Adopting a user-centred, data-driven approach to digital. Part 1: why does it matter?

Author: Ash Mann

At Substrakt we try to put the user at the heart of everything we do. We believe that’s how you get the best results, for your organisation and your audiences. But we also recognise it’s not always an easy shift to make (and make stick).

In this series of articles our Strategic Director, Ash outlines why digital experiences are important, what makes a good digital experience and how you can make your organisation more user-centric.

Not only are people spending an ever increasing amount of time online, they’re spending an ever increasing amount of money whilst they do so.

The (frankly terrifying) finding that “the UK now spends more time online each day than sleeping” (Ofcom, 2016) only serves to underline this. And this time spent online isn’t idle, people are spending money, digital transactions on Cyber Monday 2017 reached a record $6.59 billion” (CNBC, 2017) – that $6.59bn spend (a 17% increase on 2016) included over $2bn being spent on mobile.

So people are spending more time and money online than ever before. Can you afford not to focus on that experience?

Digital experiences are broken and fragmented

All too often we all encounter digital experience that are, frankly, broken.

Whether that manifests itself in irrelevant, annoying marketing emails, bad web experiences, inconsistent information, slow and clunky e-commerce platforms or poor customer service via social media it is doing you and your customers harm.

A customer does not differentiate between ringing you, emailing you, visiting your website, visiting your venue, attending a performance, talking to you or about you on social media or seeing a poster. As far as they are concerned all of these are aspects of your organisation, they don’t think “I was interacting with the box office, then marketing, then front of house and the artistic team, then the comms team”

The customer experience is not limited to the event they attend, it starts far before then, and extends long afterwards. In order to provide the best customer experience and for that customer to have the most beneficial relationship with you (for both you and them) that needs to be recognised.

No one department or team ‘owns’ the customer experience, the customer’s experience is made up of so many elements – that involve so many people – across so many separate time periods and interactions – that it would be a nonsense to claim that the customer’s experience resides within any one part of the business.

It is unrealistic to expect any one person to have oversight of all of that. It may be worth considering a ‘board’-like approach to customer experience. This ‘customer/user experience board’ would reflect every part of the business that impacts the customer experience (online and offline) – this will involve a lot of people but where we have seen this approach adopted the positive impact on the customer experience, and the increase in the organisational understanding of that experience, has been noticeable.

Why should I care?

Customer-centric, user-centred, data-driven, a holistic, joined-up approach – these all sound like nice things, but where’s the business value, why should you care and disrupt the way you’re doing business?

The fact is, you can’t afford not to.

In an ever more connected world, with ever-rising customer expectations around service and experience you need to be providing great, consistent experiences for your customers in every interaction they have with you, every time. Whether that’s buying a ticket, seeing a show, commenting on an Instagram post or simply asking about opening times via Facebook.

A few stats:

  • Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain. (Esteban Kolsky, 2016)
  • 91% of unhappy customers who are non-complainers simply leave. (Esteban Kolsky, 2016)
  • 65% of respondents reported that a single bad customer experience is enough for them to swear off a brand, even if they really value its products. (Lithium Technologies, 2017)

And whilst it may seem like more work, or different work, or a pain in the arse, the reality is it’s a cost-effective approach.

Keep the customers you have, and keep them happy, and you have to spend less time chasing new ones (it is 6-7x more expensive for companies to attract new customers than to keep existing customers – Harvard Business Review, 2014).

The tolerance levels that customers have with digital experiences are magnitudes smaller than those involved in ‘real world’ interactions (Shep Hyken, 2016). Sitting in front of a screen turns most of us into short-tempered, easily distracted, psychopathic toddlers. One bad experience and that’s usually it.

Part 2 of this series will look at what makes a good digital experience.