This article was originally published on Medium.


We surveyed and interviewed over 200 product managers, user researchers, and UX designers to understand how leading organizations generate customer insights through research and data.

The goal of this research is to help organizations benchmark insight generation processes and find opportunities to improve their ability to create excellent customer experiences. The research provides insight into how data is collected, the current tools used to originate and analyze research data, and opportunities to improve and enhance related processes.

The results of the research paint a compelling picture of a growing commitment to customer-centric practices and delivering excellent user experiences across industries. Below are some interesting findings from the report.

Customer experience isn’t just a strategic priority — it’s a competitive differentiator

When we asked, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how big of a strategic priority is creating an excellent customer experience to your organization?”, 58.9% of respondents answered with a 5/5, with 87% answering at least a 4. Fully 98% of respondents answered a 3 or above.

Even though companies are prioritizing customer experience, their assessment of themselves shows great room for improvement. Only 21.6% of companies believe their customer experience is best-in-class in their industry, and 39.5% believe they are at or below average.

Qualitative research is growing as a discipline with no signs of slowing down.

84% of the companies we surveyed indicated that the amount of customer/user research their organization does has increased in the past two years.

79.4% of the companies said they expect an increase in the amount of time and resources dedicated to qualitative methods of generating customer insight over the next two years.

Product professionals are feeling the pain as research demand grows.

We asked respondents to rate how time-consuming various research-related tasks are in their organization. Not surprisingly, ‘analyzing sessions’ was number one on the list, followed closely by ‘putting together deliverables.’

Analyzing research takes an average 2.7 times as long as conducting it. That means that for each hour of research conducted, almost 3 hours are spent compiling the sessions into shareable insights — that’s nearly 4 total hours of work per hour-long session.

Research is under-used outside of product testing.

85.7% of respondents indicated that user research is used in their organization to test product concepts. General user discovery was the next most common type of research work done at 77.1%, followed by live products at 76.2%. Surprisingly, less than half of these companies do competitive testing, and less than a third test marketing and sales material.

Lower-effort data collection is ubiquitous, but its value is limited.

89% of companies indicated they use surveys to generate customer insight — just beating out moderated user interviews (88.2%) as the most common method.

However, when we asked these same respondents to give us a sense of the relative value of survey data, surveys ranked 5th out of the 7 methods listed. In fact, when we asked respondents what they would choose if they could have only one source of insight into their customers, just 1.6% of respondents chose survey data.

Moderated interviews are more popular and perceived as more valuable than unmoderated ones.

Even though unmoderated research tools have become quite popular, less than two thirds of the companies in our research use this type of test, and only 50% of companies use software to automate user tests.

However, 87.6% of companies conduct moderated interviews, indicating the value of more difficult-to-execute and time-consuming research work is more popular because its value is so much greater. This indication holds true when respondents were asked to rank the value of different research methods, with unmoderated user interviews ranking 4th out of 7 (just ahead of surveys).

The full report contains more data and charts, as well as key insights and actionable recommendations you can implement immediately in your own organization.

If you’re interested in the full report, you can download a free copy of the full report here.