Category : Customer Experience

Customer Experience Media & Entertainment Technology

The Future of Sports Broadcasting: How Live Cricket Streaming is Leading the Way

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, held in India, has concluded, igniting global excitement with thrilling matches, nail-biting finishes, and remarkable individual and team performances. While the Australian juggernaut swiftly re-established dominance in world cricket, the true standout of the tournament was undoubtedly OTT!

This blog explores the dynamic realm of OTT platforms, shedding light on their transformative impact on live sports events. By harnessing the potential of technology, intuitive design, and human psychology, these platforms elevate the fan experience, introducing captivating and immersive features for events like the Cricket World Cup 2023.

OTT Streaming: Connect Sports Fans Like Never Before!

Only a handful of nations worldwide play cricket as a professional sport. However, it enjoys enormous popularity in most countries where it is played. In India especially, it is not just a sport – but often called a religion. Indians have followed the sport from the days of radio, black & white television, and color TVs. Some of the iconic moments in the game are etched in the nation’s psyche and hence command an unimaginable interest, passion, and fan following.

In today’s digital world, events such as the ICC Cricket World Cup are brought alive through OTT streaming for fans worldwide. Sports have the power to transcend boundaries and connect global audiences – we’ve seen that over the years with a community of fans based on a passion for a sport – tennis, soccer, golf, racing, or baseball. Live sports streaming adds a new dimension to the experience of a sports fan.

Now, let’s dive into the core question: What game-changing factors fuel the widespread adoption of OTT streaming for live sporting events, igniting fans’ passion and reshaping how we experience our favorite games?

Key Factors Driving OTT Adoption and Monetization for Live Sporting Events Like Cricket

OTT adoption for live sporting events is fueled by five major factors: Seamless User Experience, Enhanced User Engagement, Immersive Viewing Experience, Personalised Alerts Widgets, and Monetisation Strategies. Let’s uncover these ‘X-factors’ that distinguish OTT platforms in providing fans with an outstanding live sports experience.

Seamless User Experience

1. Multi-device, Multi-platform Support

OTT platforms offering multi-device, multi-platform support ensure viewers can access live cricket streaming seamlessly across various devices such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and desktop computers. This flexibility allows cricket enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite games anytime, anywhere, making the live sports streaming experience more accessible and user-friendly. Whether at home or on the go, these platforms provide a consistent and engaging viewing experience, enhancing the overall convenience and accessibility of live matches.

Example: A popular Indian streaming service, SonyLiv’s exemplary multi-device, multi-platform support is evident in its live streaming services. Viewers can seamlessly access live content across various devices and platforms, ensuring a flexible and user-friendly experience.

Robosoft helped Discovery+ offer a seamless multi-device experience, allowing users to watch on two devices simultaneously, continue watching where they left off, and access their favorites and Watch Later list on any device. With its touchpoint-agnostic design, they can enjoy Discovery+ on any device, anytime, anywhere.

2. Accessible Design

Accessibility in live sports streaming broadens the audience to include people with diverse needs and disabilities, making up nearly 15% of the global population. Legal compliance with accessibility standards is now necessary for all streaming applications worldwide. Features like closed captioning, audio descriptions, and customizable subtitles cater to viewers with different preferences, ensuring everyone can enjoy the thrill of live cricket action.

3. 1-Click Discovery

Discovery of matches can be made very easy by prominently featuring live and upcoming ones in the hero carousel, banners, or as a dedicated menu item in the navigation. This ensures that users can swiftly and effortlessly discover the games they wish to watch with just a single click after landing on the application.

Example: Jio Cinema, a streaming service from India’s largest diversified business group, had a dedicated tab during the IPL 2022 season, making it very simple for Cricket enthusiasts to discover the entire event.

Enhanced User Engagement

4. Building Communities

Social engagement features create a sense of connection and interaction among sports enthusiasts, allowing them to discuss, share, and react to the action in real-time, transforming solitary viewing into a communal and interactive experience. Through live chat, polls, virtual high-fives, real-time reactions, and fantasy gaming, users can connect with like-minded fans, share their excitement, and be part of a larger sports community, making the live sports experience even more engaging and enjoyable.

Example: ESPN’s Fantasy Cricket League allows users to create their teams, compete with friends, and earn points based on the performance of real players.

Robosoft developed a personalized cricket app for ESPN to provide cricket fans with a seamless and engaging experience. The app offers real-time score updates, scorecards, commentary, cricket news, expert analysis, and one-touch personalization to follow favorite teams. This success highlights Robosoft’s capabilities in delivering a high-quality and complete OTT solution for the world’s leading media and entertainment brands.

5. Watch Party

The Watch Party feature enables users to enjoy live sports alongside friends and family through video calls. This fosters a more social and engaging viewing experience, enhancing the sense of togetherness among sports fans, no matter where they are.

Example: Jio Cinema’s watch party allows users to connect with friends and family and watch their favorite shows together.

watchparty in live sports streaming

6. Cross Content Promotion

By integrating the latest content releases with live sports events, like cricket matches, OTT platforms can capture their audience’s attention, encourage extended usage, and enhance the overall user experience. This innovative approach is a powerful promotional tool, enabling the platform to showcase its new content offerings amplifying viewer engagement, retention, and overall user satisfaction.

Example: Disney+ Hotstar’s ‘Watch more’ feature empowers users to explore the most recent movie and TV series releases while watching the live match.

cross promotion of content in live sports cricket

7. In-Game Stats

Empowering users with real-time statistics and match analysis directly within the viewing interface. Viewers can customize their stats display, eliminating the need to rely on the operator for updates and enhancing the overall sports-watching experience.

Example: One of India’s premier sports platforms, Fancode’s Match hub feature will enable users to select the stats they want to view on the same live streaming screen.

In-Stream-Stats-and-Analysis-in-live cricket streaming

Also, Formula 1 enthusiasts enjoy a similar feature as F1TV provides live leaderboard data, real-time telemetry, team radio access, driver maps, and tire usage history for the fans to access any of these without switching their race screens.

Immersive Viewing Experience

8. Vertical Video

This feature is an option for users who want to experience the live game action in a close-up or zoomed-in view. It ensures viewers can adapt to the experience of their comfort rather than just sticking to the traditional landscape viewing experience. In addition, it allows users to unlock a new dimension with split screens, which boosts a further sense of proximity to the live cricket action and their heroes.

Example: Disney+ Hotstar’s MaxView is an excellent example of this, as it enhances fan engagement and provides a more immersive and interactive viewing experience.

vertical immersive viewing in live sports streaming

9. Chromecast and Airplay

This allows users to cast the content to a larger screen, such as a TV, for a more immersive and interactive viewing experience. This is especially useful for sports events, as it will enable users to enjoy the game on a big screen with friends and family while maintaining the ease and comfort of watching from home.

Example: Disney+ Hotstar users can cast their mobile application to other devices, thus enabling users to enjoy the live match on a bigger screen for a better experience.

Likewise, Tennis TV extends user convenience by providing casting, allowing viewers to stream content seamlessly from their devices to larger screens.

10. Tap to Unlock

It locks other video controls on the screen, preventing accidental interference during playback. This will contribute to a more streamlined and user-focused video-watching experience.

Example: Tap to unlock can be enabled in Disney+ Hotstar during matches, making the experience better without the worry of any accidental interference.

tap to unlock in live sports streaming platform

Personalized Alerts and Widgets

11. Communication Preferences

Users can choose their preferred match alerts and personalize them to stay engaged with the game. With this ability to tailor their match alerts, users can focus on what matters most to them during a game. This personalized approach keeps fans connected to the action, ensuring they never miss a moment, even when their schedules don’t align with live broadcasts. Not just with notifications, users can now receive updates directly on other mediums such as WhatsApp.

Example: Fan Code provides this feature that lets users select the alerts they want from a match via Push Notifications and WhatsApp.

notification and alerts in live sports streaming platform

12. Pin Live Score

OTT applications can take inspiration from Google Chrome’s “Pin live score” widget to create something similar for live sports streaming. Users can conveniently place a draggable widget on their Android and iOS devices, positioned at any desired location on the screen and visible over other apps. This customizable widget offers real-time updates for specific matches or preferred teams, providing a seamless and personalized experience for users who want to stay closely connected with live sports action.

Monetisation Strategies

13. Freemium

Free streaming relieves users from subscription fatigue and attracts millions to join the OTT app without any payment barriers. Cricket lovers have benefited from these free streaming for major events like the Cricket World Cup and IPL 2023. Brands profit through AVOD, making it a win-win for everyone! Apps can also charge users who want to consume the content in high definition.

Example: Jio Cinema exemplified this strategy by streaming IPL 2023 for free, enticing users to join their app and enjoy the live sporting action without subscription costs.

14. Event Passes

Event Passes like match, tour, and season passes allow users to watch their favorite content without committing to a monthly or yearly subscription. This flexibility and choice cater to sports enthusiasts seeking customized viewing experiences and cost-effective access to specific events.

Example: Fan Code and the NBA provide these options, allowing users to watch specific matches live without needing a long-term financial commitment.

15. Brand Connect

Brand integration in live streaming enables direct user interaction with brands, fostering mutually beneficial relationships between viewers, advertisers, and streaming platforms. This convergence of content consumption and brand engagement creates valuable monetization opportunities, drives lead generation, and provides a competitive edge in the market.

Example: Mahindra, a leading Indian conglomerate, sponsors ICC CW 2023 on Disney+ Hotstar, which is why Hotstar has integrated the Mahindra brand into its live-streaming app. Viewers interested in buying a Mahindra vehicle can easily explore and book a test drive while watching the live match without switching to another website or app. This creates a seamless and convenient viewer experience and helps Mahindra generate leads and sales.

brand integration in live sports streaming platform

Robosoft helped Magnolia’s integrated e-commerce section within the OTT app, increasing revenue and engagement by curating collections tied to their shows. By emulating this model, OTT platforms can partner with sports brands to promote fan merchandise monetization through interactive ads, promoting jerseys, and offering event tickets.

The Future of Live Sports OTT Streaming

OTT streaming is revolutionizing the way we experience and engage with sports. It offers fans the convenience of multi-device, multi-platform access, the thrill of personalized engagement, and the potential for new and innovative revenue streams. For sports providers, OTT platforms offer a powerful way to reach a wider audience, build deeper relationships with fans, and generate new revenue opportunities.

With technology constantly evolving, the future of sports broadcasting looks bright. OTT platforms are poised to play an increasingly important role in shaping how we watch and enjoy sports. The possibilities are endless, from new dimensions of interactivity and immersion to new records for viewership and engagement.

For businesses, OTT streaming presents a unique opportunity to connect with fans and showcase their products and services. By partnering with experienced OTT end-to-end service providers like Robosoft Technologies, businesses can harness the power of OTT to extend their reach, engage their audiences, and enhance their brand visibility.

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Customer Experience Insurance

Digital Insurance Trends Shaping Customer Experience

It’s challenging for traditional insurers to stay competitive in today’s dynamic digital market. Insurtech companies however are growing in the current experience economy, where consumers value experiences and emotions over goods and services. These forward-thinking, technologically driven businesses are providing great customer service by adapting to and exceeding the ever-changing demands and expectations of today’s customers.

According to a recent IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Liferay, customer experience (CX) will account for 37% of IT spending in the insurance sector by 2024 and grow at a CAGR of 17.5% to reach 50 billion USD. The IDC InfoBrief also states that “providing an excellent and personalized experience to new digital customers is a must for any insurer to build loyalty and long-term relationships, with 60% of insurers saying attracting and retaining customers are their top priorities”.

It is evident that insurers would face difficulty acquiring and retaining customers without a customer-focused strategy. Insurance companies must rethink how they engage with clients if they want to improve customer experience.

Increased Expectations for a Seamless CX

The largest customer segment for insurance was typically thought to be the silver agers generation. However, a survey by Allianz indicated that after the pandemic, millennials and Gen-Z were more interested than their older counterparts in upgrading their insurance coverage. However, younger customers are used to a clear and smooth digital experience, from social networking to mobile banking to music streaming and e-commerce services. Expectations from the insurance industry are no different. According to a study, customer experience (CX) accounts for nearly 60% of brand loyalty, and 96% of consumers believe that customer service is essential for maintaining brand loyalty.

The insurance sector is finding it challenging to meet these expectations. In a survey from the IBM Institute of Business Value, 60% of insurers acknowledge that their company does not have a customer experience strategy. Although the insurance sector has developed and offered some specific insurance products in response to these shifts in customer expectations, it is still trailing in providing clients with the comfort and ease that mobile technology can give.

Digital Trends Insuring a Better CX

The use of mobile phones and the internet has increased significantly worldwide. And when it comes to leveraging digital technologies to scale their business model and work toward providing a hassle-free experience, the insurance sector is not far behind. Some of the digital trends in the insurance industry are listed below:

1. Omnichannel insurance customer experiences

EY Global Insurance Consumer Report revealed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital interaction with agents was preferred by 43% of consumers in Europe markets, up from 28% before the pandemic.

In addition to preferring digital interaction, audiences, particularly younger ones, expect consistent, integrated experiences across all communication channels. For instance, if a customer begins a claim submission procedure over the phone and wishes to complete it through the web customer portal, he or she must be able to do it without having to input specific information once more. To meet such demands and preferences of the customer, there is an increasing desire for more integrated and holistic experiences that offer a unified, connected experience flow across channels.

Insurers thus need to assist the customers at every stage of their journey by establishing an omnichannel ecosystem for marketing, sales, and customer support. It helps them gain consumer loyalty along with giving them better control over the CX. These omnichannel experiences can be created by:

● Assisting customers on their preferred web channels

● Connecting customers’ offline and online experiences

● Tailoring the content of websites or mobile apps for various screens

● Following client activity across channels with the help of advanced monitoring technologies

● Using progressive profiling and autofill forms to prevent users from frequently filling out forms while logging in from various devices or platforms

● Making use of client information to retarget individuals with tailored campaigns across platforms, etc.

2. Self-service options

A self-service portal that allows customers to manage their policies, make payments, submit claims, etc. is something that more and more customers are expecting from their insurance service providers. According to the World Insurance Report, 72.7% of tech-savvy customers prefer to renew or apply for coverage digitally while 57.6% of non-tech-savvy customers agree that digital policy management is important. Statistics indicate that most customers are equipped for self-service policy management, regardless of their level of digital skills. For insurance companies, self-service capabilities have several advantages:

● Lower customer acquisition costs

● Increased customer retention and loyalty

● Rapid claim processing, etc.

3. Personalized insurance apps

Over the past few years, the number of customers who would transfer insurance providers owing to poor UI UX rose by 80%. Custom insurance applications are currently the most popular channel for customer account service because a huge chunk of insurers allow customers to manage their policies via mobile apps. When providing personalized services, insurers saw an 81% increase in customer retention and an 89% increase in customer engagement.

The below qualities should be present in the customized app:

● A user-friendly interface that is compatible with both computers and mobile devices

● Workflow automation and analytics capabilities

● Payment processing

● Personalized dashboards for simple policy management and monitoring

● Other features include an embedded knowledge base, electronic signatures, and downloadable documents.

4. Internet of Things (IoT)

The insurance industry will undergo major changes in the future as a result of IoT. These technologies can be used in the four largest digital insurance ecosystems: connected cars, smart homes, connected health, and commercial lines.

The IoT makes it possible for insurance companies to use data from internet-connected devices to improve operational effectiveness. These interconnected devices communicate with one another automatically, allowing for more precise predictive analytics, snap decisions, and seamless process automation.

IoT has made it possible for insurers to collect data on policyholder behavior and quickly alert them about accidents. In this approach, IoT helps with both customer relationship management and claims processing. While customers might forget to recall and submit event details, IoT records everything. As a result, insurers are better equipped to precisely analyze damage, pinpoint the exact cause of accidents, and determine fair compensations.

5. Chatbots

Another effective technique that insurers of today should use to meet client expectations is chatbot technology. These are bot-powered chat widgets that have been added to the insurer’s website, messaging service, or client portal. Insurers must set up chatbots for many reasons:

● They assist prospects by providing quotes or addressing queries

● They improve customer experience by offering 24/7 help

● They free up agents by handling repetitive customer queries

● They generate leads by collecting visitors’ contact information

● They qualify leads and automatically identify the right plans for them

● They can be used to automate the claims process

When it comes to processing insurance applications and claims, a good chatbot can almost entirely take the role of a real person. This cutting-edge strategy enables insurers to provide excellent customer service while enabling agents to concentrate on more difficult responsibilities.

6. The rise of Insurtech

Insurtech is the application of cutting-edge technology to innovation in the insurance industry. More specifically, big data, AI, blockchain, IoT, natural language processing, and other technologies are what power Insurtech. The most important insurance operations, such as underwriting, fraud prevention, claims processing, etc., are addressed by these solutions.

The core digitization strategies stated above are only the outset of Insurtech. It replaces conventional, legacy-driven insurance procedures by adding these cutting-edge technologies. The most frequent use cases for Insurtech involve risk assessment and mitigation due to the constant emergence of new threats.

7. Predictive Analysis

Predictive Analysis has always been a major aspect of insurance agents’ day-to-day tasks. The role of insurance agents has always included a significant amount of predictive analysis. The data analytics landscape saw a significant transformation in recent years. Agents can now select from a wide range of tools and techniques to carry out a precise Predictive Analysis. If they wish to remain competitive and meet the criteria set by InsurTech leaders, they need to quit depending on manual processes.

Predictive Analytics has been credited by insurers with lower underwriting costs (67%), increased sales (60%), and increased profitability (60%). In 2022 and in the years to come, predictive analytics will become increasingly valuable in the insurance industry.

Predictive Analysis can be implemented in the following tasks:

● Insurance pricing and policy optimization

● Risk assessment

● Fraud detection

● Claims management

● Proactive customer engagement

For instance, prediction algorithms powered by machine learning can enhance insurance plans and present more pertinent insurance products to prospective or existing consumers by analyzing customer behavioral signals and purchase trends. Predictive analytics eliminates the component of the guesswork from the policy pricing process, enhancing customer satisfaction and boosting revenue for insurance businesses.

8. Artificial Intelligence

The insurance sector is actively implementing AI-powered solutions as the technology becomes more and more prevalent and is utilized to power a variety of activities. By 2030, automation powered by AI is expected to replace more than 50% of claim-related processes, according to McKinsey. Insurers need to start their AI journey right away to make it practicable.

By automatically analyzing vast volumes of consumer data, AI processing enables insurers to provide customized client experiences. These innovations significantly alter the entire underwriting process while simultaneously speeding up claim response time.

The following technological solutions give insurers access to AI capabilities:

● AI-enabled insurance chatbots

● Predictive analytics tools

● Fraud detection software

● Document capture technologies

● Risk management software

● Claims processing software

Additionally, AI and similar technologies aren’t susceptible to human error, thus removing associated risks that could have a detrimental impact on insurers’ profitability.

9. Simplicity and speed improve customer CX

Insurance is a very sensitive matter in terms of customer experience. This is because when an accident occurs, the essential quality evaluation by customers takes place at a time of the highest emotional fragility and strain. Complex contracts and a bad claims experience are the two primary causes of friction. Because of this, many customers have negative impressions of their insurance experiences.

Customers report a lack of knowledge, assurance, and trust in insurance, according to the EY 2021 Global Insurance Outlook. This is further supported by the idea that, rather than providing for their clients, insurers frequently seek different justifications and defenses to avoid paying insurance compensation. Such immoral practices will have disastrous CX effects.

Insurance companies will need to integrate digital channels with back-end systems, automate manual operations, and improve third-party processes to enable faster digital processing to meet client demand for speed. As digital behavior develops and consumer expectations, influenced by digital services from various industries rise, the necessity for simplicity and speed will only expand.

10. Customer-Centered Design

In an era where customer experience is beginning to trump price and product as a brand advantage, it’s critical to not undervalue the importance of personalization and customer-centricity.

Given that the growth of digital ecosystems has lowered the barrier to entry, brought about the rise of new players (Insurtech businesses), and increased market rivalry, the ability to offer customers the best value has emerged as the primary competitive advantage. Corroboration of increasing innovation may be found in operational areas like policy servicing (in life insurance), claims (in vehicle insurance), and back-office operations (in health insurance).

Companies in the Insurtech sector create digital products with the customer at the center and offer disruptive services to the market. When a customer interacts with an insurance business, it’s important to understand their situation and be empathetic. The only approach to develop that level of empathy is to conduct insurance UX research and use the results of that research to design and construct a customer-centric humanized insurance UX/CX. The personalized claims experience and the personalized buying experience are the two major touchpoints in the insurance customer journey.

According to a Capgemini survey, eight in ten consumers are willing to pay more for improved customer service. According to Accenture’s Global Insurance Consumer Study, 69% of customers would give major data on their health, exercise, and driving habits in exchange for lower insurance rates, and 66% would also disclose significant data for personalized services to reduce injury and loss. Good customer service frequently results in returning business and referrals to friends and family.

CX Trends in Insurance: Right Implementation from Best Insurtech Companies

1. Lemonade

Lemonade is a digital-only insurer with a web & mobile platform. The platform offers:

● Chatbot-powered conversational policy purchase process

● Renter’s insurance within the app

● Car insurance is based on driving habits

● Easy switching from other insurers to Lemonade

● AI-assisted claim review and instant payment

● Option to donate unclaimed premiums to the charity of choice

2. Metromile

Metromile is the leading pay-per-mile car insurance in the US offering personalized digital insurance services. The platform offers:

● Rates are based on the user’s driving habits

● Telematics devices that plug into the car’s diagnostics port and driver’s mobile phone to get data on car usage for better CX

● AI-assisted claim review system

● Access to a nearby garage, vehicle rentals, etc. to get back on the road in case of an accident

3. Beam Dental

Beam Digital is a digital-first, preventive-focused dental insurance offering simplified digital insurance benefits. It offers:

● Electric brush connects to their app to help track and improve brushing habits

● Gamified dental care turns good brushing habits into rewards and savings

● Nearby dentist and hospital search

● Online access to coverage and plan information 24/7

4. Luko

It’s a digital home and real estate insurance app offering prevention, comprehensive coverage, maintenance, and repair. It offers:

● Damage assessment by an expert through a video call

● Access to free services to fix damages and a network of certified skilled workers to get advice through video calls to help with minor repairs

● Partnership with quality smart home device service providers and offers a discount on insurance if security solutions are used

● To donate unclaimed premiums to causes chosen by users

5. Thimble

It’s an on-demand business insurance platform made to serve small businesses and self-employed. The offerings include

● Buy a policy online, in the app, or over the phone instantly

● Customized insurance coverage by hours, days, months, or years

● Flexible payment options for premium

● Options to change, pause, or cancel policy anytime

● No direct claim handling hassle as they are handled by underwriting partners

At Robosoft, we have partnered with enterprises across the spectrum of financial services – insurance, digital banking, payment, lending, and more. We craft digital solutions that simplify lives and delight customers seamlessly across consumer touchpoints.

In Conclusion

In order to win the hearts and loyalty of digital customers and remain relevant in the future, insurers must first foster a transformation culture and customer excellence culture to position towards delivering value to customers and solving their real problems.

This will allow them to evolve from “detect and repair” to “predict and prevent”. It also implies making use of the possibilities that emerging technologies bring. This involves upgrading service channels, adopting, developing, and leveraging new technologies, tackling legacy systems, leaving behind inefficient processes, changing company culture, and shifting mindsets.

Digital is a key battleground in the experience economy, with significant opportunities for those that delight consumers. Let’s get to work and simplify digital experiences and the lives of consumers.

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Customer Experience Design Thinking

A Data-Informed, Design Thinking Approach For User Retention

Consumers have an abundance of choices today, so brands might rightfully rejoice when acquiring users. However, user acquisition does not guarantee user engagement, and this oversight can have a spiraling impact on retention. All businesses, even the neighborhood retail stores, know that acquiring a customer is more expensive than retaining current customers.

In businesses where digital experience is the brand experience, user retention is even more challenging, as an average consumer has a multitude of apps for different purposes. Disengaged users are a red flag for mobile-led businesses, signifying potential revenue loss.

Existing users are an asset waiting to be tapped, with a direct way to reach them already in place. User retention cannot be an afterthought; it needs to be planned for even before a single line of code is written. How do we then go about retaining, activating and engaging current users?

Digital products that are most successful demonstrate good behavioral design by engaging users regularly, making them believe they can’t live without those apps. In building our user retention strategy, we can no longer overlook the human-centric design approach.

Donald A. Norman, in his book Living with Complexity, writes:

Donald A Norman Living with complexity quote

We can create positive customer experiences by placing users at the center and making sure that all the touchpoints address their needs—or, better still, predict their future needs seamlessly, which is the fundamental premise of design thinking. Involving the end user at every iteration (ideation, innovation, co-creation of solutions, continuous improvement) opens up avenues to discover ways of improving user experiences—and, thereby, retention and business growth.

Key Elements Of Design That Help Retain Users

Successful design attracts users through an emotional trigger, incentive or motivator that encourages a positive action or investment leading to a reward. With each use, they see themselves earning brownie points or feel valued even if the reward is not monetized. Users return to the app because they want a repeat experience.

Another element is the intuitiveness of the design—convenience of use, flexible features, consistent performance. Particularly when an app is enriched with complex features, simplifying the interface and making it intuitive (both UX and visual elements) can ensure that any time spent on learning the app seems worthwhile for the user.

However, this does not mean the design is perfect right away. The very essence of design thinking is that there is always room for improvement and the app keeps evolving so users remain interested and engaged. The loyalty of Apple phone users is based on the promise that with every iteration, the product is only getting better. Therefore, it’s important for design not to stagnate but to be iterative, innovative and tested to be able to meet their changing demands.

Key design elements to retain users

Tuning in to the demands, needs and unique context of the user tops the list in design thinking, and it begins from the moment the person downloads the app and starts a relationship with the brand. Behemoths like Apple and Disney, as well as digital native startups, have opened up our world to design thinking as a user-centric practice. Brands like Ikea continue to attract and engage users because of the do-it-yourself factor that instills a sense of ownership and pride in the product that the buyer has “put together” on their own.

Design Thinking Elevates User Experience

Today, brands and businesses also have the power of big data and artificial intelligence to guide the narrative around key business decisions and customer engagement.

While data and design have delivered immense value as separate disciplines, there is great merit in understanding what they could offer in combination for user retention. A McKinsey study of the design practices of 300 companies found that “the top financial performers had integrated design across the organization rather than creating design units within specific departments.” McKinsey also estimated that “60% of companies successfully scaling analytics to solve problems across the organization used cross-functional teams.” That means data scientists and researchers are sharing insights and coffee with visual designers and graphic experts on how to arrive at the best or most viable solutions to address specific user needs.

Based on what data analytics tells them, design thinking can help at key phases of the brand-user relationship: onboarding, nurturing and attrition.

Onboarding is the most important and needs to be friction-free. First impressions last, and they need to be immersive experiences that immediately introduce the user to the app’s unique features. A common feature of apps with “user love” is that they provide an instant connection to users with a simple user interface, making it easy for them to start using the app without a fuss. The simplicity of design encourages them to come back and explore unique features that they could potentially leverage repeatedly.

Nurturing user habits is a must, as merely hooking them initially doesn’t guarantee continued interest. Their engagement can be sustained by encouraging them to cultivate habits that are supported by the app and infusing a greater sense of personalization in the user. Push notifications and personalized recommendations based on predictive analyses of the user’s personal data, behavioral patterns and preferences need to be baked into the digital strategy.

The “listening to the user” aspect of design thinking in combination with data plays a vital role in the attrition phase. It allows the app to evolve along with the user’s changing needs, feedback and reviews. Telling users that their inputs are valued and acted upon in the form of new features and upgrades can enhance their sense of loyalty and likelihood of returning to use the app.

In The Design of Everyday Things, Norman says: “Cognition attempts to make sense of the world: emotion assigns value.” As research suggests, a marriage of the two could well take user engagement and business growth to unimagined heights.

This article was originally published on Forbes Technology Council.

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Customer Experience Digital Transformation

5 Customer Experience Trends in Automotive Industry Shifting Gears towards Digital Transformation

The automotive industry is one of the major industries that has witnessed a massive digital transformation in recent years. Digital is revolutionizing the automotive experience for consumers. The recent innovations in automobiles are designed to complement the overall driving experience of a consumer. One could even go on and say there is a clear shift from RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) to EPM (Experiences Per Mile) when it comes to customer needs from their automobile. The industry must quickly find new ways to adapt to this growing customer need or risk being left behind. One major factor of digital transformation is mobility where customers want to get everything done from their always evolving smartphones. But the future of mobility in the automotive industry doesn’t lie in the features offered for the vehicle but lies in redefining what “moves consumers” emotionally when they purchase an automobile.

Here are 5 trends on how the automobile industry is evolving to meet changing consumer behavior and expectations.

Customer experience and behavior trends in automotive industry triggered by digital transformation

1. Automobile buying experience shifting from physical to digital

The traditional model of car buying experience involved physical visits to the car dealerships to know about the cars and their features before deciding to purchase one. However, two disruptions in recent years have somewhat changed the entire complexion of this car buying experience.

The first major disruption was the emergence of the mobile-first generation with the purchasing power who value experience over possessions. And the second disruption was caused by the pandemic which forever changed the way a few industries and their customers operate and behave. The pandemic prevented customers from visiting the commercial premises and the dealerships too started closing to prevent the virus from spreading. These two disruptions, on top of the arrival of technologies such as AR/VR, 360-degree views, and standardizations in other areas, have made Digital possible in the car buying space and accelerated the digital transformation.

In one of their insights, McKinsey validates the importance of car dealers having a digital presence for their customers. The report suggests the purchase intent of customers mainly using digital channels dropped by only 2 percent while for offline buying journeys the purchase intent dropped by 8 percent post-pandemic. As digital is becoming increasingly important in the automotive buying experience, those brands that dive in and create brand affinity through experience on the digital channel are reaping the benefits.

2. Auto manufacturers and OEMs must adopt a retail approach for digital-savvy customers

Leading e-commerce brands not only changed the retail industry forever, but they also trained consumer minds to expect a retail service in every other industry, the automotive industry included. The abundance of information and availability of data along with the latest technology made it possible for modern consumers to do thorough research and compare the products themselves, replacing the need for in-person discussions.

The post-pandemic era saw more and more consumers choosing a digital-first approach for many touchpoints of their buying journey. In this approach, the customers are demanding online platforms that enable accurate product searches and comparisons which in turn enables them to finalize buying decisions online.

It may be noted that so far very few auto manufacturers like Tesla and Mercedes Benz have adopted a direct-to-consumer e-commerce approach. This is a unique opportunity for auto manufacturers to create a competitive advantage by positioning themselves as digital innovators.

Tesla online purchase experience

3. Seamless customer experience journey management with digital adoption

Customers now have the privilege to enjoy the benefits of a connected vehicle making it safer to drive and less stressful. This increased connectivity not only improves the overall driving experience, but also enables the vehicle to generate and process a large amount of customer data for a more seamless experience.

However, there are still some areas of improvement in handling such a large amount of customer data by the dealerships and OEMs. Since most of the dealers still rely on physical processes in the customer journey, it invites greater chances of human error in data handling. With proper digital systems in place, making the jump from physical to digital will eradicate such minor issues leading to better management of customer journeys. Once you assess the viability of digital transformation in your organization and adopt the way, it opens up a world of opportunities for you. Adopting a digital approach minimizes errors, makes your team more agile and responds better and faster to clients’ requirements. As a result, it improves customer experience operationally as well.

Mercedes-Benz was looking for a solution to better serve its customers in Brazil, which has the second-largest plant followed by Germany. They invested in a Microsoft Azure cloud solution coupled with Power BI and Cortana Intelligence to map their sales processes, and analyze decades worth of data like license plate records, macroeconomic indicators, regulations, sales information, and statistics by each region of the country. Through this change in data analysis and interpretation model, Mercedes-Benz was able to:

  • Provide 180 service locations around Brazil with consistent, actionable information to ensure each location could provide accurate proposals to their clients.
  • Assist sales reps to engage with consumers proactively before a need is even expressed with the help of predictive analysis.
  • Support employees in engaging and serving customers better, and in improving overall customer experience and satisfaction.

Connected car generates vast customer data from multiple touchpoints

Digitization enables manufacturers to identify additional customer touchpoints to make them understand the customer better. They can now better understand what motivates customers to defect to other brands before it happens and find resolutions for these issues.

4. Possession or ride experience – changing preferences

According to a survey of 7000 people by Accenture, 48% of respondents said they would consider giving up car ownership in favor of using autonomous mobility solutions. Another research by PwC suggests that by 2030, more than 1 in 3 kilometers driven would involve sharing concepts. These researches point to a shift in the attitude of car owners from possession to ride experience. Personal mode of transportation is being avoided by the younger generation in favor of mobility solutions like ride-sharing, subscription models, or even rental services.

This changing scenario is forcing manufacturers and dealerships to find new ways to keep their customers satisfied and loyal to them. One such example would be Porsche launching its ‘Porsche Passport’ service back in late 2017. According to this service, Porsche customers could pay a fixed fee per month in return to use up to 22 different cars based on their needs or desires. The idea was to offer greater flexibility to customers in terms of options to switch along with insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance. The whole idea underscored the need to cater to consumer experience rather than ownership.

Porsche car membership for customers

5. Increased focus on both purchase and service experience

As mentioned previously, digitization offers auto manufacturers and OEMs a larger pool of actionable customer data. Companies can collect and connect millions of such touchpoints from call centers, surveys, dealer management systems, and communications to visualize each customer journey. The companies can now use this visual map to better monitor and action planning of each customer’s journey experience by appointing “journey owners”. Thanks to technology, dealerships can offer IoT based servicing and car care to their customers.

A survey by McKinsey & Company shows almost 50 percent of customers believe a better service experience is more influential than the actual purchase experience in the customer journey.

McKinsey customer experience vs service experience survey

As millennials are increasingly becoming the foremost segment in car ownership, it is becoming more difficult for dealerships to attract them with the traditional approach. This customer segment is accustomed to instant gratification in the digital space and hence very time-intensive. Dealerships who cater to these specific requirements from the millennials along with their other services will increase conversions and thereby increase revenues.

Digital Transformation is building a case for CASE to improve CX in the automotive industry

The automotive industry is in a state of continuous disruptive transition. Newer technologies like AI, ML, AR, Big Data are influencing the customer experiences more and more with each passing day. Dealerships are using eCommerce as an option to improve customer experiences or sell their products be it vehicles, automobile parts, or even accessories. For example, we can see how Tesla has included artificial intelligence, solar panels & electric vehicles in its portfolio.

Customers are now experiencing newer vehicle capabilities and changing behavior according to newer realities and increased convenience. This led to the industry aggressively shifting gears and setting forward on an ambitious new course: “CASE”— the push for more Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric vehicles, and mobility solutions.

Connected

A fully connected car relies on three pillars of connectivity – infotainment, infrastructure, and telematics.

In today’s digital age and mobile-first generation, customers are expecting similar seamless experiences everywhere. The same expectations are there from newer vehicles in the market. These expectations include everything from high-quality infotainment systems for passengers to assisted driving and parking with payment from the dashboard.

People can now watch movies, use Google Maps, listen to music with Bluetooth connectivity, and more thanks to connectivity capabilities like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Smart vehicles detect drivers’ sleepiness, and the galvanic skin-response sensors can give a metric for stress to warn the driver and avoid any harmful accidents. On the outside of the car, radar, cameras, and laser scanners can “read” the road and then respond. All the above features and more come preloaded or customized based on the demands of the consumer.

Automotive telematics assesses the driver’s behaviors from timely insurance payments to driving routes. It also can be used to optimize the fleets in a car-sharing model. Automobile manufacturers have released their own telematics apps that connect with their selected cars. Honda Connect lets your car get connected with Amazon’s Alexa provides over 32 ingenious features for the safety and convenience of the riders. Similarly, Suzuki Connect lets you connect with the car and offers dynamic attributes such as 24X7 roadside assistance, driving analytics reports, functional alerts, live vehicle tracking, and many more.

Autonomous

The vehicles are being manufactured with the increased ability to safely operate with less and eventually no input from the driver. With no driver, the autonomous vehicle experience is all about making an impactful product design. The driving pattern of automated cars can be algorithmically optimized, increasing the capacity on any highway.

Although with autonomy comes the fear of the unknown and being out of control. It is our innate human nature to be in control of things to feel calm. So here is an opportunity for automakers to make it a much more fulfilling experience for customers via the following:

1. The rider of an autonomous vehicle is quite likely to experience anxieties arising from loss of control. It presents a huge opportunity for CX to help calm the rider by providing several inputs and communications.

2. From a servicing perspective, the car can book a servicing appointment and drive itself to the service station at the scheduled time and return after servicing.

3. The rider can use their mobile to summon the vehicle when required.

All autonomous vehicles in near future will require a human-machine interface (HMI) to communicate with the driver as well as the pedestrians. The features of this HMI interface include – Haptic controls with embedded touch controls, a touch screen with possible haptic feedback, gesture control with visual feedback, and voice control and feedback. These cars could not only understand, inform, and ensure passenger safety but also entertain passengers.

4. Speech recognition (Voice to Text) to tell the car your destination, temperature control, music choice, etc. The autonomous vehicle would store these preferences and recreate via voice detection/face detection of the customer.

Increased acceptance of autonomous vehicles presents a unique opportunity for ambitious automotive companies to break away from the clutter with an increased focus on optimal customer service as a point of differentiation. They need to develop new business models that cater to field services of these autonomous vehicles by offering after-sales customer support and maintenance “in the field”.

Autonomous vehicles however present a big dilemma in front of the insurance industry and could prove to be a big disruptor in the future. If the driver is taken out of the question, who does the risk shift to in case of an accident? Who will be liable for the payment of the insurance? As of now the OEMs and manufacturers are taking the heat as we see Tesla being charged with many lawsuits for its driverless vehicle accidents. But with time, the vehicles will be safer which in turn brings down the risk and then will bring down the insurance amount – making a huge dent in the insurance industry. There is also the case of reimagining traffic management by regulating autonomous and self-driven vehicles.

Shared

In major markets like the US, the ownership of vehicles per household is almost double the number of households which leads to vehicles sitting idly for a large portion of each day. To lessen this implication, the mobility industry is rapidly deploying new forms of car ownership models – carsharing, ridesharing, and ride-hailing services, to the customers. Combining ride sharing and car sharing could take every passenger to a destination with nearly 80% fewer cars in metro cities.

The negative implications of newer forms of car ownership models are seen in declining sales figures for automotive companies. The automotive companies now not only have to battle against each other for market share but well-funded car-sharing technology companies as well. To tackle this situation the automotive companies are now starting their ride-sharing or shared leasing systems with the help of capable technology partners.

The benefits of these new car ownership models are seen around us. Fewer cars mean a lower cost of building and maintaining the roads. Also less noise pollution, less environmental damage. This is one of the main reasons most Governments are pushing for completely having electric vehicles on the road.

Electrification

Disruptive OEMs and startups are expanding the capabilities of a vehicle and demonstrating compelling options for the end consumer. Add this to the rising global energy costs, resource scarcity, global climate change, and increased government incentives/regulations leading to the invention of green energy and environment-friendly vehicles.

Electric vehicles are perfect examples of sustainable mobility solutions that will revolutionize the automotive industry soon. The need of the hour for existing manufacturers is to support new software-based architectures capable of driving needed chemistry efficiencies.

Initially, the adoption of EVs was slow among customers. But with each iteration, electric vehicles are becoming more and more cost-efficient with increased access to charging stations everywhere.

However, all is not well for the future of Electric Vehicles or EVs if proper measures aren’t taken now. One such would be making a proper scrappage policy. The rise of EVs on the road would lead to scrapping a lot of polluting vehicles. Also, the batteries of the EVs need to be scrapped properly. A standard battery has a life of 4 years. We can expect massive battery junk to pile up if a disposal strategy isn’t in place.

Hitachi’s new compact, lightweight direct-drive system combines the motor, inverter, and brake into a single unit and installs the entire system into the wheel. This EV claims to reduce the energy loss by 30% and increase the single charge range of the vehicle.

Key stakeholders of digital transformation in the automobile industry

Customer

Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart, once famously said, ”There is only one boss. The customer.”

The center of any digital transformation for any industry is the customer. Everything done by the automaker is intended to provide a seamless, delightful customer experience. Online car purchases without a single visit to dealerships, safer cars with driverless assistants, sensors, radars, and cameras are some positives for customers. HMI is being used more and more to operate vehicles. Smart virtual assistants take care of activities such as taking a call, sending a message, playing a track, and rerouting while the driver can focus on driving down the road.

Auto manufacturers and Distributors

Auto manufacturers now are looking towards technologies and software capabilities like IoT, connectivity, autonomous, 3D printing while designing a car. Software competencies are increasingly becoming a key differentiating factor for providing ADAS – Advanced Driver Assistance System.

Huge car manufacturers are partnering with Google, Tesla, or Apple for in-car infotainment systems and car connectivity with customers’ smartphones. Manufacturers are using data collection methods and analytics to make various decisions during the lifecycle of the vehicle. They can also predict the car inventory replacement cycles and new sales thanks to digital transformation.

What are the key takeaways from the trends discussed?

The sales of automobiles were at an all-time low in recent years due to many reasons – the pandemic and chip shortages among major reasons. This led to manufacturers finding new ways to connect and retain their customers. Manufacturers are now exploring going direct in addition to going via dealers to establish a connection with their customers.

The pandemic was a boon in disguise for the physical to the digital movement of products and services. The increased acceptance and affinity towards contactless services opened the doors to a complete digital customer journey in the automotive industry. The dealerships are moving on from pull marketing strategies to push marketing strategies. The focus is not much on bringing customers to the dealership and building relations but to showcase the product and stand out among the competing products.

Autonomous cars have become a reality and it created a few more avenues for automakers to provide a seamless customer experience. Electric Vehicles are becoming the new normal in the automotive industry and we can now see many manufacturers and even governments promoting the usage of EVs.

There is a clear indication of buyers, especially millennial buyers, inclining more towards vehicle riding experience rather than possession. They are ready to give up their car ownership in favor of convenient mobility solutions that fulfill their needs of transporting from one location to another.

These new trends and other disruptions mean automakers and dealerships are now focusing more than ever on delivering the perfect customer experience.

How automakers are delivering perfect customer experience

Customer experience is primarily about establishing an emotional connection with the client. We can dissect customer experience at the brand level and product level. Automotive manufacturers and OEMs can establish an emotional connection with their customers at both brand and product levels. Let’s discuss these two in detail.

Brand level connection

The human brain is divided into two halves, one part is emotional while the other part is rational. A brand-level connection with the customer would require engaging with both these parts and evoking a response. All the branding and marketing efforts from the automakers and dealerships focus on either of these two halves to position themselves in the minds of their consumers.

Typically the brand connection can further be subcategorized into – Sentimental connection and Rational connection.

i) Sentimental connection

A strong emotional connection gives an extra advantage over your competition. More often than not customers are swayed by their emotions when making a purchase. Automakers run campaigns that try to evoke a response from the consumer.

“The advent of big data analytics brings clarity, discipline, and rigor to companies’ long-held desire to connect with the customer emotions that truly matter.”The New Science of Customer Emotions, Nov 2015, Harvard Business Review

In the middle of 2021, Lamborghini ran a campaign with the tagline “It takes time to become timeless.” Here the intention of the automaker was to position themselves as someone who had been there forever for the consumers irrespective of time, and situation. The goal is to free Lamborghini designs to any new automobile design trends and separate itself from the competition as one of its kind.

Lamborghini Timeless campaign

Not everyone likes a drastic change to an old hit – be it music, a motorcycle, or a car. Lamborghini banked on that human emotion towards finding similarities to drive their campaign.

Similarly, there are other examples of automakers targeting particular sentiments of consumers to run their campaigns.

Ferrari never talks about luxury or driving as its customer segment only cares about sports cars. Hence, Ferrari takes extra care in hugely popular F1 grand prix and other such racing tournaments to promote its brand.

Ferrari drivers after Grand prix win

BMW collects goodwill by taking calculated measures to become a fully sustainable company in the future. It has firmly embedded ecological and social sustainability along with the entire value chain into its strategies. Environment-friendly and sustainable approaches are what drive the corporate strategies of BMW – be it cutting CO2 emissions and recycling to expanding hydrogen technologies.

BMW environment conscious image

People like to associate themselves with something good. And when you drive a BMW, you are bound to feel better knowing you are contributing something good for the environment.

ii) Rational connection

Unlike purchasing groceries, buying a car isn’t a decision made in a matter of seconds. It may come down to a final standoff between two or three options and the consumer may make the decision based on emotional parameters. But the period between recognition of the need to buy a car and the actual purchase may run into many weeks or even months. During the whole period, consumers will assign certain values to different parameters involved in purchasing the car. It is up to the automakers to keep persuading their consumers with the right message at each decision-making journey so that the consumer continues to keep them in consideration.

“What I try to impress on people is that the rational brain is not good at being rational, but instead is good at simply rationalizing what the emotional brain has already decided to do, and this happens non-consciously. You need to know how to structure decisions so that, when the context demands it, you can minimize the role of emotion. The easiest way to do this is distill whatever variables you can to numbers.”

~ Baba Shiv, Professor of Marketing at Stanford GSB

Along with the features of the vehicle, several rational parameters come into play when forming a buying decision. Some of these are value for money, a better resale value, access to service centers in proximity, higher quality, and reliability of the material and engines, low cost of spares, and a lower total cost of ownership. These parameters may not affect the buying decision much when it comes to luxury cars. But the luxury car segment only covers about 20% of all vehicle sales in the US. The remaining 80% is still going to consider the above factors.

In price-sensitive markets like India, where consumers seek great value and prioritize rational parameters, brands such as Maruti and Hero do well. This is the reason Maruti and Hero MotoCorp are market leaders with a market share of 48% and 37% respectively. Both these vehicles have lower costs of ownership, better sale value, lower costs of spares, and easily available service centers.

Product level connection

The brand-level connection ensures the consumer has your attention, but you still have to deliver a perfect vehicle of their choice to them. The automakers and OEMs need to create a fascination with the product in the minds of the consumer.

In the earlier days, buyers would look for design, mileage, material, and comfort in their vehicle. But thanks to continuous innovations and changing customer expectations, vehicles are now equipped with much more hi-tech features which make a difference.

Features such as infotainment, voice-activated facilities, autonomous parking assistant, wireless charging, proactive servicing, and parts replacement, roadside assistance, looks, mileage, comfort and convenience, cockpit, charging stations play a major role in helping customers choose their ideal vehicle.

Delivering a superior overall purchase experience has become first and foremost priority for automakers.

Consumers constantly search for review videos on YouTube and get a 360-degree view of the vehicles they desire to own. This process goes on for weeks to months, collecting all possible information from the automaker website to third-party websites. If a consumer has his priorities set and is well researched, it is more likely he will purchase the vehicle after just one test ride. So it becomes imperative for the dealerships to present all required information easily to their consumers through various sources and assist them well in their purchase journey.

Establishing a product-level connection also includes delivering a superior service experience.

Some of the ways automakers and OEMs can ensure superior service are mentioned below:

(i) Proactive reminders to the customer for servicing and parts replacement.

(ii) Digital appointment setting with the service centers and dealers.

(iii) Automated fault detection in the car.

(iv) Auto estimate preparation for the service entailed.

(v) Auto payments for the services to the dealerships and service centers.

(vi) Autonomous cars driving to service stations and back without interference from the customer.

Key benefits of digital transformation for manufacturers and OEMs

1. Improved campaign effectiveness

“The secret to developing personalized campaigns that will reach the right customers in the right moments is data. In the digital age in which we live, we must live and breathe data.”
~ Shashi Seth, Sr. Vice President of Oracle Marketing Cloud

The biggest advantage of increased customer touchpoints and a multitude of data is the number of accurate information companies could get about the customer. They can now leverage the power of technology and advanced software tools to run personalized and targeted advertisements. It gives the capability to adjust the messaging to individual customers for increased engagements during a campaign.

2. Build customer satisfaction

Manufacturers and OEMs can reduce the overall transaction time using customer insights to connect and extend key business processes. Digital transformation gives an opportunity to provide an enterprise-class, comprehensive, cross-channel solution for managing the complete loyalty life cycle of the customers. Dealerships can now track, reward, and recognize customer behavior in every aspect. This includes tracking and analyzing repeat purchases of products, referrals, social activities, and business with loyalty partners.

3. Increase prospect generation

Running personalized targeted campaigns ensures proper incentives are offered to customers who demonstrate a higher willingness to purchase specific products. It also helps in delivering adaptive, intelligent recommendations through optimized analytics and algorithms.

4. Achieve the coveted 360-degree view of the customer

Digital transformation with proper partners ensures you have single cloud analytics and data platform. It helps you visualize a single, consolidated view of the customer through their entire lifecycle journey. You can now reap maximum benefits after providing the best experiences to your customers.

Look beyond the horizon

The digital transformation in the automotive industry is bringing some big changes for automakers worldwide. It opens up a vast level playing field for all the automotive players. The industry incumbents need to come out of their comfort zones and match stride for stride with technology to succeed. The automakers need to better understand the customer experience demands of their new-gen mobility customers so that they can be provided with new value opportunities.

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Customer Experience Digital Transformation Real Estate

How Digital in PropTech is boosting value for the Real Estate Stakeholders

Digital has played a role in the real estate business for several years now – but largely in the area of selling properties. Digital marketing as an outreach to find prospects, use of technology in creating 3D-walkthroughs were among the common use cases. Later the sector started leveraging technology to enhance customer experience – the role of technology could be seen in home automation, ‘e-homes’ and shared economy as seen in the rise of Airbnb, WeWork among others.

Over the last few years, the umbrella term PropTech has come to cover the use of digital technology in construction technology, property management, interior design and sales & marketing of properties. CXOs also see digital transformation as an imperative in the property market. As with many other sectors, COVID-19 pandemic has forced all the stakeholders of the real estate market to seek digital solutions.

PropTech – Emergence & Evolution

Short for ‘technology in the property domain’, PropTech is expected to meet the changing needs of the real estate ecosystem in the digital world. Today’s PropTech goes beyond online search and leverages virtual reality, augmented reality, drones, and Internet of Things (IoT), seamlessly integrating with the realty sector, optimizing the way people purchase, sell and use a property.

The amalgamation of the tech industry with real estate helps all parties involved – investors, developers, real estate agents, and property management companies. PropTech attempts to make the realty industry easier, efficient, and easier to navigate.

According to research firm CREtech, global investment in real estate technology start-ups and more established players reached $14 billion by the middle of 2019, rising from $12.7 billion in 2017.

As with many other domains COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the PropTech too with increased interest and investments across sales and marketing, shared economy, interior design services, furniture rentals, and construction technology. According to a Housing.com survey, in India, 37 percent of the potential homebuyers are confident to buy a home completely online with a single on-ground site visit.

PropTech: Making an impact around the world

In the US, technology has traditionally played a role in home buying primarily through online search and connecting potential buyers with brokers. Of late technology has increased the dependence on sophisticated data to drive decisions, assess home value, and find ideal buyers. Adding to this are the emerging concepts of co-working and co-living that represent the largest group of today’s home buyers, which are driving real estate enterprises towards technology adoptions changing the landscape of digitized realty.

The next generation of real estate enterprises is already disrupting existing systems and creating new ones that address the customers’ growing demand for affordability, community, and flexibility. Companies like Better promise to ‘fix a broken business model’ by promising lower commission and fees.

Better Real Estate girl calling over phone

Even in the commercial realty space, we see realtors focusing on providing digital experience to the customers. Recently, SL Green Corp Manhattan’s largest office landlord announced the launch of Summit One Vanderbilt, a new, innovative destination that combines unparalleled vistas, curated multi-sensory experiences and cutting-edge technology to offer an unprecedented guest experience spanning art, nature, and design. Offering an interactive experience, this new destination intends to redefine the way people experience the intersection between nature and the built environment.

The real estate & property tech industry has attracted investor interest too and the offerings are diverse:

  • Flyhomes, an end-to-end home buying start-up, raised $150mn in Series C funding in June 2021. It is a real estate brokerage platform and aims to help clients through the entire homebuying process.
  • Guest House stages shoppable homes, offering the furniture and décor used to stage the home for sale.
  • A startup, Cortex is helping commercial buildings to de-carbonize. It’s machine learning capabilities work with human interventions in optimizing energy utilizations of a building. It claims to have helped Empire State Building save $800K per year in energy costs
  • Compass is among the biggest in this category. It went public recently and provides an online platform for buying, renting, and selling real estate assets. They claim to provide simplicity and transparency for agents, sellers and buyers. In 2019, they enhanced their digital experience adding AI-powered recommendations, ‘a visual workspace that allows agents and clients to collaborate, discuss, and monitor the market in real-time’, search facilities across local and multiple geographies, dynamic map search and more. Such seamless digital experiences simplify the lives of all the stakeholders in the prop tech industry.

 

 

 

Compass App layout screenshots

Source

In Asia, as recently as 2019, KPMG concluded that property organizations may still be behind the curve in developing an enterprise-wide digital and innovation strategy. However, industry professionals were confident that use of technology could produce efficiency gains across their common pain points.

Big data analytics, artificial intelligence, business process automation and the Internet of Things are likely to be the top technologies for Asia’s property industry over the next five years. According to PropTech CBRE, around 151 of China’s top 200 real estate companies have already digitized their processes. South East Asia is also home to serious players across services in the property segment – Capitaland, PropertyGuru and iProperty to name a few.

India is another market where PropTech is gaining traction. In 2020, the domain received nearly $551mn in investments. The players in the domain offer diverse services including selling & buying of property, peer-to-peer property listing platforms, a marketplace for the construction materials industry and more. Recently, India’s first PropTech syndicate fund was announced by Brigade REAP, a real-estate accelerator program which aims to invest in start-ups looking to raise up to $500K in early-stage funding.

Europe too has seen massive investment in the PropTech sector. According to a March 2020 report, sector funding grew 550% in five years to €550mn with the UK claiming the biggest share. Here too, modular construction, student living, co-living and software for construction project management attracted investments.

Technology in the property ecosystem

With changing dynamics and customer demands, there are several areas where aspects of PropTech can play a role:

Home Automation: thanks to efforts from brands like Apple & Google, home automation has acquired a cool quotient. The smart phone can be used to control lighting to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Home & office security, multimedia integration and personalized spaces are other use cases of automation.

Construction: constructing a property requires a lot of planning, risk analysis, forecasting, and cost estimation. This entire exercise could be optimized with the help of PropTech. This increases accuracy and efficiency, enabling faster project completion.

Purchase & rental: the traditional house hunting exercise can be arduous and time taking, and the results are often dissatisfactory. PropTech apps and online portals enable agents and investors to choose their property as per their custom requirements.

Co-working: such workspaces benefit owners as well as agents owing to cost-efficiency. PropTech helps the administration keep a track of its members and their payments along with other integrated services.

Workflow optimization: planning, building, operation and maintenance of construction projects involves collecting data, tracking tasks, documentation and reports. The entire process can be streamlined and managed digitally. PlanRadar is one such offering available across platforms and devices.

Emerging trends in PropTech

As with other industries where there are diverse players in the ecosystem, technology can add value to all in PropTech – sellers, agents, investors, owners, and tenants. Let’s look at some of the technologies and their role:

Big Data

Real estate enterprises are flooded with customer data which when analyzed properly can provide insights to create customized solutions and improve customer service. By analyzing patterns and probabilities, Big Data can play a role in mitigating risks. Property owners can plan activities by analyzing weather, traffic and environment data. Brand owners can derive insights to run media campaigns and advertise the property to the right target audience at the right time. It can also help customize the ads and its placement as per the customer needs which can help create brand affinity.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Automating rule-based repetitive processes has simplified various tasks across operations. Leveraging AI and Machine Learning in reality have shown various benefits such as simplifying repetitive tasks and streamlining data management, identifying customer preferences & creating suggestions, deriving insights & using them for advertising campaigns. Lastly, using chatbots to provide 24/7 customer services and support.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is software through which prospective buyers, renters, and investors are provided a virtual property tour alleviating the need to visit the actual property. It provides a 360-degree view of the property and opens the market to more buyers and is also a cost-efficient method to check and select properties.

Drones

Drones help view and record external features of the property, providing an outlook to interested clients saving them time and money. Unlike images and brochures, drones provide high-resolution aerial images, providing the actual view of the property. It can help present the entire location and surrounding areas. Drones are also used to deliver materials and even in bricklaying.

Sustainable Technology

As per the United Nations, real estate accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s energy consumption and a third of all carbon emissions. As the need for green business models increases, real estate enterprises support and advocate the construction and purchase of greener properties and systems to manage them. Sustainable technologies help realtors provide their customers with the best of properties without exhausting natural resources.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Several industries have been disrupted by SaaS products – which are cloud based solutions allowing users to access relevant data through browsers or apps. In PropTech too, SaaS can play a role in project management, sales and marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), financial transactions and property management.

Blockchain

Blockchain technology is used to store data and acts as a repository of deals and contracts for future reference. It reduces the use of paper and improves transparency, which is one of the main causes of disputes in the real estate industry.

3D Printing

Although in a nascent stage, 3D printing holds promise as it offers speed as a key benefit. Dubai aims to make real estate development more efficient by making every new building 25% 3D-printed by 2030. In India, a start-up built a 3D-printed house recently.

Future of PropTech

Although the pandemic has had a huge impact on the real estate business, it has also accelerated technology adoption amongst real estate industry leaders and start-ups alike. The emergence and evolution of PropTech are considered a boon at such unprecedented times, as they have helped real estate enterprises thrive during, and post the COVID-19 era. There are various opportunities in reality where technology could be leveraged to provide a better service to the customers and simplify business processes leading to greater impact for all – the enterprises, agents, investors and end consumers.

New emerging technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing and Blockchain are redefining the way real estate enterprises are functioning today. However, what determines the future of PropTech is in its ability to simplify user experiences while ensuring safety. If PropTech enterprises can deliver this, the marriage between real estate and technology will be a lasting one and continue to shape the future of real estate in years to come.

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Customer Experience Design Thinking Digital Transformation Fintech Media & Entertainment

Multiexperience: the imperative for every CXO for 2021 and beyond

‘People buy from those who they trust’ is an adage that is timeless both in the offline and online world. Whether it is the familiar neighborhood store or an enterprise in the online world, earning consumer trust has always provided an edge – helping in customer retention and loyalty.

The trust factor came into play even more so in 2020 which has been tumultuous, to say the least. The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of people and enterprises alike in a manner we never imagined or prepared for. While several industries have been adversely affected (e.g. restaurants, amusement parks, cinema halls) many others have benefited. Digital banking, fintech services, streaming video services, EdTech, online delivery are some of the categories which have seen usage surge in 2020. The one factor which binds all the brands we turned to during this time has been the trust and familiarity factor.

As mentioned by McKinsey, particularly in times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty. They go on to say:

‘Now is also the time for customer experience (CX) leaders to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term shifts in consumer behavior that result from this crisis. Keeping a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences and rapidly innovating to redesign journeys that matter to a very different context will be key.’

Years ago, the proliferation of digital platforms, channels, and devices led to the concept of multi-channel experience – which essentially meant presence across multiple channels. It was essentially a checklist approach of presence across digital platforms.

It later progressed to omnichannel – when such brand experiences were ‘connected’ across channels. Banks and retail enterprises were among those leading the call for such omnichannel experiences as can be seen by their efforts to have a presence through a physical store or branch, a website, and a mobile app. Starbucks and Disney are among the many brands which aced the omnichannel strategy.

Beyond omnichannel – the multiexperience advantage

As devices, platforms, and technologies proliferated over the years, consumer habits, dependencies, and expectations changed too. In order to address these changes effectively, Gartner proposed a change in mindset, espousing multiexperience as a new approach.

It calls for a customer journey-centric approach providing multisensory, multimodal, and seamless experiences. It calls for crafting seamless and native experiences across an increasing number of touchpoints – whichever mode the customer is comfortable with. It could be voice, chatbots, personal assistants, wearables, and augmented or virtual reality. In simple terms, multiexperience is taking the brands or products where the customers are and allowing them to engage as part of their user journeys.

The key is to get all this done without friction and using that platform, touchpoint, or interactions feature to the maximum benefit. At a glance, the difference between multichannel, omnichannel, and multiexperience would look like this:

Beyond omnichannel - the multiexperience advantage

The critical difference is the consistency of the digital experience and the seamless handover from one device to another mode, without the hassle of starting off all over again. Dennis Maloney, Chief Digital Officer at Domino’s Pizza said:

“What’s the easiest way to order? When you don’t have to do anything.”.

Domino’s Pizza’s ‘Anyware’ platform allows users to order in 11 different ways – from voice assistants to smart TV. The focus is on letting the consumer do less to place an order and from as many devices and modes as possible.

Domino’s Pizza’s

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Another example of such a seamless experience is being planned on Google Maps which was hitherto only seen as a navigation aid. Today, it is being re-imagined as a means to gather information such as cab fares, show real-time ‘crowdedness’ information, and live food delivery status.

Multiexperience also requires backend applications to be micro-services enabled so that re-usable components are created to make them digital-ready. The microservices architecture is based on a collection of interconnected services. They are easier to build and maintain, and focus on business capabilities while enhancing productivity, speed, and scalability.

Why multiexperience? Winning the two big wars.

‘Change is the only constant’ maybe a cliche but never has the pace of change been so accelerated as in the digital age. Who would have thought that several industries would be upended when technology and great customer experience come together? Fintech, utility services, food delivery, aggregators across taxi services, and more have benefitted from fulfilling customer needs through great digital experiences.

These developments have forced legacy brands across segments to re-look at their business model and customer experience. Product or service parity is common across categories leaving little or no room for real, meaningful product differences. The only edge very often is customer experience. And as we live in an experience economy, this becomes core to a business strategy and not just limited to optimizing technologies or user experience.

At Robosoft, we recently crafted a multiexperience OTT platform for Discovery+. Viewers are evolving and methods of consuming content are fast changing. Brands today are constantly battling for user attention and time. This combined shift in the OTT space led us to the creation of a unified and effortless experience for Discovery Plus. With users owning more than one device, the goal was to design and deliver a consistent experience across devices, regardless of where the user starts, continues, and ends the journey.

Multiexperience OTT platform for Discovery+

The other big war afoot is the one to win consumer’s trust. In the digital world, it is said that winning consumer’s attention is important. But I would argue that beyond mere attention, enterprises should strive to win consumer trust – as that is what leads to retention and consumer loyalty. Design can play a role in retaining customers, especially in businesses where subscription and repeat purchases are critical.

In the post COVID world, it is imperative that CXOs embrace the multiexperience mindset and craft effortless and seamless experiences that enable customer delight and win their trust.

This article was originally published at Linkedin Pulse under my LinkedIn handle – Ravi Teja Bommireddipalli

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Customer Experience Design Thinking Digital Transformation Media & Entertainment

Key factors to consider while designing an OTT platform in 2021

The script of the media and entertainment sector is getting re-written, as the content consumption patterns of consumers see a tectonic shift in a post COVID world. While the gradual move of consumers towards OTT mediums was already underway, the lockdowns, need for social distancing, dearth of other entertainment avenues accelerated this momentum.

The average time spent on subscription OTT and Video-on-Demand content in the US alone has risen by 23% from last year.

As viewership skews towards OTT, more and more media and entertainment players are launching their OTT platforms. According to a recent Research Dive report, many digital media and broadcast providers have stepped up their efforts to build new channels for consumers to access different types of content. We recently partnered with the leading infotainment brand Discovery, to launch their OTT platform Discovery+ for the Indian market. The app received close to 3 million downloads within just 4 months of its launch.

With existing OTT players stepping-up their game with richer content, personalized experience, and more, the new entrants have stiff competition ahead. In this article, we will outline the factors that will help enterprises build a successful OTT platform.

Key factors to consider while creating a successful OTT platform

The journey of any digital product development starts from understanding the users’ needs and pain points, ideating on a solution that will address these needs, and finally developing a user and business-centric product.

In this article, we will outline the journey of creating an OTT platform in two phases: (a) Research & prototyping and (b) Execution & implementation.

Getting started – Competitor Research, User Research & Prototyping

At Robosoft, we use the principles of Design Thinking to create user-centric experiences – which start from empathizing with and understanding the users. In that context, user research and competition research become critical aspects to understand the business and customer requirements.

1. Competitor research

With the deluge of OTT platforms, it becomes important to understand the competitive landscape. This will not only help in outlining features that already exist and work but will also help in avoiding the shortfalls of other platforms. Knowing the competition is also critical to offer something better and unique and gain a competitive advantage.

For instance: in OTT platforms – ‘Add to Watchlist’ or ‘Like’ is a common feature. However, just trying to replicate the same model is insufficient. In order to create the differentiator, we need to delve deeper into the world of ‘favoriting’ and what makes the user want to add a particular content to a list

In this instance, some of the key aspects we need to understand about what is already being offered can be:

  • The value of a watchlist and how it works
  • UX flows – how to keep the viewer moving forward while making it quick and easy
  • How to help viewers feel smart and put their mind at ease
  • How to improve the disadvantages & limitations.

An understanding of such factors will help in creating a differentiation in UX, even while offering the same features.

OTT platforms

We kept such in mind when we built the Discovery+ app, ‘Continue Watching, Favorites & Watch Later’ features were added. Once the user likes or favorites something, they get a notification for similar content or new episodes and populates the home screen basis the user’s likes/favorites.

2. User research & prototyping

To design user-centric experiences, understanding users is critical. One of the most important stages of user research is creating Empathy Maps that enables design and development teams to chart out users’ motivation and pain points. In the context of OTT platforms, user research can help to derive the below expectations of users:

Expectations from an OTT platform: as a user

  • see value in what is offered before making a decision.
  • keep moving forward while watching content; it can be shifting from one episode to another or an alternate movie or series after a season.
  • seamlessly navigate through the platform or complete their journeys (e.g. from logging in to paying).
  • feel self-reliant or empowered and have their minds at ease while using the platform.

Prototyping

Once both competitive and user research is done, the findings can help in creating a high, medium, or low fidelity prototype of the proposed solution. Prototyping is the stage where a representative model is built to validate its viability and experience. It can help in testing various features and get quick feedback from users and iterating the solution accordingly. Keeping the final outcome in mind is the most important aspect of this stage.

For example: while testing a new live racing experience for GCN’s (Global Cycling Network) VoD app, our team had the below goals in mind and created flows to evaluate them accordingly:

Goals for user research

  • Identify any aspects that might cause the user to abandon the viewing experience.
  • Understand which aspects provide value and which do not.
  • Gauge how the sports enthusiasts feel about such a feature.
  • Explore how easy it is to navigate across the journey.
  • Understand the sports enthusiasts mindset and expectations to subscribe for such a feature.

The feedback ranged from excitement for the feature to quick suggestions on how we can improve the prototype. This helped us to build faster and build something that the cyclists and cycling enthusiasts will expect from the platform.

Execution and implementation

1. UX of content

With the proliferation of content on the OTT platforms, the challenge for OTT players is to ensure an easy experience. The faster and easily users can get to the content they like, the more likely they are to stay on. Some of the factors that help in this are:

  • A clear segregation of the content types: since content is key on OTT platforms, the experience to discover and view the content has to be delightful and seamless. Clear segregation of content types helps in this aspect.
  • Different treatment of content categories: live content and VoD content (VOD – Shows, Movies, or clips).

  • Easing the content discovery journey by defining clear navigation to browse content and finding what to watch and creating clear sections for premium, short-form content.UX of content
  • Clear categorization by language, type of content (Movies, TV Shows, genres, audience segments).

UX of content

2. Design System

As designs evolve, OTT players will need to think about building thoughtful design systems. A well-defined design system can help create well-designed user-centric digital products. While colors and typography play an important role, how the interfaces are built help to tell the whole story. This is where the Atomic Design system comes into play.

In an Atomic Design, interfaces are made up of smaller components. This means the entire interface can be broken down into fundamental building blocks and built up from there.

For example: for Discovery+, we created the design from scratch using the Atomic Design system to build a unified and consistent design that is scalable.

3. Personalized User Experience

In the digital era, users expect a personalized experience from all their digital interactions. Here are a few ways in which OTT players get their personalization game right:

AI-powered recommendation engine

Building a robust recommendation engine is the key aspect of creating a personalized user experience. More than 80 percent of the TV shows people watch on Netflix are discovered through the platform’s recommendation system. Netflix uses machine learning and algorithms to help go beyond viewers’ preconceived notions and find shows that might not have been their first choice, but they will like. The data that Netflix feeds into its algorithms can be broken down into two types – implicit and explicit.

Examples of ‘explicit data’ will be giving a thumbs up for a show. ‘Implicit data’ is behavioral data; for instance, if a viewer binged on a show and completed watching it in two nights, the engine understands that behaviourally. The majority of useful data is implicit.

AI-powered recommendation engine

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Personalized upsell and retention packages

Today’s subscribers want services that are personalized at every stage of the experience from sign-up to discovery, viewing, and renewals. Thus, personalization should permeate beyond content and include the entire user journey on the app. Today a user is constantly toggling between multiple devices while accessing the platform. Developers will need to take into account data from these sources to notify the user about the upsell and the renewal offers. That also includes giving the user the power to make choices.

Device management is another aspect of creating a personalized experience. Allowing users to choose multiple devices, streaming quality options, renewal options tailored to their choices, etc. can help in elevating user experience and ensure retention.

Personalized upsell and retention packages

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4. Elevating user experience through easy navigation

Even if an OTT platform has an awesome content library, if users find it difficult to navigate through it they will abandon the app. According to a research, 80% percent of users uninstall an app due to a bad user experience. Here are a few factors that lead to a great user experience:

Easy onboarding and simplifying the journey

It is critical to make the onboarding process quick and easy. In that context, app owners should only ask for essential personal details and permissions and stick to the key features and UI elements that are absolutely necessary.

Tech-savvy users might not want to be hand-held through the onboarding process. In that context, giving users the option to skip becomes a critical aspect. In fact, music video streaming app Vevo found that adding a skip option to their onboarding flow increased logins by nearly 10%.

Preview app content

Another way to speed up the process and make the onboarding process quick and interesting is to allow users to experience the app before asking them to sign up or taking them on a product tour. Hotstar previews popular content and lists membership benefits on the very first screen — and they feature a prominent free trial button. Going one step ahead – Netflix now lets users turn off autoplay previews. That means videos and movies won’t begin to play trailers or video clips as they are looking for something to watch. Users can turn it off on every device at once.

Preview app content

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5. Intuitive UI and simplified viewing experience

Intuitive UI simplifies every aspect of the process. In the case of OTT platforms, it is important to not just simplify the process of discovering content but also watching. Some key features to get that right are:

  • Giving the flexibility to switch on-and-off the subtitles option.
  • Information about the quality of video and data consumption.
  • Option to resume from where the user left off.
  • Quick and easy buttons for start, stop, rewind, fast forward.

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6. Building a multi-experience for users

Today viewers are consuming content on multiple devices. Seamless delivery of content on multiple devices is no longer an option for OTT players, it is mandatory.

While building the Discovery+ platform, the goal was to design and deliver a consistent experience across devices, regardless of where the user starts, continues, and ends the journey.

Building a multi-experience for users

Casting to a larger screen is another opportunity that can enhance user experience and help in driving the value for viewers. The Discovery+ app has the casting feature which is an easy way of connecting web, tablet, and mobile to a TV. The feature allows users to enjoy a big-screen experience with family and friends.

Another important aspect of adding value to users’ on-the-go viewing experience is by giving control of watching content at their convenience without the limitation of internet speed. In that case, the option for downloading the video for watching later enables the user to engage with the app and the content they like whenever they want.

Offline Mode

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7. Subscription models

A subscription model provides predictable and recurring revenue for a long-term engaged user base. Subscription strategies allow OTT platforms for price diversification, accommodating a broader, diversified income group of users over a fixed ‘one-price-for-all’ model. However, it is critical to choose a subscription model that fits the requirements of the viewers. For instance, most broadcast players getting into OTT have a yearly and monthly plan with free trials or free access to regular content. On the other hand, established players like Netflix will have subscription models that are only yearly or monthly.

On Discovery+ the subscription model that was built-in was ‘free unlimited access to regular content’. However, to view premium content, an additional fee is charged. On Global Cycling Network, users can buy a monthly or yearly race pass to get unlimited access to the best cycling content.

Subscription models

8. Easy Payment gateway integration

With a plethora of payment options available, making this step easy is important. Major OTT apps accept payments through credit or debit cards, digital wallets, and real-time payment systems where available. Further, these platforms bill users every month on the same day making the payment cycle easy.

9. Push notifications

Push notifications are an essential part of the user experience and can ensure continuous engagement with viewers. However, badly done push notifications can also lead to users abandoning the app. According to a survey, 71% of all app uninstalls are triggered by a push notification. Here are a few factors to get push notifications right:

  • Make personalized and relevant to the user.
  • Sending notifications in the engagement windows and at the local time zone of the user.
  • Send actionable notifications to drive engagement.
  • Don’t send too many notifications in a short duration.

Push notifications

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In conclusion:

As OTT becomes increasingly popular, more and more entertainment and media firms will develop their own OTT platforms to engage with the viewers. While the variety and quality of the content will be important to acquire new viewers, UI/UX will play a decisive role in retaining them. In the future with newer technologies, we will see interesting innovations in the OTT sector, but a simple and delightful user experience will remain the most important factor that will define the success of any OTT platform.

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Customer Experience Digital Transformation Enterprise Applications Fintech Insurance

FinServe trends post COVID-19: Multiexperience, Embedded banking, Platformification, Personalization & More

Like many other industries COVID-19 significantly impacted the Banking & Financial Services Industry too. Though the lockdown norms are being relaxed slowly, customer behavior has changed drastically. Customers no longer visit offline branches to conduct their financial transactions. They are wary of venturing outside their homes and for them to regain confidence in the in-person branch visits will not happen soon. As a result, financial institutions are forced to focus their customer targeting efforts on channels that are readily available via digital mediums.

The fact of the matter is for banks, financial institutions, and insurance companies, the face to face interaction that worked well in offline branches has to be maintained online. This is seen as a huge challenge for them. Hence, there needs to be a total shift in company tactics that can somehow retain that human connection with customers. The financial sector is poised to undergo a drastic change in the near future and customers should be ready for that change.

Let us take a look back in the pre-COVID19 period as a tipping point between the new normal and the post-COVID era. In a recent research conducted by the Digital Banking Report around digital transformation, customer experience, use of data and advanced analytics, innovation, and technology, it was clear that the financial industry leaders already knew what needed to be done, and in many cases, how to proceed. With COVID19 the pace of adapting and digitally evolving has accelerated, bringing a new opportunity as well to build loyalty among consumers.

In the new normal, financial institutions witnessed an environment where the way work, how consumers bank, how employees learn new skills and how brands are perceived are all different. The degree to which these changes take root is driven by both business and societal dynamics as well as how long it takes to move to a new equilibrium.

In a special report, After the Virus, Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work examines the implications of COVID-19 five years from now as it relates to work, education, entertainment, e-commerce, human engagement, and the environmental agenda. The report presents some interesting insights to lay a foundation of what the banking industry must do to fast forward their business strategy and keep abreast with the changing consumer behavior and better position themselves as future-ready.

In this article, we will take a look at some critical factors that financial institutions and banks need to take on an immediate basis to adapt to the new normal and remain competitive.

Critical factors for financial institutions and banks to adapt to the new normal and remain competitive

Multi-experience for financial services will remain to be top technology trends in 2020

As per Gartner reports, Multiexperience remains to be amongst the top technology trends of 2020 and is poised to replace technology-literate people with people-literate technology. Instead of people getting accustomed to the evolving technologies, it will so happen that the technology will evolve to understand the people better.

Multi-experience is all about leveraging various modalities, digital touchpoints, apps, and devices to design and develop a seamless experience for the customers. The idea is to interact with the customers at as many touchpoints as possible to offer a consistent customer experience across the web, mobile, app, and other modalities.

We need to take note that multi-experience is not omnichannel. While omnichannel involves tapping the user touchpoints across all the channels, multi-experience is about developing effortless customer experiences across apps, websites, and modalities of voice, touch, and text, irrespective of the channel.

The key difference between omnichannel and multi-experience is the core. Omnichannel is all about technology, whereas, multi-experience is all about people. This difference marks the shift from technology-literate people to people-literate technology.

Here’s a four-step multi-experience model proposed by Jason Wong, Research Vice President to apply multi-experience to a digital user journey:

  • Sync me: Storing a user’s information, which the user can find and access anytime.
  • See me: Understanding a user’s context, location, situation, historical preferences, and then offering better information and interaction to the user.
  • Know me: Using predictive analytics to make suggestions to the user
  • Be me: Acting on the user’s behalf, when given permission, and making the best decision for the user.

If we talk about financial services, Fintech is promoting a vision of a world without banks. Blockchains and cryptocurrencies are funding transactions without paper money or credit cards. Robo-advisers are providing portfolio management without managers. Mobile payments are turning phones into credit cards. The ability of upstart companies to provide high-performing web experiences is not hindered by legacy infrastructure — or legacy business models.

Customers want a fast, seamless, immersive, cross-channel digital experience that satisfies, and even anticipates, their needs. This is especially true of millennials, a generation quickly becoming the dominant demographic. Combine millennials’ expectations of brands in general with their fundamentally different banking and investing habits, and it’s clear that FSIs must adapt to those needs and requirements.

It’s not enough to provide exceptional experiences just for basic online activities. FSIs must prove themselves by offering complex activities, such as applying for a loan or configuring products. As institutions offer ever-more complex digital transactions, the focus on performance only increases. The reality is that today’s engaged consumers — influenced by their daily interactions on social media and other platforms — expect all sites and apps to be high performing and lightning-fast.

Not only digital but embedded banking services is the need of an hour

While not every consumer will want to do all of their banking digitally, most will expect that option in the future. Some of the banking services will include opening a new account, changing the terms of a loan, reaching a bank representative, etc. The experience must go beyond ‘just digital’ to become both seamless, simple, and user-friendly. With this, the core business of banks and financial institutions will encounter the next level of challenge. There is a question if banking will be controlled only by banks? As the challenge remains to be that customers will demand banking services to be available and integrated with different points of sale, devices, service providers etc. In short, banking services are expected to be embedded into virtually anything and everything.

Additionally, it leads to the discussion on banking service being offered in SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model, pay-per-usage, subscriptions, renewals, etc. However, these terms were never traditionally associated with banking services, gradually there is growing customer demand for such a flexible approach to payments, investments, loans and other such banking services.

Contextual engagement and personalization of Banking & Financial Services

The expectation of real-time personalized offers and messages has increased dramatically. This requires a 360-degree view of the customer journey and advanced analytics to deliver solutions across channels. Personalization is currently the number #1 banking marketing trend. While the financial sector lags in adoption of personalized customer experiences techniques, consumer loyalty is at stake if more financial institutions don’t reimagine their efforts. To note, choose financial institutions based on how well they incorporate personalized experiences.

Certain banks are taking tips from retailers on personalized customer experiences by using data analytics, coupled with artificial intelligence (AI), to offer customers personalized experiences. As per Everfi’s banking trends for 2020, international banks like the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Royal Bank of Scotland use a model of “next best action” to follow consumers’ financial journeys, predict the future financial products or services they might need, and personalize product offerings and advice to each consumers’ unique situation or life stage.

Banking trends emphasize personalized experiences through Chatbots, and Mobile Apps

  • S. banks are using fintech in creative ways to appeal to a generation raised by technology. A mobile app packed with features is top on their list. Nearly 80 percent of consumers prefer using a single app to manage their finances.
  • More than a million Bank of America customers use an AI bot named Erica that is available through their app. Erica helps customers pay bills, shop, and more.
  • Citibank recently released a mobile app, 360º Financial View, that aggregates online financial tools and investments, even those outside Citibank. Citibank provides the all-in-one app to both current and potential customers. This allows Citibank to expand their market reach by advertising their products and services. It also gives users the option to open a new Citibank account.

It’s no surprise that personalized customer experiences dramatically improve the bottom line. Financial institutions that implemented the next best action model saw a 30 to 40% increase in sales. By anticipating customer needs and catering to them with personalized offerings, financial institutions are able to generate increased revenue, all the while meeting customer expectations around personalized experiences with their trusted banking institutions.

Digitally infused branches and platformification approach

As already adopted in other industries, financial institutions especially banks need to look beyond the standard set of services and consider platform solutions to assist consumers during select customer journeys for example; car buying, investing, loans, home purchase, etc.) They can consider their bank website to be the ‘main branch’ and all offline branches will act as secondary branches for the time being.

A financial institution’s website will be the primary go-to branch for customers where they can seek all kinds of information. The website will address all their needs and concerns just like any offline branch. If person-to-person interaction is needed, virtual consultation with the branch staff needs to be arranged. With this eventually, financial institutions can expect the number of offline branches to be reduced considerably.

But even with a few offline branches, a few leading organizations try to bring back the heyday for branches by making them engaging hangouts with increased digital services — from interactive kiosks to digital financial education modules and more.

 

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Branches will provide great opportunities to engage customers and provide highly personalized financial education.  We can also expect further investment in employee training and branch redesigns as they will continue to deploy digital financial tools.

Financial institutes prefer a new channel mix to enhance customer experience

With the potential for many consumers to work remotely indefinitely, financial institutions and banks opt for a new set of delivery channels which may include voice devices, video conferencing options, IoT devices, gamification methods, etc. The proliferation of mobile devices and shifting preferences among demographic groups mean that customers expect more real-time, cross-channel capabilities (such as status inquiries and problem resolution) than ever before. Physical distribution will still be relevant but far less important, and banks must learn to deliver services with a compelling design and a seamless unconventional customer experience.

As per a McKinsey report, banks have recognized that customer expectations are increasingly being set by nonbanks. There are questions to be answered like why does a mortgage application take weeks to process? Why does it take an extra week (or two) to get a debit card online versus in a branch? Why can’t a customer make a real-time payment from his or her phone to split a dinner check? There is an urgent need for banks to respond to these questions by improving their customer experience and meeting their customers’ changing expectations. Financial services is the only business where you can be rejected as a customer. In an age where mobile devices provide real-time transparency on just about everything, it is critical to provide customers with information about the status of an application or what other documents are required. Account balances must be consistent across channels, and banks should consider the real time updating that an on-demand e-commerce application like Amazon provides and aim to deliver that level of transparency when it matters. Working on such innovation provides opportunities for banks to improve and differentiate their customers’ cross-channel and cross-product experiences.

Contactless technology will ignite a cashless payment surge

In a recent Capgemini Consumer Behavior Survey conducted in April 2020 done for COVID-19 and the financial services consumer, states that in the post Covid19 era digital channels and contactless technology is preferred by consumers which will ignite a cashless payment surge. More than 52% said they prefer self-service bank mobile apps during the Covid-19 outbreak as compared to 47% before the virus pandemic. Similarly, 54% say they are conducting bank transactions over the internet during the pandemic. For the insurance sector, channels such as the firm’s website (27%) and social media (26%) remained the top interaction choices for policyholders, a noticeable jump in numbers in comparison to before the Covid-19 scenario.

Image Source

Additionally the report mentions that banks, governments, regulators and banking associates minimize one-on-one contact and encourage customers to use contact-free digital services. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended contactless payments versus cash, if possible, as a way to limit the spread of the virus that may linger on paper currency. In countries like China, banks are using ultraviolet light or high temperatures to disinfect Yuan bills, then sealing and storing the cash for one to two weeks before recirculation – depending on the severity of the outbreak in a particular region.

Financial firms offer waivers, donate services and business continuity support

Banks and insurers, FinTechs, InsurTechs, and BigTechs are stepping up – worldwide to waive off charges on digital transactions, or offer a moratorium on loan or insurance coverage payments.

ICICI bank in India, launched ICICI Stack, a digital platform that offers nearly 500 services from retailers, FinTechs, and e-commerce merchants. China’s Ant Financial plans to open its payments platform Alipay to third parties, to provide business continuity during emergencies, and to become a part of customers’ digital lifestyle.

Citigroup (USA) is pushing proactive reminders and helpful instructions to customers about mobile and digital banking services. Other banks are taking steps such as fee waivers, payment deferrals, and loan modifications in response to customers’ changing circumstances. Insurers are also waiving out-of-pocket costs for treatment related to coronavirus. Many financial institutions offer community aid, donations and healthcare support to help overcome pandemic crises.

In Conclusion

Widespread adoption of new-age digital channels such as chatbots, automated voice assistants, and social media tools appears to be an inevitable truth for banks and financial institutes.

Throughout the unpredictable weeks and months ahead, the crisis-sparked surge in digital activity is bound to generate new customer habits that require banks and financial institutions to function online. Ultimately, the question is will full digital rein as the exclusive customer engagement channel? Not too likely, but it may become the primary channel that customers use to engage with banks and financial service providers. Each day of confinement promotes digital use, that begs another important question – Are Financial services incumbents ready to prioritize digital capabilities and offerings for success in a virtual world? The answer lies in the truth that the global pandemic has forced them to this reality and eventually shaped an enhanced customer experience.

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Customer Experience Digital Transformation

Beyond EdTech, the role of video and digital experience in Learning Management Solutions

The EdTech industry was a darling of the investment community even before the break of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to EdSurge, investment in US EdTech companies reached $1.66 billion across 105 deals in 2019, a five-year high in value. Interestingly, eight of the top deals went to companies that offer educational services to employers and employees, typically focused on training.

Developing nations such as India too saw a surge in adoption of EdTech and are home to unicorns such as BYJU’S and several other big players such as Vedantu and Toppr, among others. A few years ago, we at Robosoft had developed the Meritnation app – through which study material for classes 6th to 12th for various school boards could be accessed. We also partnered with Room to Read, a leading non-profit organization based in California, to create an interactive & feature-rich digital platform to foster a reading habit among children.

Over the past few years, consumer-focused online education platforms such as Coursera, Unacademy, Simplilearn and Udemy have seen a surge in adoption, primarily for vocational learning. Educational institutions had also invested in their own virtual learning platforms in the recent past. SP Jain School of Global Management’s Engaged Learning Online (ELO), launched in 2018 aimed to offer classroom-like interactive learning to MBA students across the globe. Harvard and Oxford have their own platforms in HBX and Hive respectively. NYU uses a multitude of interactive video and audio tools like NYU stream which is a media sharing platform for the NYU Community that allows NYU instructors to upload and share videos with students.

2020: when EdTech was disrupted

The COVID-19 pandemic upended the entire industry in ways they could not have imagined. Traditional product roadmaps were rendered defunct as the industry had to deal with an unprecedented demand, unique consumer requirements thus forcing them to adapt or implement changes quickly. Canvas, a learning management system prioritized backend engineering efforts so that the site stayed up amid a huge spike in traffic. They also strengthened video conferencing integrations as consumers turned to such features during periods of remote learning and working. Changes such as optimizing the user experience on mobile devices (the primary access device for many) and adapting to different paces of learning – asynchronous or live lessons, were also implemented.

Consumer-facing video conferencing solutions such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet (among others) have gained in popularity for such needs beyond just communications. Schools and colleges are also investing in bespoke interfaces and video communication solutions.

The digital experience – be it on the browser, native mobile app on a phone or tablet has become crucial in such a scenario. As with all customer experiences in digital, it all starts with following the basic tenets of Design Thinking – empathy for user’s needs. The user in this case can be digital natives such as students or ‘digital migrants’ such as teachers or parents.

Aside from educational institutions, enterprises too had to resort to remote ways of working. According to a recent McKinsey report, organizations are using digital learning to increase collaboration among teams that are working either remotely or across different time zones.

Digital learning

While video conferences became the norm, they had to find new ways to continue the process of onboarding and training without face-to-face meetings. Video streaming in real-time or access through a catalog has become the go-to mode to meet such objectives. This in turn is likely to have a huge impact on Learning Management Solutions (LMS) in the months to come.

Video content management & experience: the key to LMS across domains

The mobile phone, specifically video calling, was not just a device to connect people but solve business problems – way before the era of remote everything. We created a video chat based claim survey for a leading insurance provider in India, making it possible for them to assess claims in real-time and thus reduce turnaround times. Consumers are also attuned to video consumption over OTT services during the extended lockdown periods.

As enterprises continue to adopt technologies for remote learning and collaboration for employees, technology companies are amending their features and support. In the years to come, effective use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, VR, adaptive learning approaches, gamification will increase in LMS.

However, video is set to play a critical role in Learning Management Solutions across industries in the months & years to come. Here are a few use cases:

Learning Management Solutions across industries

Employee onboarding: many companies have declared that they will offer remote-working as an option forever – not just limited to the uncertainty during the current year. So what was a face-to-face opportunity for bonding & learning will now have to be managed remotely. According to a report from Kaltura – 90% of respondents reported having used video to learn new information at their current workplace, and close to 70% said they preferred this medium over written documents. The onus is on enterprises to then provide a digital experience that not only informs but brings alive the business culture, values and processes.

On-going training & learning: a well-crafted LMS can ensure continuous learning & skill development of employees. It can improve employee engagement through effective use of interactive elements such as quizzes, rewards and more.

Compliance training: compliance training is a mandatory, yet most dreaded of learning programs for employees. A video-enabled compliance training can help enterprises launch a learner-centered strategy for their remote workforce.

Sales enablement: front line business development executives can be educated about products & services, latest market trends through impactful video content

Customer education: aside from employees, a video-driven LMS can also help educate customers – especially if it is a complex software or a product that needs walk-throughs.

Partner training: interactive videos in an LMS can be an effective tool for partner training programs, and help business’ partners understand the features, branding, and selling techniques for products and service offerings of an enterprise.

Some of the common features that a Learning Management System should enable include:

  • Asynchronous learning: giving the option for users to learn at their own pace
  • Cross-device and platform compatibility: providing a seamless experience across web, mobile and tablet irrespective of the operating system
  • Ability to aid testing and assessment: in order to measure the effectiveness of the training modules and the employee’s progress the LMS should aid testing and assessment based on metrics agreed upon
  • Catalog of content: as course material and video content increase, the LMS should allow for easy search through an easy to use catalog feature
  • Microlearning videos: these are short videos that focus on one issue or learning point at a time, making it easy for employees to pick up the knowledge and go back to their office work.

So what are the critical factors to consider when choosing a partner to create a video-driven Learning Management Solution that best suits your needs? Expertise in the technology domain, experience in crafting diverse digital experiences, hands-on leadership are some of the desired qualities to look for. Working with offshore teams is also a great option as what were once considered to be obstacles are long gone.

A convergence of empathetic digital experience, video technologies, content management systems are in the offing for Learning Management Solutions beyond EdTech in the years to come.

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Customer Experience Design Thinking UX/UI

Prototyping for Designers

Good design’s not about what medium you’re working in. It’s about thinking hard about what you want to do and what you have to work with before you start.  – Susan Kare

Prototype is the stage where you build a representative model of your solution to validate its viability and experience. It can also help identify what is working and what the weak links are. In this article, we will outline some basics of prototyping, how to create and use them.

What is Prototyping?

Prototyping manages the process of creating solutions for the end-user without even having to look at the final product. With Low, Medium & High fidelity prototypes, one can easily picture an entire flow of how the user journey will look like. All this helps in conveying the look and feel of the final product.

What is Prototyping

How does it help?

Prototyping is one of the most important steps in the design process. It saves time, effort and cost on a project to validate a hypothesis and ascertain that the product design is in the right direction.

Before a final output is ready and the project is conceptualized. Prototyping helps designers bridge the gap between a conceptual and an actual product.

For designers

For designers, the mode of prototyping they choose varies from project to project. For instance, if there is a quick approval needed even a hand sketch (Low fidelity prototype) will do the job. But if the journeys and flows are extensive a high-level prototype is a must. It helps clear doubts with respect to user journeys, flows and IA (Information Architecture). A designer must have total control over the tools they use, for an excellent output.

For developers

A detailed prototype can help developers visualize a flow from start to end and quickly understand the roadblocks or the enablers that can help smoothen the app or web development. Developers can also recognize the challenges well in advance with a detailed prototype. Additionally, there are many other aspects, such as API availability, asset requirements, and basic structure of the page that a detailed prototype can help developers to be prepared with.

When to use Prototypes?

The prototyping phase is the testing ground – this is where the transition happens from being dogmatic to being experimental.

In its basic form, a prototype is an expression of design intent. Prototyping allows designers to present their designs and see them in action. In the context of digital products, a prototype is a simulation of the final interaction between the user and the interface. Depending on what a product team needs a prototype to do, it can simulate an entire app or just a single interaction.

When to use Prototypes?

The fidelity of a prototype refers to how it conveys the look-and-feel of the final product (i.e. visuals, content and interactivity)

An important aspect that should be mentioned here is that anybody can prototype. It is not something that needs to be restricted to a designer only.

Paper mockup

For creating a prototype, we can start with something as basic as a paper mockup. It is inexpensive, fast, and collaborative. A paper prototype can be first ideated on a whiteboard with all stakeholders and then sketched out on paper – it’s that simple.

This method does have its drawbacks though, like limited interactivity and uncertainty during testing, but it suffices for a preliminary test.

Monotone mockup

You then have the monotone mockup which can be static or interactive. An interactive mockup can also include the key transitions.

A designer can be the best judge for deciding the type of prototype that can be created basis what will appeal to the users and project stakeholders. Of course, time is of essence here.

High-fidelity prototypes

The high-fidelity prototypes on the other hand embody the brand, have a corresponding look and feel, clear call to actions, and continuity. These obviously have their own perks, of easy buy-in from and the decision makers, testability of specific functionalities, and richer feedback from users. However, they come with a high-cost implication and time factor.

Process from Wireframes to Clickable Prototypes

Wireframes are created in the early stage of the process and made before the visual design phase. Here the designers pay more attention to usability and functionality rather than aesthetics.

Process from Wireframes to Clickable Prototypes

Clickable Prototypes – Low & High Fidelity

A clickable low fidelity prototype is simple to create and has no interactions to showcase the user journey. High fidelity prototypes are easier to understand, with animations, micro-interactions, gestures, fully loaded content, almost equivalent to a final product.

Clickable Prototypes - Low & High Fidelity

Image source

There are several tools that will help build these high fidelity prototypes with features that help you animate your project the way you want. A few software products used by designers are detailed further.

Top 5 Prototyping Tools

Sketch

Sketch is one of the most popular and efficient prototyping tool for designing Web Interfaces and Mobile Apps. Create minimal and clutter-free designs.

Platform: Mac OS X

Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a perfect tool for UD designers. Easy switching between design and prototype. Also has Voice-enabled feature to create prototypes with voice.

Platforms: Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows

Invision

Invision can be used via sketch or other design tools using plugin CRAFT. Designers can quickly create mood boards, Design Systems, and Style Guides. Adapts design from WEB Responsive to Mobile.

Platforms: Mac OS X, Windows and Web Browser

Marvel

Marvel is both Web-based and Mobile app prototyping tool. Through the app, you can convert hand sketches into prototypes. It supports PSD, Sketch files to further work on within Marvel.

Platforms: Mac OS X, Windows and Web Browser

Figma

Figma is the first interface tool to have a collaboration feature. It is an entirely Web browser based tool. Create and present the design in the same tool.

Platforms: Mac OS X and web Browser

Conclusion

Gone are those days when wireframes were created on paper, today prototyping is a must before embarking on the journey of design and development of digital products. Lovely animations and interactions add to the wow factor and help bring a faster buy-in from stakeholders on the concept.

Designers can pick the tool that suits them, as there is no perfect prototyping tool that can be called the “best” from the list. Every tool has its own pros and cons and every day there are new updates to existing and new tools that are launched and marketed differently.

The choice of a prototyping tool depends entirely upon the nature of the project. It is finally about picking the right tool for the right requirement based on the project.

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