Digital user experiences: Customers are still king / by Gavin Lau

In a digitally transformed world, customers hold more power than ever before. Emerging technologies have rapidly and radically changed consumers’ expectations of how and when they interact with brands and businesses. Digital leaders are meeting those customer expectations by delivering seamless, personalised multi-channel experiences that align clearly with what customers want.

But for every digital user experience leader, there's a busload of businesses struggling with customer experience. A recent eConsultancy report found almost all (94%) businesses know that personalised user experiences are necessary for customer engagement and conversions; it’s just the three-quarters (72%) of businesses don’t know where to start.

I am not a developer, I’m (effectively) a business analyst, so my advice to organisations who don’t know how to approach user experience optimisation is to go back to the basics. And for me, that’s customers.


Customers still come first

Customers are the reason we are all in business: we’ve created something that we’re proud of, that we believe in and that other people want to buy because it meets their needs (or their perceived needs). Despite the digital packaging, this business truism has not changed in the many years since we each hung up our shingles and opened our doors. Without digital customers, there is no digital business, so it is up to us to put them first.

Putting digital customers first means choosing technology solutions that allow you to serve customers better, not implementing technology because you like the idea of it. As Andrew Thorburn, the CEO of National Australia Bank, says of the bank's recent technology overhaul: 'It's not for the sake of it. It's so we can deliver for customers faster and better than anyone else.'

And deliver they have: pilot tests show productivity improvements across a range of personal banking products. Using the new system, most new personal loans are available for draw-down within 17 minutes: using the legacy system required customers to wait up to 12 hours for fund availability. NAB's example shows how heightening customer experience can drive productivity as a by product.


It’s our responsibility to deeply understand our customers

As business owners, we need to understand and respond to our customers’ concerns with products and services that resolve those issues. Sometimes it’s easy to know what we’re responding to; other times, we’ll have to dig deeper. Digital leaders do this by investing in analytics platforms and capabilities that allow them to deeply understand their customers. They’re serious about journey mapping, and they know all digital and non-digital touch points that lead to conversion. This means they hold a powerful competitive advantage: insight.


Insight drives customer acquisition and retention

Take Triumph, for example, whose consumer research found lingerie shoppers are constantly in disengaged ‘browser mode’ because they dislike trying products on. Triumph created an online and offline interactive environment in Selfridges, complete with a ‘fantasy booth’ mirror, which allowed shoppers to see how the lingerie would look on their body, without having to remove a single article of clothing. Real-life models showed the lingerie range, which included QR tags that shoppers could scan to download an official application. The application delivered exclusive content, allowed shoppers to book a spot in the ‘fantasy booth’ and make purchases. Not only was the office launch a success, but sales  were lifted by 50% in the week following.

Another great example of technology heightening customer experience and resolving real customer issues, rather than businesses being led by technology.