Opinion & Analysis

The foundation of a great digital customer experience is human-centred design

By Angela Mensah-Poku

Today’s customers have changed to suit the times.

Customers are relying heavily on social media platforms, apps and websites to connect with brands and other customers. In comparison, not enough businesses have adjusted to suit their customers. To remain relevant, businesses must recognise which customer behaviours and patterns will endure in the long run, especially in the aftermath of the global COVID-19 outbreak.

Due to the growth of digital platforms, leading companies have created new digital experiences that have disrupted traditional in-store engagements. According to McKinsey, 80% of organisations believe they must digitalize their primary business model in order to continue to be financially successful.

It’s no surprise that so many businesses rely on digital to stay afloat – it’s the only way to keep up with ever-changing customer needs. However, not all digital customer experiences are equal. Some are more effective and are more quickly accepted than others. Simply put, certain digital customer experiences are more human-centred.

Human-centred design refers to the process of developing goods and services with the user’s experience, including their physical and psychological requirements in mind. It essentially involves thoroughly researching your target market and how they will use your product or service before creating it.

At the height of the epidemic, when social distancing was an absolute necessity, Vodafone Ghana had to reconsider how we provided services to our clients to put their safety first. Our customer service has been significantly and positively affected by these choices. Today, several channels, including our chatbot TOBi, My Vodafone App and My Vodafone Web, allow our customers to access the services they need conveniently.

To create these platforms, we needed to learn more about our customers’ needs and preferences than ever before. Deep empathy for customers helped us discover insights, motivations and underlying needs that we were previously unaware of. In some instances, it even unveiled experiences that frustrated our customers that they were unable to express verbally.

It all starts with empathy. Organisations must find ways to walk the customer journey. At all stages in the development of products, new or existing, customer feedback must remain the single source of truth throughout the creative process. This is where research and analytics come into play to help create a genuinely memorable customer experience. Engaging customers in ideation and testing is not easy, but it is crucial because it ensures that their needs and opinions inform both original concepts and future improvements. There are many examples of well-intentioned features that never saw the light of day simply because they did not resonate with the customers.

This co-creation approach has often led my team into pleasantly unexpected territories. In one instance, it led to a solution which dramatically benefits people living with hearing and communication difficulties. It eventually resulted in our SuperCare program, which is run across all our retail shops. Through the work that the team has done over the years, I have come to appreciate the importance of delving deeper into our various customer groups to make our services more inclusive.

Feedback is key to remaining relevant in the ever-evolving world of customer experience. We are always listening and always improving the customer experience at Vodafone Ghana.

With so much emphasis on digital customer experience, businesses must be careful not to overlook conventional customer service touchpoints like call centres and retail stores as the human touch remains the most natural form of engagement. The goal is not to entirely shift to digital, but to find methods to provide a memorable positive experience across all customer touchpoints. Our strategic approach has been to harmonise our digital customer experience and conventional service outlets to guarantee that customers can enjoy the same support irrespective of their preferred platform.

To that end, we are continually updating our retail shops based on client input. For instance, our Accra Mall shop has been moved to a larger area inside the same site and remodelled to provide customers with a more modern, convenient experience.

The human-centred design process offers businesses a chance to win with customers at the point of their need – whether digitally or otherwise. And the creative process should never come to a halt because its purpose is to continuously adjust the customer experience as determined by their needs. In the end, there emerges one universal truth – it’s all about the customer. Putting your customers’ needs at the centre of your customer experience can only result in strong brand love and continual growth for your organisation.

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