In today’s services-led economy and highly competitive business landscape, every second counts when it comes to creating the ultimate customer experience. This has fueled discussions about the importance of data when looking at customer experience, as well as the opportunity to derive monetary value and actionable insights from it in real time. But businesses are still being held back from translating the benefits of their data into business value. This is due to lack of technology to properly access and analyze it, adaptability for how to apply it as users’ needs constantly evolve, and an elegant design to enable its use—resulting in sub-optimal customer experiences and, in some instances, lost revenue.
For organizations to harness the power of their data, they need to think beyond siloed business objectives and adopt an integrated approach that includes the entire customer experience. Depending on the industry, this could be a consumer’s, patient’s, investor’s, or citizen’s experience. Let’s take an online store as an example. Mapping a complete picture of the customer journey requires identifying what data is available and accessible (i.e., loyalty card points and purchase history), what data needs to be collected (i.e., customers’ favorite items and supply chain back orders/stock levels), as well as how its use ties back to the ultimate experience (making sure you have what high-value customers want when you predict they will want it). This approach needs to include a combination of understanding the users’ role, how users interact with your application, and the desired outcome from their use of the application. Simply put, if you do not think about the complete user experience and fail to incorporate a value creation strategy in the interaction, the application will fail to meet its intended objectives.
Here are three tips for effectively using data to deliver a superior user experience that will create a lasting impression and keep them coming back.
1) Include the user in the business strategy.
According to Gartner, organizations that excel in personalization will outsell companies that don’t by 20 percent. If your firm doesn’t think about user experience, how can you compete with others that are? For all new applications that are being developed, you must ask how the user wants to engage in more value creating activities as a result. As the application is designed, think about the complete user experience and then align your business strategy with it. For example, if you cater to high net-worth customers, do you have detailed personalized information for the call center representative when they make an inquiry? If you want to cut down the time it takes to respond to an issue, would the user want self-service access to a knowledge base? It is important to make sure your application gives the user access to all critical data needed to make business decisions in real time before the opportunity is lost.
2) Understand the environment in which the user will be interacting with your application.
It seems simple, but it’s often overlooked: When developing an application, consider the end users’ environment. What is their role? What else are they doing when they are using the application? If they do not like it because it takes them out of their frame of mind, they will abandon it. Think about ways to better understand what the user is doing when the application is in front of them. Conduct an assessment and collect data about their roles and workflow. What problem are they trying to solve when they are using the application? What information do they want to help them make a decision? Once you’ve established how they work, decisions can be made about how to structure the application so that it is easy to use.
3) Align technology with the user.
Technology is the enabler. While there are many attractive technologies available, developers need to apply only those that align best with the business and workflow needs of the user (and which are user-friendly). On the list of priorities, place “should we?” above “can we?” There will always be a newer technology to consider or a flashy new feature to add—but if it doesn’t improve the user experience or drive business goals, it’s just bulk. Will the technology support the addition of new data sources as they become available without lengthy development cycles? Will the analytics adapt and learn with shifts in trends? Consider consolidated data platform architectures that can simplify the back end infrastructure and ongoing support while not sacrificing required capabilities for creating the ultimate customer experience.
While these tips might seem a bit overwhelming, the alternative is even scarier: The inability to make a business decision in real time that advances the user experience and/or the business goals. With thorough planning and a new perspective for the user experience, organizations will be able to effectively monetize data and gain an important competitive advantage.
Julie Lockner is director of partner programs and marketing with InterSystems.
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