Customer experience is arguably the biggest differentiator for brands in 2021. Thanks to a global pandemic that accelerated consumers’ digital-first behaviours, expectations for exceptional brand experiences have grown. The brands that get it right often see more consumer loyalty and satisfaction. Appnovation is a full-service digital partner that works with brands to define and create human-centred digital experiences. Here are a few excerpts of the interview we had with Scott Wassmer, General Manager of the Americas at Appnovation:
Explain what Appnovation does for its clients.
Appnovation is a full-service digital consultancy that is committed to solving today’s business challenges through human-centered design. We work with our clients on everything from strategy to experience design to choosing and implementing the right technology to seamlessly bring that experience to life. Our solutions ultimately help our clients serve and connect to their customers through stand-out digital experiences.
Q. Customer-centricity is a buzzworthy topic of conversation for many brands. How does Appnovation approach it?
Consumers care about how a brand’s experience makes them feel, often even more so than the product or service itself. The digital experience contributes to those positive feelings when it’s designed with empathy, demonstrates an understanding of the consumer, and adapts to their evolving needs.
At Appnovation, digital experiences are built upon a foundation of solid strategy, then designed with a human-centered approach. Leading with empathy, we work with our clients to design digital presences that enhance the brand’s offerings, with sustained growth in mind.
Q. Customer-obsessed companies consistently add value to the customer experience. What is your perspective on this?
We recently researched consumers’ perceptions of digital experiences, including what makes for a memorable brand experience. When it comes to digital experiences, many highly valued features have become table stakes. For example, we all expect that our personal data will be kept secure and that information will be up-to-date when we’re visiting a brand’s website.
What really differentiates a brand is the values-driven experience it provides customers and the way those customers feel. According to our research, this can mean a user-friendly design, easy navigation, personalized recommendations, or even alignment to personal values.
Digital experiences are a brand’s most valuable currency in 2021, but they fit into a larger omnichannel experience that needs to be seamless and add value to the consumer at every turn. Brands that understand their consumer are the ones most likely to get this experience right - and ultimately grow and thrive.
Q. Understanding the customer can be a difficult task. How does Appnovation determine what the customer-centric needs are?
We believe in agile user testing throughout the design process. This means we get the solution in front of relevant consumers early and often to glean insights into how users perceive the experience and adjust quickly when we need to. This agility is a differentiator of Appnovation’s.
For a client in the Insurance industry, we built a plan recommendation algorithm, initially making it work as fast as possible so people can get their results quickly. When testing with that audience, we found that people actually trusted the recommendation more when the process was slowed down. It turned out users felt the recommendations weren’t personalized to them if the engine didn’t look like it was ‘thinking.’ Without agile user testing, we wouldn’t have discovered this insight.
Q. What are the biggest challenges your clients have in adopting customer-first strategies?
One of the challenges we often see is brands having an incomplete view of their customer. If you don’t know what your consumers are looking for, you won’t be able to serve them a great digital experience. This is where a solid data and analytics strategy comes into play. Most companies have significant data but don’t know how to use it effectively.
A data and analytics strategy can help a brand understand in real-time how the landscape is changing and provide insight into what your consumers want, changing trends, and new opportunities. Developing and aligning your data and analytics strategy with your business objectives and customer experience can enhance customer experience and drive future growth.
Q. When it comes to digital journeys, what are customers’ biggest frustrations with brands?
Consumers will no longer tolerate complex digital experiences. Instead, they now want a simple journey that gets them the results they’re looking for quickly and easily. However, this is often more challenging than it sounds, especially for companies dealing with legacy technologies.
Many companies are stuck using legacy technology stacks that make building a seamless omnichannel experience difficult. These technologies are often outdated, making updates, customization, and scalability difficult - and a seamless experience impossible. Our approach is to understand the most important touchpoints along the customer journey and to make them easy and delightful so that the experience adds value to the consumer and, ultimately, the brand.
Q. What should customer-centric brands be thinking of to prepare for the future?
For a digitally connected brand, there are many entry points for a consumer. This means there’s an opportunity to delight through digital experiences in many different ways. By developing content management and distribution strategy and technologies built for that distribution, organizations will have many opportunities to reach their customers with the right content at the right time.
Q. How does Appnovation’s approach to digital strategies help companies dream big?
Consumer expectations of digital experiences have dramatically shifted. Gone are the days when consumers measured and compared a brand’s digital experience to those of its competitors within the same space. Today, consumers are comparing brands with the very best digital experiences across completely different industries. As customers increasingly demonstrate digital-first behaviors, we help our clients through:
A focus on the customer: It’s important to understand what the customer wants and how they’re behaving at every step of the journey to deliver a best-in-class experience.
Personalized, data-driven experiences: By collecting and analyzing data, brands can create data-driven experiences that are personalized to the customer. When this happens consistently, customer loyalty and trust follow.
Scalable, flexible technology to achieve this flexible and agile experience: Technology that allows for personalization, scalability, and the addition of new channels as customers’ expectations evolve is essential.
Q. Can you talk about the importance of data and analytics in customer-centric experiences?
The digital ecosystem is changing rapidly, faster than most of us expected it to. The original assumptions used to build a digital experience are likely outdated now. Consumer digital experiences now require frequent monitoring to adapt to the evolving environment.
The best way to do this is through collecting the correct data, creating a single view of the customer, and turning that data into actionable insights. To achieve this, data from multiple channels must be centralized and made accessible to all stakeholders in developing the CX journey.
Q. What do you consider the relationship between the Employee Experience and the Customer Experience to be?
The relationship between EX and CX is becoming closer every day. One of the biggest drivers of this change is the new work models we see brands worldwide adopting. While preferred by many businesses and employees alike, remote and hybrid workforces aren’t without their challenges. By prioritizing EX, brands see greater confidence and stability, which leads to greater agility within the organization and – ideally – improved products and services.
Beyond creating better products for customers, studies have repeatedly shown a direct link between strong EX and stand-out CX. By clearly and consistently defining EX within their organization, brands will become more resilient to the changing landscape and encourage authentic connections between their employees and their brand. In fact, happy employees can increase customer satisfaction by as much as 81% (Forrester).
Q. Can you share a great example of customer-centricity that you’ve seen?
We work with a large healthcare organization that provides health and wellness programs and information to its clients. We recently helped them transform their vision for digital, their strategic approach to manage it, and remodel their website to focus on customer needs, delivering higher business value. The website’s goal was really to help people understand their condition, then direct them to a Healthcare facility that could help them.
A simple example of how we designed a customer-first journey was we dramatically shifted the way content was created. Not only did we focus on more SEO-friendly terms, but also on more relatable, easy-to-understand content. Once someone understands their condition, we made it easy for them to understand what to do next by making a logical funnel from condition to action, like finding a facility near them that treats the condition.
Meet the General Manager
Scott Wassmer is General Manager of the Americas at Appnovation. For over two decades, Scott has successfully managed and mentored Fortune 500 companies amidst their digital journeys. A tech native, he has a passion for developing the right strategies and implementations for companies looking to drive growth and value through digital business transformation and digital marketing innovation.