Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. A world without it would almost seem alien. Because of this digital influx in our ecosystem, we have grown accustomed to the simplification of complex tasks. Whether the "retail-ization" of our core experiences or the automation of processes, we have witnessed seemingly impossible outcomes come to fruition. It is why many of the products and services -- from utilities to banking and travel -- that benefit our lives, have become commoditized. Companies that provide them are competing for the top spot. And the only differentiating factor is the experience that they deliver to customers.
In the current experiential economy, companies have become aware that to keep their customers - they need to give them every reason to remain loyal to the brand. Hence, to stay competitive, they are increasingly looking to fine-tune or upgrade the experience they provide. Often, they shift away from legacy technology in favour of more innovative alternatives intended to increase customer satisfaction. This process can be referred to as experience design -- the intention of improving the user experience whilst working within the means and resources of the business.
Designing a better experience
Experience design is gaining momentum as a yardstick to add and measure value to the customer life cycle. It is not a one-size-fits-all situation. It varies depending on the business and its customers. Therefore, it is important to understand customers and cater to their individual preferences.
Experience design means viewing customers as the most important part of the puzzle when ensuring exceptional customer service. They are more than just end users. They hold huge amounts of value. It is up to the business to ensure that they embark upon long-lasting journeys. Experience design is also a framework for continuous value generation, acceptance and distribution. A great design implies a proactive approach to identifying and fixing gaps between what customers want, and how a business provides it to them.
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With big data comes big opportunity
Today most companies have access to huge amounts of customer data that can provide valuable insights to further the understanding of their expectations. This abundance of big data means that there is enough information available to create true value for customers -- beyond the reactive approach of servicing their queries and concerns. The attention that Artificial Intelligence is gaining in relation to our everyday lives, is also playing a role in driving businesses to redefine experiences along with rising customer expectations.
For instance, breakthroughs in areas such as smart speakers, chatbots, augmented and virtual reality and even holograms, are helping automate experiences. They are reshaping how customers can seek and find satisfaction during real-time interactions. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, a customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human". It is increasingly vital that businesses adapt to this change in how engagement happens.
It is clear that customers want the ability to craft their own experiences, and they are embracing innovative technologies. They expect brands to give them the necessary tools to achieve what they perceive to be a comfortable experience, and the finer nuances that contribute to a satisfying service journey. To benefit from these insights and technologies though, businesses must be proactive when spotting opportunities to utilise them.
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Turning a corner
Experience design is a strategic guide rather than a structured rulebook. It does not mean that merely implementing effective self-service options or ensuring omni-channel consistency is a guarantee for profitability or sustained customer acquisition. To win the battle, businesses must take into account the multiple factors that affect the experience.
Right from the pre-acquisition stage to post-purchase care, there are moving pieces that need to be influenced. Such changes should start reflecting in budgetary allocations, technology implementation, resource utilization and the overall experience strategy.
At the end of the day, all customers want are great experiences. The only way businesses will continue to succeed is if they make customer experience their top priority, without any prompt from the customer.