Digital transformation has heralded a new era in business and has radically changed the way organizations operate and deliver value to customers. Technological advancements over the last ten years have fundamentally changed the way brands and consumers interact with each other. In fact, according to a Gartner survey, as many as 89% of companies compete against each other based on customer experience alone.
However, the more interesting part about this change is that it is not the result of the direct marketing efforts of businesses. Rather, it is the consumers that are driving this change. And, as organizations grow more and more aware of this fact, they are leaving no stone unturned in coming up with creative ways to improve customer experience using technology.
What are some of these ways, and how can business leaders leverage them to hold their own in today’s ever-evolving marketplace? As competitors increasingly litter the competitive landscape, it is first essential to understand what digital transformation is and its impact on the technology-conscious customer of today.
What Is Digital Transformation?
Put simply; digital transformation is the reconceptualization of business in the digital age. It transforms conventional roles like marketing, customer service, and sales to provide consumers with a consistent experience always.
The process of digital transformation begins and ends on one note only. That is how you engage and interact with customers. This is to such an extent that when questioned about what led to businesses to put a digital transformation strategy into effect, 50% of all organizations highlighted customer experience and satisfaction as the primary influence.
Given the fact that businesses who manage to transform technologically see a greater number of highly engaged customers, this is not surprising at all. Such customers are also reported to purchase 90% more frequently, pay 60% more per transaction, and have 300% the yearly value in comparison to the typical customer.
It does not end there. According to a recent study by MIT, organizations that enact a digital transformation strategy are 26% more successful than those who don’t.
All of this just goes to show how crucial it is to deliver on consistent customer experience. And, to do so effectively, it is first important to understand the technology conscious customer of today.
The New & Technologically Conscious Customer
It is no secret that digitalization has changed consumer habits and has transformed the way businesses and consumers interact. From handheld devices to apps, automation, AI, machine learning, and more, everyone lives technology today, and this fact has veritably shaped customer expectations.
It is this shift in customer expectations that has resulted in a new, digitally conscious customer that is always connected, app-native, and technologically aware. This modern buyer knows what it wants and usually judges a business on how good of a digital customer experience it provides its users.
This is where digital-first as a medium to help the user realize the benefits of modern technology requires you to reimagine how you should interact with them. The ways to do it are varied and usually happen when traditional business roles like sales, marketing, and customer service are transcended digitally.
In fact, this is where digital-first truly takes root as a novel experience for users. You can use it to reach out to them, build relationships with them, and educate them at the very outset. From social media to forums to review sites, there are a variety of ways that you can be enterprising in a digital-first manner to allure the modern-day buyer.
Technological Innovations and Customer Service: What’s the Connection
“A brand is defined by the customer’s experience. The experience is delivered by the employees.” – Shep Hyken
Customer service agents are the ones who define customer service. In today’s disruptive technological era, customer experience is the one factor that increasingly acts as a differentiator for brands. And as customer expectations soar, businesses need to need to be proactive in their quest to understand customer needs and come up with ways to personalize their journey for them.
This need for personalization is so great that 84% of customers feel being seen as a person, and not a number, is what’s important to winning their business. Tailored engagement based on past interactions can help you win the hearts and wallets of customers and also show that you have the customers’ best interests in mind.
This is where technological innovations like voice-enabled tech, chatbots, and AI can redefine customer service and experience and take them to new heights. It has been predicted that come 2020, 85% of customer interactions with businesses will take place through digital companions.
These digital companions like chatbots can revolutionize customer support by automating answers to routine questions. IBM has estimated that chatbots can freely respond to 80% of frequently asked customer support questions. The time saved here can be effectively utilized by service agents to provide a personalized experience to customers.
The AI-enabled chatbot can also be used to uncover a wealth of information related to the leading cause of customer dissatisfaction. This data can then be used to provide the apt product suggestion or answer to customer questions.
All of this eventually leads to one thing; enhanced and highly personalized customer experience as a direct result of machine learning.
Improved User Experience Through Technology and Automation
Today, as businesses grow more proactive in the pursuit of providing a much more improved user experience, it is the promise and increased adoption of artificial intelligence that can help them do so. In fact, a poll found out that 61 percent of marketers claimed AI to be the most crucial aspect of their overall marketing strategy.
This is to be expected, however. Increasing customer expectations will lead us to a point where providing highly intuitive UX will be the norm. The ways to do this are many. And it all begins with guidance.
Artificial intelligence can be used by businesses to provide expert guidance to their customers who might not know much about a service/product. In a report by Episerver, it was found that even when customers visited with the intent to make a purchase, 32% of them didn’t do so. Why? This is because 98% of prospects were, or continue to be discouraged by incomplete information.
This is where the adoption of AI can help prospects during the research phase by equipping them with expert guidance can work wonders. For example, consider a scenario that involves the expensive purchase of an expensive piece of jewellery having a diamond. This is where an AI-powered algorithm, much like the one ROSI has, can leverage veteran buying expertise and integrate AI processes to create a ‘digital’ diamond expert.
That is not the extent of it, though. Employing AI to improve communication in different areas like site search can massively enhance user experience too. With semantic research powered by AI, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of user intent and help them improve the level of the user experience that they provide.
This kind of ability gives businesses employing AI the edge over their competitors who don’t.
The Internet of Things
While the operational specifics of the technologies used to provide an enhanced customer experience in this digital age vary, their harmonious use is the driving factor behind it. By combining the efficient use of big data, AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT), businesses have been able to transform CX to unprecedented levels. If you have used Amazon Alexa/Echo, Apples Siri, or Google Personal Assistant, you have already experienced this.
However, the real clincher here is IoT. It is aiding organizations in improving their bottom line by providing real-time information to its customers. This 360-degree, ever-evolving view of the product processes and how customers are interacting with it helps businesses do everything from sending automated notifications and alerts to ensuring critical systems are optimally operating.
The extensive data-gathering ability of these connected devices contributes to the efficient use of big data. This data, when correctly leveraged by AI, can make your data work for you by helping you understand the reasons behind individual customer decisions and quickly adjust services to personalize customer experiences at scale.
In today’s digital age, where the modern buyer is more digitally conscious than ever, businesses can’t do without a digital transformation strategy to surpass customer expectations. And if you are among the ones that haven’t done so already, it is high time you did so.
Technological transformation across different layers affords organizations the opportunity to correctly anticipate the needs of modern buyers and provide them with seamless, digital-first customer experience. According to a report by Gartner, the enterprise and automotive Internet of Things (IoT) market will grow to 5.8 billion endpoints in 2020, a 21% increase from 2019. These connected endpoints will create opportunities for businesses to take customer experience to whole new levels courtesy of technological advancements in the field of AI, IoT, and big data.
What do you think about all of this? Tell us your views in the comments section below.
6 tips to not go crazy in your home office
Because of the current coronavirus situation a lot of people, including me, left their offices on a Friday and BOOM!! Started working from home on a Monday!! However for people with ADHD like me can often feel overwhelmed on the fact of being completely isolated.
Here are 6 tips to avoid going crazy in your home office:
#1 Suit Up
Sounds simple but it helps a lot with your motivation. This is all a mental game letting your mind know you still have a routine to follow. I know wearing your jammies is tempting. DONT DO IT! Dress as you would for work.
#2 Stick to Your Working Hours
This is a very important rule to NOT overdoing work. People tend to work more when working from home. Avoid that BURNOUT. Lock in your 8 hours of sleep.
#3 Work in a Dedicated Space
It is tempting to work in your bed. DONT DO IT! Try to work in a separate room with no TV and yes, NO NETFLIX!! If you leave your room you are out of your “office”. This helps seperate your work from your free time.
#4 Limit Distractions
Like I said before, This ain’t no Netflix and chill!! Put that phone on vibrate turn off that gaming console and TV OFF!!
#5 Be Transparent
Your colleagues don’t know what your up to . Make sure to keep them up to date about what your working on.
#6 Stay Active
Try to exercise during the day! The daily walks to the coffee machine and the conference room are GONE! Try to compensate this with exercise.
These are tough times for many of us. I know going to happy hour and hanging out at starbucks are both very tempting and very missed but lets do our thing to kick this virus in the ass!! Stay home and stay safe.
The Many Hats of User Experience
User experience sure has become the most essential weapon in everyones digital team or product. In my last article I covered why ux is important for your business, but many people have the misconception that User Experience is done only by ONE person, when in reality we user experience designers wear MANY hats, which I personally love.
We cover bases such as design, psychology and research which makes my day to day work completely different from the one before. In some cases having a one man band might be true with the exception of unicorn designers (overly talented wizards that can do it all from design to coding) which are very rare.
But personally I wouldn’t recommend giving one person all the work as with all the overload in responsibilities, the quality of your product could be affected, but we all know there’s many penny-pincher companies out there who like to save on costs bringing in someone that could be the man (or woman)THAT DOES IT ALL!!. However in reality user experience is in fact a TEAM effort meaning there’s usually more then one person involved on making sure your company or app has a rockstar user experience. But being a UX Designer makes you a jack-of-all-trades almost by default. As a field we’re broken up into several specialisms. As our industry advances these only get more complex.
So who are the people that are involved in a user experience team and what do they do?
There’s a lot of debate around how these specialisms are classified. Personally, I like to break UX down into five main areas :
- User research.
- Information architecture.
- Interaction design.
- UI design
- Content strategy.
Some organizations will actually treat these as distinct jobs and hire for them individually. This is particularly true with larger businesses, where multiple UX designers are needed on a single project. But like I mentioned before this varies from business to business. In many cases us ux designers switch between these roles over the course of a single project.
What are the specialisms of UX?
A user researcher gathers the insight to drive decision making in our project. Rather than creating the ‘what’, they instead focus on the ‘why’. There are loads of research methods than can be drawn upon, both quantitative and qualitative. These all go into informing the solution, and defining user requirements for a new project.
When taking on the user researcher role, the main responsibilities include :
- Workshops and interviews.
- User testing sessions.
- Analytics data and ethnographic research.
- Creating user personas & requirements.
An information architect looks at the product from a birds-eye view, understanding how content links together. They’ll piece together how users move through the flows in a site or app, without getting bogged down in the minute details of UI.
When taking on the information architect role, the main responsibilities include:
- Planning user flows.
- Creating sitemaps and data models.
- Defining navigation, taxonomies and other content classifications.
A content strategist creates the guidelines for how information is communicated through the website or app. They make sure the output we give to the user is easy to understand, consistent and generally fit-for-purpose.
When taking on the content strategist role, the main responsibilities include:
- Planning of key content themes & topics.
- Content structure & templates.
- Content style & presentation guidelines.
An interaction designer plans how users will interact with the system. They’ll translate the high-level flows defined in the information architecture & content strategy into more detailed screen layouts, usually in the form of wireframes.
When taking on the interaction designer role, the main responsibilities include:
- Wireframing & early prototyping.
- Interaction guidelines and UI patterns.
- Functional documentation.
A UI designer brings the interface to life by applying a brand’s ‘look and feel’ to the system. They’re responsible for creating the visual language for a site or app, and generally ensuring that it looks awesome.
When taking on the UI designer role, the main responsibilities include :
- Realistic page mock-ups.
- High fidelity prototypes.
- Style guides.
Now that you know all the many hats of ux design, what are you waiting for to bring in UX Designers to your current dev team? If you liked this article make sure you follow me on linked in and instagram for more!! What other topics would you like me to cover? Shoot me a message.
AI: The Solution to Employee Stress
Work and stress — the two have become synonymous.
You’d be hard-pressed to meet an American worker in today’s business landscape who wasn’t. I get stressed out, so do you, and so do the greats of every industry. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, describes stress as an emotional rollercoaster where you flip-flop from a day when “you are euphorically convinced you are going to own the world, to a day in which doom seems only weeks away and you feel completely ruined, and back again.” Elon Musk equates stress to “chewing glass and staring into the abyss.”
The point is, stress is imminent. It doesn’t care where you work or how much money you make, you’re working in the country with the most stressed workers in the world. The global average is around 35 percent, but Americans register at around 55 percent. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Today’s dog-eat-dog business landscape breeds companies that believe you can weed out top talent by putting such high pressure on employees that only the most competent will stay. Basically, survival of the fittest.
But stress has sobering consequences. One million people miss work every day, citing stress as the reason. And this doesn’t only affect employees, either. Absenteeism costs companies up to $300 million a year. Being under constant pressure to live up to high performance standards doesn’t separate the overachievers from the underachievers, it slowly corrodes the abilities of your most skilled staff members.
When your employees are too stressed, they pay for it, but so do you. As companies figure out how to run leaner and more efficiently, it’s also important that they continue to implement internal methods to curb increasing stress levels. Appster, for example, will fund their employees’ after-work outings every so often and companies like Google offer in-house mindfulness courses so employees can meditate during the workday. Other tactics like flexible working hours and employee-assistance programs are valuable, but we now have unfettered access to the perks of technology, so why not tap that market too?
Artificial intelligence isn’t the office bad guy; it’s not there to threaten your job security or compromise your privacy. It’s assumed that AI will dehumanize the workplace, but I would argue that it does the opposite. When we use artificial intelligence intentionally, we make the workplace human again.
Automating the mundane and menial
As company’s have begun gradually introducing technology into their operations, we’ve become familiar with how automation can save both time and money. Repetitive and seemingly inconsequential tasks will always be a part of the job, but now employees don’t have to be the ones to support these daily duties — and who isn’t excited about being able to use their brainpower elsewhere?
Many businesses choose to start with chatbots because their benefits are overt and pervasive across every industry. These automated messaging platforms intercept tasks such as filling out documentation and replacing simple customer service requests so employees can focus on what AI can’t automate, like creative strategy and important decision-making. Another great use of automation is Feebi, a chatbot that can field 90 percent of common restaurant questions, like what your hours are or what’s currently on the menu. Your employees don’t need to be bogged down with these incessant, unimportant tasks.
Create their in-office ‘happy place’
Company culture is more than just the relationships between team members, it’s also about the environment you create. Think about it: who wants to come into a cluttered, dirty, bare-walled office every single day? We spend more time at work than we do our own homes, so it’s important to incorporate the same elements in a workspace that you would want to surround yourself with at home — more natural light, vegetation, etc.
There are automated sensors you can build into your workplace that can analyze a certain employee’s mood and assess whether or not adjusting environmental conditions could directly enhance their productivity and happiness levels. There are smart temperature controls that can automatically change the temperature of an employee’s office to their preferred comfort level and there are automated systems that can even water your office plants for you (yes, plants play a vital role in elevating employees’ moods).
Wearables such as Fitbits have been around for quite some time now and are renowned for their ability to accurately track your health and fitness data. So, why not have something similar for the office? AI-enabled tools can monitor an employee’s emotions and behavior and watch for signs of stress, anxiety, and even depression.
Cogito is a platform that can listen to sales and service calls and offer feedback on the interaction. Not only does Cogito guide you with real-time advice on how to improve your calls, but it can also identify stressed customer service agents that could be on the verge of burnout. Affectiva, a ride-sharing service, can do the same for their drivers, assessing facial expressions for emotional cues like anger or anxiety.
Employees are often too afraid to come forward when they are under too much stress because the business landscape has taught them that they are easily replaceable. Leaders are often so preoccupied with their own schedules that they rarely see signs of stress before it’s too late. Don’t let human error support stressful working conditions. Instead, let AI give us our happiness back.
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