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Human Experience Platforms

Enabling brands to act more human

The human experiences platforms trend is fueled by a growing demand from system users that technologies engage us in more meaningful, human-like ways. In this article we explain how platforms can enable brands to act more human.

Written by Mark de Koo & Franklin Heijnen

Elevate the human experience

‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ This is a famous quote of the poet Maya Angelou, nowadays frequently used in presentation trainings. And what is true for people giving a presentation also applies to brands.

In a recent Deloitte Digital survey of 800 consumers, 60 percent of long-term customers use emotional language to describe their connection to favored brands; likewise, 62 percent of consumers feel they have a relationship with a brand. Trustworthiness (83 percent), integrity (79 percent), and honesty (77 percent) are the emotional factors that consumers feel most align with their favorite brands.

And what we see in terms of customers using technology is that they expect brands to engage with them in more meaningful, human-like ways. In the coming years, we expect this demand to become a nonnegotiable expectation. Today, trend pioneers are integrating affective computing, AI, and neuroscientific research into their strategies and systems to transform the rules of user engagement. In the near future, “emotionally intelligent” technologies and tactics will likely give rise to new business models and ways of working.

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From customer journey to human journey

Traditional Customer Experience (CX) design usually begins with a customer profile and then the creation of a customer journey based upon needs, actions, pains and gains of the customer. Human Experience (HX) design takes this one step further and looks at universal concerns and needs that we humans have.

When creating personas and journeys, we should not only look at functional needs like ‘I want to buy a new smartphone’, but we should also pay close attention to the human concerns and emotions. You might want to buy the smartphone to make more video's and learn new skills. Or perhaps you want to use the camera of that smartphone to share pictures with your friends. 

To get to learn more about these deeper needs of customers, brands are using ethnographic research to see how they interact with a service or product in their natural environment. Instead of using standard surveys or interviews, brands are observing a group of customers for one or more days to explore the challenges and needs this focus group is experiencing. By using this method, brands can easily respond to their customers needs by not only offering a seamless e-commerce experience, but also curate the best how-to-video's on the internet and share this content with their (potential) customers.

The end of one size fits all

Brands that take this human perspective into account are faced with the challenge to get the right message, at the right time, in the right context to a specific customer. For a financial brand we found using an online (pension) calculator was a defining factor for effective segmentation. Knowing more about your customers needs offers an unique opportunity to simplify websites and portals. Not removing content but placing the most relevant content on top.

For another financial brand we used neuro usability research. In this kind of research EEG is used to measure brain activity which is processed to emotions. Here we say the positive effect of personalised content when looking at attention, frustration and joy. An extra benefit of this new kind of research is that teams see in (almost) real-time what happens in the mind of customers so less discussion is needed to make customer centred design decisions. Everyone sees what causes delight when a customer (group) uses a website or app.

The challenge is how to make sure that customer groups get the right content in the right context. Using the following maturity model on creating personalised experiences helps to build a platform that caters to both the functional and emotional needs of customers.

Bringing experiences alive

So how can we make it happen? If the ambition is to deliver predictive personalized experiences, it has to be built step by step according to the maturity model above. The reason why is that every step in the model demands a specific state of enabling digital marketing (DM) platform. Three underlying dimensions in a DM-platform should be aligned in every step; data, content and decisioning.

If we overlook the whole spectrum presented in the model, data develops from stand-alone touch-point action focus to integrated journey phase & customer lifetime value (CLV) driven. Content will move from siloed, touch-point specific fragments towards an exponential explosion of hyper personalized journey based stories.

Finally, decisioning will move from simple next best action based business rules toward AI-driven contextual predictive modelling able to react on real-time behaviour. This process means that for every step, DM-platforms must contain an increasing level of maturity of components and integration (from Best-of-Breed towards Suites) in order to enable the demanded level of personalization.

More information

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If you have any questions regarding Human Experience Platforms or if you would like to discuss digital challenges you are facing, please feel free to get in touch with Mark de Koo or Franklin Heijnen via the contact details below.

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