The tricky balance of evidence gathering in customer experience design

Architecting an exceptional customer experience starts with creating a baseline of understanding. It is the collection and synthesis of evidence that forms this baseline.

The evidence phase is tricky. You want to gather enough to be informed. But you don’t want to go overboard and get stuck in analysis paralysis. There are two things that fight this phase.

  1. It is tempting to jump in and start creating ideas before we have examined enough evidence. That can lead to wasted time and effort chasing ideas that the evidence would have shown was unfeasible.
  2. Old-school, linear research workflows rarely seem efficient. In today’s digital world, we can quickly make adjustments which allows a more iterative do-learn-adjust-repeat workflow. It can be easy to rationalize shortchanging the evidence phase.

Evidence is important. But the effort should match the parameters of the project (budget, timeline, etc). So how do you decide what the project deserves? Here is a rule of thumb:

Gather enough significant evidence to be responsible with your assumptions.

With that in mind, here are a couple questions to ask:

  • How important is the customer experience challenge you are addressing? Dedicate the appropriate amount of time to evidence gathering.
  • Do you have enough evidence to reasonably defend your assumptions? You don’t need to be a deep, deep subject matter expert. At the same time, you can’t fake it. Be responsible.

There is always one more piece of research to grab. Or, another way to slice the data. It is a balancing act. But if we’re being responsible and honest with ourselves, we can find that right balance that makes our effort reasonable and valuable.