Technology is here to solve our challenges, not the other way round.
Reliance on technology doesn’t necessarily answer the need to solve problems from a human perspective.
It can be tempting that the answer lies in an app or creating a new website, but being customer-focused is part of doing business right, it just should be.
At ExperienceUX our remit is to assess and blueprint the usability and experiences of products and services. We have seen a vast spectrum of examples that represent fantastic, and also weak, experiences. Ali Carmichael, Experience UX MD, recognises that to keep things simple, it is vital to understand how we get from A to B and never forget the people who interact and with whom businesses serve.
Ali says, “The journeys we have as users and customers should not be complex, but they are here to test us. For instance, I frequently use Eventbrite, but it is a poor experience for the end-user. Users want to attend events, however, they struggle through by leaving their details several times and going backwards and forwards from screen to screen. It doesn’t have to be like this and the customer journey has to be assessed.”
“I still believe we can build a culture where businesses focus on people first, and we look to demonstrate that this, in turn, will result in business success.”
Time To Lead
With many decisions to deliver and tech to support, Ali believes that companies can now lead by their own example. He states, “Problems happen when we begin to duplicate what is already out there. During a recent business conversation, a company enquired for us to assess the market leader, so they could effectively duplicate what they are doing. Our remit is to provide strong user experiences, not assume the market leader has got it right (there will always be ways to improve on the market leader’s user experience). This company wanted to copy, not to deliver a better experience. Needless to say, we did not progress the conversation.”
“The reason I am highlighting the importance to lead is that businesses have a responsibility to assess the experience from a customer’s perspective, and then make adjustments, or redesigns, to help the end-user, regardless of what the competition is doing. There has never been a more critical time to assess the ‘now’.
Where Do We Forget People?
Experiences can be created, managed, scaled, promoted and measured. They represent a huge opportunity for businesses that go against the grain of time restrictions and confusing messages.
Ali says, “The culture of a minimal viable product (a version with just enough features to satisfy early customers) isn’t necessarily helping. The reason is that there are more delays than the other option of a full experience from the start. A recent example is the roll out the NHS Track & Trace. To me, this represents the importance of tech, but not necessarily thinking about the people using the app.”
“Timing was of the essence and it was great to see the rollout so quickly. But when you are told you need a test, to then find and book a test is confusing. You quickly see that one part of the process had the budget and all the focus, but the full customer experience was not considered.
The tech and release was the priority, but the testing and processes could have included and tied into getting a test process. Instead, people used the app, being told they need a test, then having to sit on a website browser refreshing the page throughout the day hoping a slot opens at a relatively local test centre. Not everyone can do this.”
What We All Need To Be Aware Of
There is no denying we have created a reactive nature of life where the world moves at such a fast pace.
Technology is driving us forward and it is extremely exciting, but there seems less time for stepping back and taking time to find balance. How do we address this? Ali says, “We need to understand that the impact of letting tech take the lead is that we risk missing a medium and long term perspective. Sometimes it is better to pause before we jump straight into projects without planning for the bigger picture.”
There is strength in just finding the moments to slow down and reflect our intentions. Ali states, “Taking a breath to assess a situation and allow our intuition and intelligence to guide us can encourage better practice and decisions. I like to read Agatha Christie and the great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. He liked to stop, build pyramids with a pack of cards, and use his “little grey cells.” I think we all need a bit of this approach on a day to day basis. It is important to make time for this.
This is often left to the business leaders to instill, but I think everyone needs some of this in their working life, to help make decisions that are best for the bigger picture. Not just the case in hand.”
Our adoption of technology presents a future of opportunity and potential. Let’s also not forget the strategic direction for our businesses and the creation of value for our customers and users.
Ali concludes. “We are surrounded by hope. Many organisations are genuinely trying to run their businesses better, which we can see with the growth of B-Corp and The Triple Bottom Line. There is a growing movement around the future of the workplace, and improving employee lives. I think we’ll soon start to see a push back on those that aren’t making the right choices.”
We all have a responsibility, the future involves tech at the forefront for us all, but we cannot forget the hands that create, the minds that deliberate and the interaction with each other that becomes the glue for us all to feel a part of something.