The emphasis on “experience” is inarguably the greatest today because the structure of everything we do has been changed dramatically by the events in 2020. Conventional user habits have now changed and the pandemic has influenced a digital bias. 80% of the consumers have increased their digital usage across a variety of channels. The Internet (and then smartphones) has made it mandatory for enterprises to design complex interactions in a simple way, to ensure that customers can embark on a new digital experience journey.
In the past, we have seen several examples of companies competing heavily for the same space and trying to differentiate themselves by raising the bar of excellence for experience. This was done primarily by leveraging cutting-edge technology or services or features that they had to offer. However, in the current times, if an organization’s products and services fail to meet the benchmark set by companies that don’t even operate in the same domain or industry, it still makes a negative impression on customers. This is because consumer expectations have become truly fluid across a variety of product and service categories. Customers no longer compare their brand experiences between two different companies in the same space. Rather, they make comparisons between their brand experiences across the spectrum. It is natural, today, for customers to compare an online shopping experience on an e-commerce portal or an app with a best-in-class airline or even a design and tech-driven company such as a top hospitality or travel aggregator.
When companies talk about “Customer Experience”, they typically mean addressing all the touchpoints (ease of use, beautiful apps & websites, AI powered digital assistants, smart messaging on social media and so on). Designers and developers have been making incremental improvements across touchpoints and norms have been established. For example, we now know how to provide a seamless digital onboarding experience to new bank customers. We have seen how clothes and accessories should be presented in a digital store. We commonly expect ultra-fast online checkout with minimal clicks. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more imperative to be able to automate mundane tasks and go one step further to provide highly intuitive digital applications to end users for a seamless experience across multiple channels.
The latest in web development is voice-activated self-standing devices and voice optimization for regular websites and apps. Strengthened with AI, voice search optimization is beneficial for both end-users and product owners. Firstly, it saves time and allows a user to order more (online shopping and services). Secondly, the technology is multitasking. Finally, it gains extra loyalty points from the users as it helps them to cope with routine. And, finally, voice usage is a powerful source of user behaviour analytics. As per Gartner, 30% of all searches will be done without using a screen by 2021. Voice commerce sales are also expected to grow dramatically and reach $5 billion in the UK and $40 billion in the US by 2022. Support for folding display (instantaneous change in screen size), leveraging predictive analytics to improve user experience, instant apps, beacon-based apps development are some of the other key experience related trends in mobile apps in the post pandemic era.
Apart from providing a transformative digital experience, the speed at which the new features or digital products are rolled out and made available to the end users is also of paramount importance. This is because customers not only bring a purpose, problem, need or question, but also come with extremely high expectations of how quickly or easily that outcome will be realized.
Recent rapid digital acceleration trends have reinstated the pivotal role of technology for global leadership.
Organizations can play a larger role in the global context if they ensure that their digital transformation initiatives are backed by a strong commitment to customer experience above everything else. To create great customer experiences means being available to consumers in the spaces they inhabit and making it easy for them to get what they want and need through the channels of their preference at their expected pace. This requires constant innovation and value addition across all technology stacks.
We must also move beyond the common belief that touchpoints are where experiences start and end. In a world where customers interact with a brand using multiple channels, it is important to take lessons from every interaction. With every interaction, customers bring a purpose, problem, need or question — along with expectations for how quickly or easily that outcome will be realized. Hence, organizations that can deliver an unparalleled customer experience across every touchpoint quickly, will be the ones that win over customer allegiance now and in the future.