Continuous customer experience — service designing

Clayton M. Christensen, one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth, in his book – Competing Against Luck elaborates on why some companies excel at satisfying customer needs while others fail. He calls it the “Jobs to be done theory” which essentially is a means to identify customer needs and build products and service around those needs, instead of pushing a product and expecting the customer to fall for the bait. Customers want a certain product or service to solve a void in their lives and if the product/service not only fills that gap but also resolves multiple other needs and adds value, then even better.

Enhancing the customer experience requires organisations to understand different service interactions that customers experience and the potential for value addition within the same. The product/service provider should not confine their design thinking to their immediate customer but also envision the needs of the extended customer, the consumer of the customer (B2B2C). A seamless customer experience entails identifying the gaps in the customer needs across the touch-points and connecting the dots. Most of the times customers perceive the gaps in the services when they are handed from one division to another, within an organisation, making the behind the scene silos obvious.

Customer journey landscape

Creating continuous or seamless customer experiences should begin with journey maps centered around the journey the customers indulge in while navigating through interactions and touch-points, across multiple devices. A customer journey is never a linear path as the way customers engage with a product or service can be manifold. Charting the fragments of the journey on a single map, makes it easier to design the entire landscape including the front and backstage bits of the customer journey. A well researched concept plotted as journey map leads to ideation which can be refined in iterations culminating in service blueprints. Every part of the journey map jointly contributes to the entire customer experience. Tech enabled business innovation can enhance each customer interaction to yield a holistic contented experience.

Tech enabled touch points — The use of blockchain in supply-chain not only prevents fraud but could aid the customer experience in terms of story telling or driving sustainability where customers can trace the fair trade ecological sourcing of products. Smart labels and smart tags on wine bottlesand clothes aid the B2B customers with supply-chain and logistics Analytics while making the end user’s experience smarter with IoT solutions. The consumer shopping for a piece of clothing can continue to remain engaged with the service provider by engaging with the smart wardrobe apps that allow refurbishing or recycling the garments, suggest new trends based on the consumer’s preferences, help in maintaining an inventory of the wardrobe. The challenge, however, for the service provider is to be able to gather product/service usage data and provide AI driven services within the realms of data privacy and compliance. The understanding of patterns or deviations in the patterns of the product usage leads to innovating new products or services or business models like a contractual business model or partnerships with other service providers, which jointly make a service appealing, cementing the discontinuities. The tech know-how enables the design execution but the prelude is visualizing stories as part of the customer journey map.

New business models that cater to both B2B and B2C customers using data driven approaches to enhance customer experience

It is important to consider loss aversion and recyclability while designing products/services. As more and more people embrace minimalism as a way of life, sales figures dwindle. Refurbishing, recycling or donating to charity, as mentioned in the circular economy should also be considered as part of the product/service design as the number of environment conscious consumers rises.

To serve the customers a non-fragmented customer experience fueled by design thinking at every interaction demands a robust ecosystem of business acumen, big data solutions, IoT, augmented reality and blockchain implementations, actionable insights and KPIs, abolishing organisational silos and an ambidextrous leadership. Designing the front and backstage touch points that support the journey by orchestrating connections across the different interaction points with a service design mindset delights the customer by hitting the spot!

Intelligence Of Things

IoT
IoT

IoT – Internet of things, is the science of an interconnected everyday life through devices communicating over WiFi, cellular, ZigBee, Bluetooth, and other wireless, wired protocols, RFID (radio frequency identification), sensors and smartphones. Data monetization has lead to generating revenue by gathering, analyzing customer data, industrial data, web logs from traditional IT systems, online stream, mobile devices and sensors and an interconnection of them all, in other words, IoT. IoT is hailed as the new way to transform  the education sector, retail, customer care, logistics, supply chain and health care. IoT and data monetization have a domino effect on each other which generate actionable insights for business metrics, transformation and further innovation.

The wearable devices are a great way to keep tab on patient heart rates, step counts, calories consumed and burnt. The data gathered from such devices are not only beneficial for checking vital signs but also can be used to scrutinize effectiveness of drug trials, analyzing the causes behind the way body reacts to different stimulus. IoT in logistics, by reading the bar codes at every touch point that track the delivery of products, comparing the estimated with the actual time of delivery, analyzing the reasons causing the difference can help businesses bolster better processes. In Smart buildings, HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), electric meters, security alarm data are integrated, analyzed to monitor building security, improve operational efficiencies, reducing energy consumption and improving occupant experiences.

IoT is expected to generate large amounts of data from varied sources  with a high volume and very high-velocity, thereby increasing the need to better index, store and process such data. Earlier the data gathered from each of the sources was analyzed in a central hub and communicated to other devices, but the IoT brings a new dimension called the M2M (machine to machine) communication. The highlights of such M2M platforms are

  • Improved device connectivity
  • API, JSON, RDF/XML integration availability for data exchange
  • Flexible to be able to capture all formats of data
  • Data Scalability
  • Data security across multiple protocols
  • Real-time data management – On premise, cloud or hybrid platforms
  • Low TCO (total cost of ownership)

The data flow for an end-to-end IoT usecase entails capturing sensor-based data using SPARQL for RDF encoded data from different devices, wearables into a common data platform to be standardised, processed, analyzed and communicated further as dashboards, insights, as input to some other device or for continuous business growth and transformation. Splunk, Amazon, Axeda are some of the M2M platform vendors that provide end to end connectivity of multiple devices, data security and realtime data storage and mining advantages. Data security is another important aspect of IoT, adhering to data retention policies. As IoT evolves, so will the interconnectivity of machine-to-machine platforms, exciting times ahead!