Imagine a world where every advertisement displayed, email sent, store entered, mobile offer viewed, and website visited was personalized just for you. This might seem like an unreachable goal, but this is the future of the customer experience, and it’s what customers are already starting to expect.
Brands and design companies have been trying to deliver more personalised customer experiences, with the rise of more intelligent CRM technologies and UXPs (User Experience Platforms) as well as the expanding cloud-based technologies (such as Adobe Marketing Cloud) and big data integration. However current approaches of personalisation are still very limited to individual platforms and devices, often require user registration and login, offsetting the benefits with barriers to entry and posing risks of major disconnects when customers move from one experience to another.
In the near future, we are expecting a breakthrough in the way we envision and create customer experiences, where there will be no barrier to entry, no device or platform boundaries – customer experiences will be ultra-personalised and seamless, anywhere, anytime. This is what we’d like to call – Ultra Personalised Customer Experience, or UPCX.
In order to realise a true UPCX, there are three essential components: UAF (Universal Authentication Framework), RCDC (Rich Customer Data Cloud) and OCUX (Omni-Channel User Experience Design).
1) UAF (Universal Authentication Framework): A world without passwords
To deliver a seamless, uninterrupted customer experience, breaking down the barriers to entry is key. As customers are moving constantly and freely across different digital touch-points, a universal framework is needed to identify and authenticate a customer instantly and seamlessly, without asking the customer to enter a username or password. Biometric authentication technologies will play a core part in delivering UAF, such as:
- Voice authentication (e.g., http://voicevault.com)
- Iris scan (e.g., http://eyelock.com)
- Fingerprint (e.g., http://www.imore.com/touch-id)
- Heartbeat authentication (e.g., https://nymi.com)
- Blood-vein scan authentication (e.g., http://www.m2sys.com/palm-vein-reader)
- Facial recognition (e.g., https://www.keylemon.com/)
Personal devices such as wearable devices and smartphones can pre-authenticate user and provide real-time contextual handshakes based on proximity with the surrounding devices so that the UAF process is almost unnoticeable by the customer. At least two levels of simultaneous authentications are recommended to ensure security and privacy protection.
2) RCDC (Rich Customer Data Cloud): Your ‘digital-self’ living in the cloud
In the near future, the RCDC, a centralised database will systematically collect and store customer data, use technologies like digital fingerprinting and Artificial Intelligence, SaaS and the cloud will be able to understand who you are, what you like or even predict what’s your next move.
Sounds scary? Big data and ubiquitous customer data collection are already a reality.
Your digital self will gradually get fleshed out—even emotionally.
This ‘digital you’ living in the cloud will be able to allow the systems to create a precisely tailored experience just for you, based on your preferences, your personality and even your emotional states. RCDC will be the brain and command centre of all UPCX that delivers ultra-personal micro-interactions unique to you.
3) OCUX (Omni-Channel User Experience Design): A major paradigm shift in UX design
Remember responsive Websites? The ever popular responsive design was based on a simple idea that one design can intelligently work across devices, be that a desktop, a tablet, or a smartphone.
In the near future, we as UX designers will expand the methodology of responsive design to ‘Omni-responsive’ UX design, which means not only would one interaction seamlessly work across different form factors, but also work across different cognitive modalities, such as natural voice interactions, haptic interactions, VR (Virtual Reality) / AR (Augmented Reality) as well as the more traditional 2D screen-based interactions.
This requires UX designers to expand the research and design scope, and consider all possible scenarios, channels and modalities customers may interact with the brand. Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri are already experimenting with this type of omnichannel UX design, allowing the AI agent to dynamically adapt to the contexts, be that through a microphone and speaker, or merely a GUI search box.
In the coming years, more design patterns and frameworks will emerge, much like the Google Design for flat UIs, omnichannel interaction patterns will emerge to build a universal library and help establish new conventions of how information and interactions can flow naturally and seamlessly across different devices, channels and dimensions.
Below are the top 5 success factors of ultra-personalised, OCUX (Omni-Channel Customer Experience):
- Super Context-Aware: OCUX needs to be ultra context aware. The system will not only be aware of who you are, where you are and what you are doing, but also, what you did prior, and what you plan to do next – so that every interaction will be super relevant and hopefully delightful. (You can get a glimpse of super context-aware interactions if you use Google Now)
- Harmony Built-in: With so many devices competing for your attention, it’s important to build a governance model for harmony, so that at any given moment, there will only be a limited number of devices diverting your focus on what’s most relevant and important. There shouldn’t be any unnecessary repetitions. Transitions between different modes and devices should feel seamless and natural.
- Channel-neutral: When customers move in between channels and devices, they expect to see the same data and options. So OCUX needs to be channel neutral. While ‘Mobile First’ may have been the right approach for responsive Web design today, we need to consider the actual behaviours of users in the near future, where other channels and devices may take the centre stage. Ensuring the neutrality of the design allows greater flexibility and adaptability of the experience to fit unique customer behaviours.
- Availability: ‘Always on, always ready’ seems to be what customers are expecting already. Gone with the ‘office hours’, and come with the 24/7 ultra personalised one-on-one attention, so that we never lose a heartbeat of opportunity to engage your customers.
- Consistency: Even though you have a million new ways to engage your customer, it is the weakest link that defines your success or failure. The famous ‘barrel effect’ still applies in the digital world, which means no matter how great your other experiences are, if you have one bad apple in the pot, that’s what customers may remember and share across. Keeping a consistent quality of your brand experience across channels are key for success.
Last but not least, I’d like to share one of my favourite movie clips from the movie Minority Report, to give you a glimpse of what lies ahead. Enjoy. 🙂
(Please note all content in this post is subject to the copyright of the author. Please contact Boz if you need further information. Video attached is not directly related to the post. Copyright of the video belongs to DreamWorks Pictures and 20th Century Fox)