Engage 2014 is only a week away! I’ve had the great honor to be a presenter at this annual user conference for the past 14 years, and it has been wonderful to see the conference grow from a small group of customers gathered in our company’s conference room, to taking over the DoubleTree hotel with over 300 registered attendees. This year’s conference promises to be the best yet, with my personal favorite, the keynote speaker, Dave Carroll, the overnight YouTube sensation “United Breaks Guitars” and best-selling author. Dave will share his personal story about the importance of customer experience, and the impact that social media can have on even the largest corporations. Stu King, a masterful user experience designer, and I will be partnering up to deliver a break out session entitled, “CX and UX – A Marriage Made in Heaven”. We are finishing up our presentation now, and are very excited to talk to attendees about how CX and UX are rapidly converging, and how many companies have a significant digital transformation gap to overcome. If you will be attending #Engage14, we hope to see you in our break-out session!
Having worked in technology for almost 20 years (yikes, I’m dating myself again!), I have witnessed many companies that were so focused on creating cool technology, that they forgot about the most important thing in any technology project. How will this technology actually benefit the user? In the 90’s and 2000’s, it was all about automation. How can we create applications that will replace the need for people? But, in the name of automation, we often forgot that our customers still wanted a “personal touch”. Case in point: complex IVRs were implemented with the goal of reducing the number of calls that needed to be handled by customer service representatives. These systems were mechanical and static, and often times very frustrating for the caller. This lead to an overwhelming sentiment that IVRs were evil and callers quickly learned to press 0 just to get to a live person. Fortunately, best practices and trends for IVR design today take a much more user centered design approach, and utilize data about the caller from a CRM system to generate customized menu options based upon what we know about the caller (without asking them to enter an account number), and utilize natural language speech recognition and conversational prompting to get the caller where they need to go quickly and painlessly.
User centered design and customer experience go hand in hand! With any application, it is vital that we consider the benefits it will have to the user and the experience they will have when using it. Some companies have done this very well, like Apple with the iPhone and iPad; or Zappos which has managed to personalize the online shopping experience. Others have not done so well, like retail store self checkout lanes, which invariably will require you to wait for assistance from an employee even with the most simple of transactions. The truly innovative and most widely used technology today all started with a user centered design approach.
What technology initiatives do you have underway or are planning in your organization? Did you start with designing the customer experience, or did you start with building the technology? How can you incorporate user centered design into your technology projects?
A recent telephone survey conducted by Braun Research on behalf of Bank of America provided a rather candid look at how our mobile phones have become an indispensable companion and personal assistant for most Americans. When asked to rank their mobile devices importance in their daily life, the survey respondents ranked their mobile phone as equally important as their car or (gulp), even their deodorant! Among the Millennials surveyed, 96% said that their mobile phone was THE MOST IMPORTANT part of their daily life, ahead of such basic hygiene tasks as brushing their teeth and deodorant.
While these statistics are shocking (and quite possibly, smelly!), they do shed light on the changing expectations for customer service. This same survey provided evidence that HOW customers are interacting with banks is changing, and rapidly! Bank branches with ATMs and Drive Through Windows are quickly becoming less important, as online and mobile banking applications become more widely used. According to the survey, only 23% of the respondents conduct the majority of their banking transactions through a branch versus 47% conducting the majority of transactions online or through their mobile device.
The picture in this tweet provides a humorous illustration of how mobile technology has changed over the past 3 decades. Our mobile phone has evolved from the need to talk “on the go”, to rapidly becoming an indispensable companion, as confirmed within this telephone survey. When it comes to the options we provide to our customers for interacting with us, are we considering the options we can provide through their mobile device? Or, are we still under the outdated assumption when it comes to our mobile strategy that “smaller is better”? If so, what impact does that assumption have on your overall Customer Experience?