Experienced technologist and CEO of Infostretch, a digital engineering services company that helps enterprises prosper in digital age.
If the digital customer experience wasn’t a boardroom issue before, the global health crisis has certainly brought it to the foreground. Today, businesses are compelled to develop a clear strategy on how to serve their customers digitally to survive.
Even as restrictions have eased in many places around the world, navigating the digital landscape has become a complex challenge for business since the phrases “lockdown” and “social distancing” entered our lexicon. Businesses may still have to completely reengineer their processes to leverage digital technology, just to keep up with the demands of the “new normal.”
Payments Technology Is Going Touchless
In many ways, 2020 will likely represent a milestone moment for the payments industry as technologies of convenience have now become technologies of necessity.
With cash payments actively discouraged, businesses have had to lean into contactless technology a lot sooner than they may have otherwise done. While this may seem like little more than an immediate obstacle to overcome, it is actually laying the groundwork for the future of omnichannel payments. Digital wallet solutions were already starting to emerge before COVID-19, allowing users to pay for goods and services using their smartphone or wearable. During the initial phase of the coronavirus pandemic, Europe saw a staggering 72% increase in the use of fintech apps as people sought to manage their finances remotely and utilize new technologies to pay for things.
We’re now likely to see digital wallet solutions grow even further, including things like digital IDs, transaction monitoring and even location tracking. We could soon be living in a world where your smartphone could tell you which stores were too crowded or which parts of the mall to avoid. Businesses that provide viable omnichannel options to cater for these behavioral changes will have a distinct edge over competitors.
Health Care Is Leveraging Telehealth And IOT For Remote Patient Care
It’s very difficult to treat patients when they’re being told to stay at home, self-quarantine and practice social distancing. Telehealth, a technology that had been developed for convenience, now has become a necessity.
Telehealth, coupled with wearable data or biosensor technology, will change the health care landscape at a rapid pace. Heart rate and blood pressure monitors are hardly new inventions, but they’re now being utilized more than ever to help caregivers gather the data they need to diagnose and treat patients remotely. But that technology doesn’t stop at wearables. A handful of companies have recently begun development of new ingestible sensors that can be swallowed by patients. These “smart pills” could be used to track gut health or monitor medicine ingestion, and could eventually be mounted with miniscule cameras to help doctors monitor or diagnose a range of conditions.
As with many industries, the Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly transforming health care. The added pressure brought on by the pandemic is bringing a lot of this new technology to the foreground, allowing medical facilities to create brand new patient experiences that businesses in all industries can learn from.
Opti-Channel Services Are Becoming More Crucial
An opti-channel approach derives from the idea that not all channels are created equal, and not all channels are necessarily suitable for every interaction. An opti-channel strategy requires businesses to not only find the best channel to reach each type of customer, but to use that channel to its fullest potential in order to maximize engagement at each and every point along that customer’s journey while ensuring continuity of experience and personalization.
Take Disney World’s pre-pandemic approach as an example. A booking would usually start on Disney’s mobile-responsive website. Following that, they’d be directed to download the “My Disney Experience” app to start building their perfect stay. This might involve prebooking rides or preordering food in restaurants, allowing the theme park to limit lines and streamline a customer’s visit. On arrival, families would be given a “magic band” that utilized NFC technology to act as a ticket, queue-jump pass or even a digital wallet if they chose to preload currency via the app.
All of this was, of course, designed to give visitors to Disney World the most convenient and frictionless experience possible — avoiding crowds, not having to line up, ordering things in advance. Little did they know it, but Disney World was, in a sense, already preparing for a world in which social distancing was the new normal. If businesses never had much of an eye for opti-channel thinking before, they’ll need to develop one quickly.
The Importance Of Data Is At The Core Of Digital Strategy
Information derived from relevant data is at the core of digital strategy. A technology discipline that was initially designed to make our lives easier and improve the customer experience has now become all but an essential foundation of business continuity.
What’s even more important is how that data is used and where it’s made available. As businesses adapt to a more omnichannel approach, they’re going to have to think a little more carefully about how their data is stored and where it will be most valued. At what touchpoints will a customer need access to a specific piece of information? Will your website have more functionality than your mobile app, and if so, why? A customer won’t necessarily understand why they have to put their phone down and find their laptop just to log in and change a setting; it will be frustrating for them.
These small frustrations add up. What’s the impact of a few customers finding a lack of real-time data or consistency annoying? Probably not much. But what about a few thousand or a few million getting frustrated with digital experience at a time when stress is already sky-high? How much can you afford for these optimizations to go unaddressed?