As our preferences keep changing, technology can help our favourite brands keep up with us. When we give the companies we know and trust access to our purchase history with them, notifications when we enter their stores, and updates on our interests and plans, they can use that information to serve us better.
Adding value to the customer experience or creating annoyances
For example, retailers that use EngageCX’s technology can deliver information about their customers’ latest web visits to a sales associate when that customer shows up in the store. Of course, this doesn’t surprise the customer or appear creepy because they’ve opted into a special service program that promises them better recommendations, merchandise at-the-ready in-store, and access to other special services.
At the other end of the service spectrum, some brands are using technology not to make experiences more intelligent, efficient, and valuable for their customers, but solely to sell them more.
They use the information their customers share (or the information they can glean without asking) to push more offers to them whether they are personalised or not and whether they create interruptions or not. Instead of adding value for their customers, they create annoyances and disruptions and end up detracting from their own brand.
For example, you’ve probably been in a store recently to redeem a great offer only to get stuck at check out while the cashier calls for help via their headset to find out what buttons to push…while you—and the people behind you—are left to wait. And wait.
The attractive offer which started out as a cool idea in some marketer’s head as a way to reward/win customers, has, in practice, turned into just the opposite—a reason not to come back.
Brands, in my opinion, should use technology and the principles of Intelligent Experience to serve their customers before they sell to them.
The principles of Intelligent Experience
The principles of Intelligent Experience (based on design thinking principles) can help you develop better, lower-effort, higher-delight experiences that are more profitable at the same time.
Customer interactions based on the principles of Intelligent Experience design can:
Including who is present, the location, the date/time, the customer’s intent, and the situation gathered from a variety of technologies or direct input.
Basing service decisions on this information translates to experiences that feel more natural, helpful, and personalized to customers. For example, suppose in a hospital setting you could tell who is in a room with a patient, what time it is, and what the patient’s care plan is.
When a nurse comes in to check vitals, his or her tablet adjusts to show personalised information about that patient such as latest vitals, any new doctor’s orders, etc. In this scenario, spending less time digging through charts dozens of times a day means that the nurse can spend higher quality time with the patient and everyone will feel less rushed.
Knowing sooner what people want yields a better experience at lower cost.
Anticipation is “calculated” from personal experience, analysis of previous patterns, and expectations about change. Using retail again, suppose your intelligent experience system (cloud-based sensors and algorithms that act on the data presented) ‘notice’ a customer in your store hanging around the big screen smart TVs and the system ‘notices’ that there isn’t a salesperson in the area.
A rep can be automatically alerted to head over to help them. The system might also push an on-screen dialogue to the screen of the device the customer is looking at to help guide them in the meantime. Of course, whatever the customer shares back can be delivered to the sales rep’s tablet, so that when he or she approaches the customer, the customer will be able to get personalised product options, accessories, reviews, and shipping options from them.
Apply mid-experience feedback from customers and employees to improving the experience right away.
There are two parts to this characteristic. Adaptation requires careful listening to customers’ unmet needs and it implies that the company can actually change itself to be better able to deliver what customers want most. Service design and adaptive business design are two toolsets that help accomplish this.
VOC Systems offers a solution in this space. Hotel guests are encouraged to leave a voice mail message for the hotel’s general manager. Within minutes, this web service electronically transcribes the digital audio file into text, then a human reviews it for accuracy, codes it for emotion, and forwards specific instructions to the manager on duty concerning issues that need immediate attention.
“My air conditioning doesn’t work” goes to the maintenance team leader. “The service in the restaurant at breakfast was amazing. Jenni really cheered our family up!” goes to the food and beverage manager and so on. A copy of the comment goes to the cloud and workflow features help track each request to completion while the hotel guest is still on property.
Changing presentation, tone, color, and language to best match each participant’s preferences and sensibilities.
Intelligent experiences don’t only use the data around them to save time and help interactions happen more efficiently, they introduce adjustments to those interactions that people perceive as being respectful of them, their cultures, and their preferences.
Using Mrs. or Ms. depending on a client’s previous usage is one very simple example. Not assuming that a Muslim hotel guest wants lunch during Ramadan, the worldwide fasting month takes things to an entirely different level.
Report on itself:
So that each subsequent experiences improve in quality at lower effort and cost levels.
Truly intelligent experiences learn from their own history with clients, employees, and with other business systems. Designed heuristically (with learning loops built in), they get smarter over time. Estimote makes iBeacons (small sensor devices that supply context information for at a small range, typically from 1-3 meters).
An example of their ability to interact intelligently with their surrounds is the use case of using a beacon and an API (application programming interfaces) to automatically adjust your alarm clock based on what meetings you have and how much traffic is on the road between where you are sleeping and where you are headed in the morning. This kind of tech tracks many micro decisions and takes care of the details so you don’t have to.
Going back to the attractive marketing idea…had the marketer thought through the customer’s experience, step by step, using the principles of Intelligent Experiences before launching the promotion, he or she might have anticipated many challenges and designed around them so that everyone would get a better experience.
Intelligent Experiences are better experiences. They use the information around them as context to guide people and organisations to serve with greater delight, accuracy, simplicity, and profitability.
Mike Wittenstein - Founder and Managing Principal, Storyminers
Mike Wittenstein is the founder and managing principal at Storyminers, an experience, service, and business design consultancy doing work for service brands. By his own admission, he is a designer who can’t draw. He’s also a world-class expert on experience, service, and business design, who has helped over 400 organizations in 25+ countries make their experiences better—to the tune of $1.5B in value created.