I am a UX/UI designer and developer working remotely for a number of large enterprise organizations internationally. In my experience, enterprise companies often hire UX, but rarely ever receive what they think they are buying. Because my team works remotely and in agile, UX is always an afterthought. My issue is that I have a hard time selling my methods because I cannot use them and often lose business to design firms that sell the “idea.”
Whew! That’s a certainly a tough situation, no question! If I can read between the lines a little bit here, seems the fundamental issue is around three critical, interrelated axes: presence, influence, and access. Getting access to the right end-users so you can run useful studies is essential – but in organizations not yet fully understanding and fluent in the value of user research, it’s dependent on your ability to communicate the value and build up trust. This goes back to working with your champion or sponsor who brought you in & presumably pays (or signs off) your invoices. Work with them to identify where the gaps are in understanding WHY you need direct access and HOW that research will add to (not replace) stakeholder inputs. It’s vital they realize that you’re not
a) trying do an end-run around them
b) disrupt any customer deals
c) sabotage their precious relationships (this is also a great opportunity to ask stakeholders to help you prep, flatter them with acknowledging their expertise and ownership of key relationships)
You need to craft the right narrative that appeals to their suspicion and reinforces your goals of how this all actually helps everyone, especially the customers themselves. Hopefully you and your champion can find some friendly, trusting (or at least willing to take a chance) stakeholders who can get you direct user access, with customers who are friendly and trusting too. (maybe they already signed off on big deal and bought tons of licenses, so your research request can be floated in as a follow-up…this can bridge squeamishness from Sales/Marketing/Customer Success teams and serve as a useful “pilot” of cross-functional collaboration in a lightweight manner).
So in the end the “real” strategy is in cultivating relationships by knowing where the gaps are and creating effective stories that speak to their qualms/nervousness/insecurities. It’s hard when you’re remote – so I highly recommend video calls (with full face and body language signals) to get that presence and influence going. Work it from the angle of what’s in it for them, how this will help them be successful, and enable positive returns downstream. Hopefully those doors of access will open up sooner than expected!
Do you agree with Uday? What else might you suggest—or do differently? Please share your own advice in the comments.
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