2018 Will Be the Year of Experience

In 2018, Data Will Put the Human Back into Human Experience – Part 1

In this article, Part 1 of the latest in his series exclusive to Data Makes Possible, Dr. Kirk Borne, Principal Data Scientist for Booz Allen Hamilton, explains the importance and value proposition of improving the human experience in the digital enterprise, and why the year of experience must include customers, end-users, employees, and any other stakeholders.

The Message is in the Madness

A few years ago, I heard someone describe their data product in this way: “analytics at the speed of your business.” Well, no disrespect intended, but I think they got the message backwards. Why? Because business is no longer able to keep up with the flood of data that is coming in, from forces and sources everywhere: social, mobile, internet, intranet, images, video, audio, and documents. Consequently, what you really need is business at the speed of your data! Building and maintaining that can actually be quite hard. But you can do something about it.

The first “something” that you must do is to realize that your stakeholders are also moving at the same rapid pace. This means that even small moves can have huge impacts: the behavioral economics folks call that a “nudge”. In fact, big moves are scarier when you’re moving fast. Small moves (nudges) are preferred and are also more effective!

The second thing that you can do is to tap into the digital data streams that are emanating from your stakeholders to learn how to make the small impactful moves that will make their life experience more engaging, more efficient, and more effective – at that place, in the moment and in their current context!

Experiences Good, Bad & Great 

Very few people need to buy newspapers or encyclopedias anymore. You can create similarly generic non-targeted information products and services even in digital format, but that won’t guarantee that users will come to your site. People prefer, and often demand, targeted, personalized information and products that meet their specific needs, at a specific time and location, and in the right context. That’s the dream experience for your stakeholders!

A Toast to 2018, the Year of Experience! – Part 1

Good experience will attract customers, users, and employees to your products, services, and business. Bad experience will repel them. That’s basic physics! Great experience will make them loyal fans and your advocates in the marketplace. Not only will users come, but they will bring others with them.

We frequently hear phrases like User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (CX) in conversations around digital disruption and business transformation. We should also be including Employee Experience (EX) in those discussions. The (user, customer, employee) journey is also discussed in these same contexts. The new data analytics discipline of Journey Sciences, pioneered by ClickFox, has emerged to make the corresponding process and its application more scientific. In addition, the healthcare industry is referring more and more to the importance of patient journey and patient experience.

The ABC’s of the Year of Experience

 The focus on Experience seems to be everywhere now. We might even call 2018 the Year of the Experience Economy, or simply the Year of Experience. Personalized experiences are shaping business interactions with stakeholders by changing the expectations of those stakeholders and customer communities. To retain, delight, and build advocacy within your stakeholder audiences, the focus on Experience is critical. We will highlight a few examples in this article. Each of these examples will be specific to one of these categories (UX, EX, or CX), but each example can be generalized and applied more broadly to other digital stakeholders across your enterprise.

Consequently, we may not actually be documenting the ABC’s of Experience, but rather the UEC’s of Experience (UX, EX, and CX)! In any case, we will see how data makes possible more helpful, engaging, and delightful experiences for all your stakeholders.

(1) UX and the Empathy Equation: Knowing and understanding how someone feels, that’s empathy. Detecting, measuring, and responding to your stakeholders’ sentiment is empathetic. Empathy elicits positive sentiment and positive experience. Empathy is amplified through human-centered design. Design thinking therefore must be a cornerstone of your digital experience development process – it is human-centric, data-informed, and friction-reducing for your digital users. Find the slow spots (the moments of “bad experience”) by exploring and analyzing the user data trails.

A Toast to 2018, the Year of Experience! – Part 1

Remember another law of physics – the law of inertia: that which is in motion will stay in motion, and that which is at rest will stay at rest. Therefore, aim to keep your user moving forward. If they reach a stopping point or a point of increased friction, they may leave altogether.

Data makes possible a better UX: data is the input, analytics is the lever, and positive UX should be the outcome. Always remember this aphorism: the wheels of progress are not turned by cranks! Negative UX puts the brakes (real friction) on your business progress.

(2) EX and the New AI: The new A.I. is augmented (or assisted) intelligence. For example, customer call center personnel are so much happier when solving the interesting hard problems, rather than answering frequently asked questions. Conversational bots are one of the hottest technologies in the AI marketplace right now. Surveys show that over 50% of consumers prefer to talk to a customer service bot for simple questions and requests. That makes sense for the consumer and also for the employee – the consumer doesn’t want to wait “on hold” for 10, 20, or 30 minutes just to get a simple question answered (even a specific question about their personal account), and the customer service representative doesn’t need (or want) to answer that kind of non-challenging question anyway.

EX is not just for customer service folks, but for any employee in your organization. Creating engaging employee experiences may include online discussion groups, training programs, customized and personalized company newsletters, and more.

Data makes possible a better EX: by exploring and analyzing the data sources that tell which employees are opening newsletters, reading specific emails, performing certain tasks, or visiting company portals, you will discover where, when, and how to personalize the content and improve the job experience for each employee.

(3) CX and the Knowledge Graph: Knowing what a customer is searching for, which choices are most relevant to that individual, how to spice it up with unexpected results, and how it relates to other things that the customer already knows is pure gold. Just look at the major Internet search companies today: they don’t sell their services to their primary consumers, yet they are some of the largest revenue-generating firms in the known universe. Sure, there is some really interesting mathematics (actually, linear algebra) behind the curtain, but their success stories are primarily about delivering personalized knowledge and human-centered meaning. Call it semantics, or the knowledge graph, or linked data, or whatever – that is the engine, but it’s not the reason.

And now, we are seeing the birth of hyper-personalization as a hot new trend in CX. But, that will be a useless exercise if the experience is not helpful, relevant, surprising, and engaging. The semantic connections between persons, places, and things in the knowledge graph reveal the “who, what, when, where, and how” of reaching your customer in engaging ways that go beyond “same product” recommendations: “people who bought this refrigerator also bought this refrigerator.” Really?

Data makes possible a better CX: by exploring and exploiting the knowledge graph of products, services, and content within your business domain, you will help enrich the experience of each customer (amplifying their own productivity and effectiveness) in such a way that they should return again and again!

In the second part of The Year of Experience, Dr. Borne will dive into mobile device experience, explore the culture of experimentation, and discuss his “5 E’s of Experience.” Meanwhile, take the conversation to Twitter! Agree or disagree with Kirk’s thoughts on user, customer, or employee experience? Want to tell us your story? Tweet @KirkDBorne using the hashtag #datamakespossible right now!

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