How to Identify and Increase your “Experience Quotient”

Patanjali Chary, Vice President of User Experience, Ellie Mae

Even in enterprises with mature design practices, true design execution requires UX leaders to speak and understand the language of business—finance and strategy—and to communicate the impact that superior experiences have on overall business strategy. This talk will demonstrate how models and concepts used by leading management consulting firms help enterprises develop successful design-driven strategies that increase customer value and adoption.

Patanjali wants to reflect on what we heard in the prior talks. JJ talked about how to understand where your organization fits on the UX Maturity Model, and how to take steps up the rungs of that ladder. Dorelle talked about he important of building trust and strong relationships across your organization. Today, he is going to talk about how do you ultimately connect the value of user experience to the business, because sustainable investment in UX requires a different strategy. It requires understanding that great user experiences can be quantified. In order to do so, we need to speak the language of business. He is going to talk about how to become the CEO of the experience.

He studied with XX and found his calling. Now he is leading larger UX teams. Between jobs at Microsoft and Oracle, he became a strained chef. In 2009 he talked at CHI about how UX can learn from food design. He is currently the VP of User Experience at Ellie Mae, based in Pleasanton. Close to 40% of US residential mortgages go through their lender platform. There were about 12 UXers when he’s joined, and the team has grown to 31 now. Having the right mix of skills is critical.

Why do designs often end up sitting on a shelf? From job candidates, he has heard that nine times out of ten they couldn’t build it, or it never shipped. Is designing the right solutions enough to execute? Who wants to design a product the right way but never ships? What is the missing piece, here? We all recognize that design quality is really important. But design execution is actually the key.


If we are going to design something, lets make sure we can get it into the hands of the users.

He has other questions, too. Why is the UX ROI story still primary about reducing failure?


What happened to UX delight?

Aaron Walters wrote about the hierarchy of user needs (based on Maslow). Karen Hansen talked about UX delight, and how that can drive up to 75% of the variance in NPS scores. But NPS only gets you so far …

How can we quantify that delightful experience can mean both higher product and higher business value? Will people pay more for a better experience? We know the answer to these questions! Users will pick the better experience, and will likely pay a premium for it. Today, everyone expects a better experience, so UX is no longer just hanging on. We have started to move up and be a strong presence in our organizations. We aren’t just there because we’re needed – we are starting to lead. What does that really mean for us? Can we expect a better result if we don’t change what we’re doing? As a pilot, we have a responsibility for everyone in the aircraft. How do we find the synergy between business value and great user experience?

In 2010 he decided to go back for his MBA. He was the only designer in both of his cohorts, and it completely changed his world. He was exposed to so many analysis tools and techniques that he had never heard of. Even in his first semester, he started to have epiphanies.


This has so much in common with UX:


He started to reflect on how he could bring these worlds together. From that he developed these key learnings:


The last one is perhaps the most important – investors invest in the dream, not the fix. We talk about how things are broken and need to be fixed. But people want to hear about the dream – that will get them to invest in you.

In business school he learned about Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Acquisition / Retention Costs, etc. How can we provide that delightful users are more loyal? Could this be the holy grail of UX?

Yesterday, JD talked about the Service Profit Chain Model. He is going to unpack that further for us. Three Harvard professors wanted to explore whether greater market share lead to greater profitability. Will customers pay a premium for a product or service? One of their examples was Southwest, which never moved past #7 in volume, but they are the only airline to report profitability for 24 straight years. Through their research they learned that if you focus on improving the quality fo the experience alone, hat makes the price highly elastic, and customers start to ignore the price all together. A 5% improvement in experience thus results in 25-85% in profitability. So, better experiences lead to higher profits! Their studies were in the 1990s, and they looked at many industries. In software, it normalizes to about a 35% increase.

Today, he is introducing the User Experience Quotient (UXQ):


A high UXQ is what we need to get the business to understand – it’s what we’re all after. So, what’s next?

Getting back to design execution. How do we get that investment? He is going to share a case study from Ellie Mae. He was able to show how UX Strategy is aligned to business strategy, and then create an investment pitch. Some of these very sophisticated models can work to help us convince the business.

He interviewed 43 people from across the organization, he took notes and coded them, and then categorized them. And then he used the Dynamic Capacities Framework (“Teece” Model), which is a way of creating a strategy model for a constantly shifting business environment. It requires scoring these dimensions of analysis, and he added quality because of it’s importance to UX.

chary-08Each dimension gets mapped to a position on the graph:


The first grouping of dimensions is Resources, and in includes things like the mix of your UX team, how visible it is, how competent it is, and whether UX is thought of as a brand. The next grouping is Capabilities, which includes consistency of process and deliverables, strategy. Finally, the Quality grouping. Do we have the ability to create quality experiences, do we achieve consistency through visual design language, ultimately giving our customers confidence?

He scored them, and then plotted the current state on the graph:



Finally, he considered where he wanted to be on those dimensions in the future. The gap between current and future state helps determine where to focus and invest:


He took that analysis and made an investment pitch all the way up to the Board. It was a little bit of an experiment. However, from that he got a five year commitment, including a 517% increase in the UX budget. He put up some very large numbers, and they agreed because he was able to communicate in their language.

In summary we have to understand the business, and speak in their language. We have to align our UX strategy to business strategy. We have to pitch the dream in their language. And that ultimately enables us to deliver delight – but we have been waiting, and we know how to do that.


All of this enables you to become the CEO of the experience.