are getting laid off, some of the jobs are gone for good and, at least in some cases, this is because leaders think they can just hand the work off to PMs

It's not fair or reasonable to lay all of this at the doors of PM thought leaders championing certain approaches. There are plenty of UX thought leaders who champion them too. But, people are getting laid off and at least some of them are blaming PM-led product discovery as the root cause.

5. We should be able to look at books and take what works from them, but apply critical thinking and ensure that we don't follow any message blindly

Most books have something useful in them, and all approaches can work in some contexts. Debbie has her approach, others have their approaches, and there's no one "right way". But, it's important to make sure that approaches can be challenged, expanded upon, and that the approaches and techniques are described clearly and without room for interpretation.

Check out "Customers Know You Suck"

"Customers Know You Suck is the how-to manual for customer-centric product-market fit. Its highly actionable models, maps, and processes empower everyone to improve the Customer Experience (CX). Learn how to investigate, diagnose, and act on what's blocking teams. Gather the evidence and data that better inform decisions, leading to increased satisfaction, conversion, and loyalty. Use our governance model for implementing and monitoring the progress, success, and failure of internal process changes and experiments."

Check it out on Amazon or pay what you want.

Check out how to use a Knowledge Quadrant

Debbie is a fan of doing good discovery, naturally. Here's a video of an approach she recommends called the Knowledge Quadrant: Workshop: Discovery Phase - Knowledge Quadrant

Contact Debbie

You can catch up with Debbie on LinkedIn or check out Delta CX.

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