Service design should create a positive and cohesive experience

At Sopra Steria we create digital experiences that people choose to use. Service design is thinking about a holistic experience, engaging with the user at various different touch points and ensuring it’s not just seamless but meaningful too.

Understanding the changing market environment, analysing customer behaviour and how the customer will use and experience different services, we can gather insight that enables our digital teams to develop effective and innovative ways to engage with the customer. Our innovative thinking is nimble and we want to make sure our customers get the best competitive advantage when it comes to creating and building solutions.

Technology can provide the tools at every touch point, providing lean customer centric experiences. Such tech services can range from mobile and tablet devices that allow the user to interact with a service without the need for staff, or wearable tech that can personalise data and content just as they enter a certain location. Whatever the tech solution, understanding how and why the customer will use the service in context will ensure that the service connects on a visceral level.

Intrinsically motivating the customer creates loyalty and trust to a service or brand. Bringing the data and the tech together means that we can deliver a service that is enjoyable for the customer. So when we want to be innovative with our thinking and quickly respond to market trends, the customer trusts us and sees value in the service we are providing.

This is why I believe it’s not just about the product or the great piece of tech, it’s about the process. Whether the business goal is to save operational costs, support customer retention or enable staff to solve problems more effectively, the end result is simple – to create a positive and cohesive experience for the customer and the employee.

How do we even begin to ensure the process is right? Collaboration…

Have you got your digital transformation strategy defined?

Digital transformation strategy is about enabling enterprise and embracing digital disruptions to evolve new digital business models.

In the digital business ecosystem, there are technovators (technology innovators) who research and innovate disruptive technologies, and there are biznovators (business innovators) who evolve new digital business models. Biznovators leverage technology disruptions such as drone-based delivery or aerial photography and video surveillance, use 3D printers to enable customers to order tailor-made products to their liking or health scientists to print 3D vertebra for corrective spine surgery in humans.

These new digital business models leverage the Nexus of Forces, help enterprises achieve competitive advantage and are recognised as the leaders in technology-led business innovations. For new digital business models to succeed, the DNA of the enterprise needs to change to be able to support the flux of operations triggered by the mix of traditional business models and new digital business models.

Take the case of Amazon and Dominos who might use drones to deliver supplies to customers. While this does not replace the existing delivery model that has been their core business model, the new digital business model opens upa new market segment and an expanded customer base. To achieve the desired business velocity, organisations would have to adopt a bimodal strategy where they continue to support the core business model with existing IT, whilst they evolve lean and agile operations leveraging digital disruptions to enable and support new digital business models.

This bimodal strategy applies to enterprises that want to take on the digital transformation roadmap including the IT service providers who play a major role in helping enterprises with their digital transformation. As IT service providers continue to support enterprises to manage and maintain their existing business models and operations, they will have to develop a parallel IT ecosystem consisting of the young turk technocrats and digital strategists to help customers’ CMOs and CIOs adapt and adopt disruptive technologies to evolve new digital business models leveraging the Nexus of Forces.

The bimodal strategy should only be a tactical approach for the near-term with the long-term objective being convergence of the existing operations and IT with the new lean and agile IT. This will help enterprises to streamline their bottom line with unified operations that are capable of supporting the coexistence of both business models to continuously improve and expand the top line.

To get started, enterprises need to assess where they rank in the digital maturity model and think about their digital business growth.

Dawn of the Utility Triple Play?

With the fast approaching water retail competition for business customers coming to fruition in April 2017 a number of interesting dynamics are potentially going to materialise. Notwithstanding the initial challenges all the existing water companies will have to grapple and come to terms with around transforming their businesses in anticipation of market go live, one key dynamic will be new entrants into the market.

New market entrants, who potentially could be waiting in the wings? Who might be investigating moving into the water retail market? Straight away certain sectors spring to mind who are already operating in these types of market space, and as such already have much of the required infrastructure in place and understand the dynamics of how to successfully operate in these competitive market spaces. Typically, companies in the electricity and gas retail space along with telco operators, who would appear to be the likeliest new players?

As if to validate this point, Ecotricity, although ruling themselves out of entering the water retail space, for now, citing their requirement to concentrate on their core energy business, does illustrate the point that new market entrants are giving consideration to entering the new water retail market.

In light of these potential new entrants, and more importantly the areas they already operate in, could we see, what up to now has been a typical telco space offering, the ‘triple play’ (ie video, voice & data)? Could we see a new entrant to the market who offers a utility triple play of electricity, gas and now water to business customers as a bundled service offering? Is this a natural progression of the now common dual fuel offering?

This type of offering could present some interesting differentiator dynamics, especially in the areas of tariff innovation, and thus cost along with perceived customer single point of contact benefits for all utilities. When looking at different business customer demographics it’s quite easy to see the utility triple play offering appealing to the larger volume SMEs, where cost and simplicity would be key drivers in the provisioning of utility services. Large volume water users and multi nationals will present more of a challenge as they will be looking at a larger criteria of requirements than SMEs, so any potential new entrant looking at offering a utility bundled service will face the challenge of needing to broaden out their offering accordingly.

It will be interesting times ahead – monitoring over the coming months the emergence of any new entrants into the market, their background and planned strategies and, who knows, maybe we will see the Dawn of the Utility Triple Play!

Digital 2030: user controlled contextualisation?

Contextualisation – the art of successfully blending positioning, relationship and emotional data together to deliver a unique, personalised user experience across all channels – is expected to be a key differentiator for many companies in 2015. But what might contextualisation be like for users in 2030?

In 2030 I don’t have a smartphone – miniaturisation means all information I need (and control) is transmitted straight into my digital contact lenses (the ultimate wearable?) and micro headphones implanted in my ears.  My own personal drone provides me digital connections around the world including a secure continuous link to my cloud AI – my guide, advisor and friend throughout any customer journey.

In 2030 I shape my physical environment using augmented AND virtual reality together – if I want to make a call I use my virtual phone; likewise I can project any content I want on to any surface and share it with friends and other people in any size or resolution. The physical and data worlds are combined and I am completely in control using my cloud AI to make my life as simple as possible and protect me from real or cyber threats.

In 2030 I use contextualisation to add layers on to my customer experience – when I go shopping my cloud AI has already scanned all relevant data sources (including my own mood and friends’ social feeds) to tell me what’s hot or not in my specific location. I can also heat-map previous visits on to the physical space to see what has interested me and my friends before. If the shop doesn’t have what I want I can create a virtual prototype of the product right in front of the retail staff (with help from my AI) to help them visualise and fulfil my needs.  And of course, I don’t take any goods home with me: paid-for digital assets are stored on my cloud AI and created at home instantly on my own 3D printer.

My entire customer experience is powered by location, transactional and social data that I apply in ANY space to create my personalised, unique experience – ‘user controlled contextualisation’.

So what could this digital dream mean for business?

Marketing serves (rather than influences) individual users – to be successful, marketing differentiates itself in terms of the services it can provide users to enable them to tell their own contextualised data powered stories

Retail Spaces could be located anywhere (physical or virtual) – staff will be fully mobilised to move to areas of high user demand as required or could be outsourced anywhere in the world

A complete re-focusing of the supply chain – suppliers will have to radically re-organise their value chain and operating model to enable individuals to manufacture their products on personal demand

Software as a service is king – products and services are developed, marketed and sold primarily as soft digital assets all driven by software/SOA that can adapt instantly to any platform of the individual user’s choosing

Telecommunications become cyber security service providers  – because individuals are managing their own personal data communications across networks they are at constant risk of direct attack. Consequently, telco companies are continually, and fiercely, innovating their security capabilities (including drone services) to protect users

Pure fantasy? Let me know what you think…

What’s the difference between Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX)?

Let’s first define the two…

Customer Experience

The experience the customer will have across all touch points (online and offline), covering the relationship between the customer and the brand, from sales to operations, phone call to online interaction.

User Experience

UX focuses on the touch points with a digital interface, each a subset of the brand. UX encompasses how the digital experience makes a user feel and how usable that experience is throughout the entire process, before during and after.

Collaboration of UX and CX

Depending on what the customer or business requires, the work of the CX and UX person will overlap. In order to achieve a seamless experience the UX designer must first understand how the user will interact with the various touch points by gathering research, design and development material and aligning it to the customer journey map.

The result

Collaborating together on the customer journey we can create experiences that enable contextually aware data to be gathered, understand the goal of the customer, what the user wants to achieve and ensure they enjoy a seamless experience from start to finish, whether they are online or offline.

So what do we call this holistic experience? Service design.

The future of mobile payments is contactless

Mobile payments may well be set for a period of explosive growth, according to the recent Guardian article “Mobile payments: the brave new cashless future”, but it won’t just be down to Apple Pay, despite its apparent success since launching in the US in October of last year.

Yes, Apple Pay might be convenient and secure – two of the three consumer-centric attributes which MasterCard’s Jorn Lambert identified in the same article as key to the success of m-payments – given its reliance on a tokenized set of card credentials in an embedded Secure Element, a Touch ID payment authorisation process and a slick user interface. However, it falls short when it comes to the third attribute identified by Lambert, namely ubiquity. Never mind that Apple Pay is only accepted at the 3% of US retail terminals which have been upgraded to support contactless payments, it is also only available today on the iPhone 6 (and soon on the iPhone 5 for anyone who pairs it with an Apple Watch) so it definitely won’t be everyone’s favourite way to pay, at least in the short term.

Separately, Kevin Dallas of Worldpay took the view that merchants need to ensure that they partner with the “right” payment app since research suggests that consumers will only load one or two payment apps on their phones to avoid confusion. Since in-store retail payments still account for over 90% of all payment transactions by dollar volume, we would argue that the “right” mobile payment app for merchants to support is one which is optimised for use at a point of sale (POS) terminal. The following might help those merchants who are still sitting on the payments app fence come to the right decision:

  • Apple Pay was launched to support both in-app and tokenized in-store NFC (contactless) payments
  • Samsung Pay has just been launched to support both NFC and magnetic secure transmission technology (MST)
  • Google have recently announced support for Android Pay which uses NFC and tokenization
  • MasterCard announced (Sept 2014) that all legacy POS devices in Europe must support contactless payments by 1 January 2020, with all new POS devices to be compliant from the start of 2016

Merchants who today accept card payments will – in five years or less – be accepting contactless card and mobile payments. Those merchants who today do not accept cards but who want to accept mobile payments would do well to consider a future where smartphone penetration is expected to reach 6bn subscriptions by 2020, where the dominant handset models will be mobile payment and NFC-compliant and where their competitors are servicing customers with these handsets at contactless POS terminals for both low and high value transactions.

That’s right: the future of mobile payments isn’t cashless, it’s contactless.

International Hookup

It turns out there is an international effort to turn Sopra Steria into a user driven powerhouse, not just a technology driven one.

During this call we were organised and led by Eli, Head of UX and design at Sopra Steria Norway, who took us through some case studies and live projects while detailing the methods and challenges involved during each project. As we now know with Norway, regulations were put in place last year to heighten the level at which usability and accessibility should be developed for any public facing material. This has led to refined design patterns which the team in Norway now use as best practice, some examples include:

norway site

NYE Metoder

ehelse

Helsedirektoratet

The team there have worked extensively with local government and the public sector, just like we have. Designing for these kinds of clients can be challenging because of regulations and guidelines such as GDS, so having knowledge of their current state and best practices in place for the team is vital.

One of the ‘best practices’ that I saw from the Norway team was an online style guide created in HTML & CSS which meant that, within any project, the development team could access this site, ‘Inspect element’ and re-use the standardised library of elements, object, styles and fonts. A great bit of housekeeping that would prove valuable in any situation.

We gained some more input from Italy by Max Ramaciotti who is Chief digital officer for the company in that locale. He took us through some of the challenges that they have faced, which are much the same no matter where you practice, and he was talking about how “digital design is still quite young in Italy”. We can relate to this in the way that, yes the country knows about it and people are understanding of the main concepts, but companies still aren’t tuned in enough to really understand the true impact and advantage of well thought out strategy in that area.

General trends such as Agile development and responsive design are apparent within all teams in our sister countries, a hunger for defining and refining approaches and resources for these areas is obvious.

I don’t know if it should be obvious or a real surprise that the condition of things is quite similar across the whole of Europe.

This conference call was conducted on ‘gottomeeting’, my first time using it and providing you understand what the ‘mute’ button is for, it was great to link people in for chat, webcam and audio. The call was quickly planned by Eli in Norway just to make contact with the other resources in the company, this can be frequent call however and there is already ambition to keep it going. I think we could gain a lot out of it if we make it once or twice a month and include the whole team, maybe taking shifts per call etc. It could be our version of the ‘Agile coaching call’ which I know no-one here is really interested in because of the topic, I’m sure a UX version would be far more intriguing.

I’ll keep you guys posted with updates and any further developments for this activity.

PS If this really takes off and evolves, I want to be in meetings all day everyday!.. Meeting Wearables