Are digital experiences getting in the way of customers’ experiences? We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Joseph Pine, author of the article titled ‘Are Your Digital Tools Wasting Your Customers’ Time?” Having previously interviewed him, we knew he had an interesting perspective on the matter. He takes a close look at the way in which the economy is working with technology in order to change the way people interact with businesses. In his mind, digital experiences go way beyond the interaction of humans and screens. He also debunks myths regarding customer experience and how it is not always better to go digital. In fact, companies often try to eradicate human interaction thinking it will be beneficial when it actually does the opposite.
Is digital wasting your customer’s time?
No one wants digital tools that waste their time. What everyone wants are digital experiences that offer time well spent
One of the key things to understanding the nature of life is that the most precious resource on the planet is the time of individual human beings.
As a consequence, the worst thing companies can do is waste their customers’ time. Yet, that’s what companies do all the time by asking for things that they already know. Businesses make customers go through procedures that they have defined as important, but that aren’t really to the end user.
‘We increasingly want our time to be saved around any type of service, digital or not, so that we can spend that time on experiences that we value,’ Joe said.
People usually assume that going digital is going to improve customer experience. However, that is not always the case. A lot of great experiences come from interactions with other people. Indeed, many companies try to eliminate such exchanges by going fully digital without realising that people want to interact and connect with companies and vice versa. Some of these reasons are valid, but more often than not, it’s wasted time because when we try to artificially create these moments they get in the way of daily communication.
A key impetus for it is that it’s going to save companies a lot of money so that we don’t need customer-facing people. Instead of recognising again, that’s where much of the value comes in. When consumers go digital, it doesn’t mean they want less human interaction. In fact, it is the other way around, they want faster and better human interactions.
Moreover, such businesses are very product-centric instead of customer-centric. Instead of understanding the customer and what it is that they’re trying to accomplish right now, they want the customer to follow the journey that they’ve laid out in advance. Then again, that’s not the journey that the customer wants to follow. ‘Perhaps this is happening because businesses have too few people who care about gaining customer insight,’ Joe assumed.
Myth: Building frictionless digital experiences will increase engagement
A smart tool is one that is using data. The data that it learns from you individually to be able to address your needs. So it’s a matter of sensing and responding. Then such a smart tool can understand what it is that customers want at this moment and it can act accordingly. For instance, think of smart thermostats that learn when you get up, or what kind of temperature the home owner likes in the winter.
Myth: Creating more ‘moments’ for customers will lead to more value. In fact, ‘moments’ are fairly product-centric. They’re what we want our customers to do and how we want them to engage with us. Whereas ‘modes’, are what the individual customer wants to accomplish.
What is digital context?
Digital context is just a great term that my co-author of the HBR article, Dave Naughton, came up with. The digital context is really about understanding, ‘What it is that I’m trying to accomplish right now, and it requires access to all of the digital data that is out there that will explain what mode a business can use to enhance its experience in banking or e-shopping, for instance’. The problem with most businesses is that they have no data. And they can’t provide any experience without digital context.
A good example is my client Carnival Corporation. They make good use of digital contexts. The cruise company created a digital tool called the Ocean Medallion. A device that allows them to understand the digital context that you are in while on the cruise ship. They can recognise every individual. Every employee has a tablet with them that when you get close, your device pops your picture and information up so they can greet you by name. It also has past interactions, your itinerary, what you’re trying to do, where you’re going and so forth.
Genius experiences are the ones that understand everything that’s going on. They understand the ecosystem and grab all that digital context to anticipate what mode you’re in and then vastly multiply the number of jobs that it can do for you. That means they customise and individualise to you as well as being responsive.
For example, Alexa or Google Home. They have access to all your information. The genius level is, for instance, when you say ‘Alexa play some music’ they will play music based on what mood you’re in, who you’re with, what time of day it is, what you’re doing and trying to accomplish because it understands all of that.
Although, when we reach these genius experiences, there is always the possibility that people will start to find it as too much and even a little ‘creepy’. For this reason, it is important to resort to genius experiences only when the person wants and how the person wants it done. As opposed to bringing in things that maybe it should not know about the customer until you opt in. At one point it will be necessary to stop and ask yourself whether you still want to continue or make changes. Machines are taking over and it is evident more and more each day, which is why is important to work with them and craft better digital experiences for ourselves as well as our customers.
More on Joe Pine with Visionary Marketing: Experience Economy: Great Experiences Begin with Great Service
Amazon’s Author Joe Pine’s Page here
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