Why the customer experience matters

Dec 12th, 2012 | Posted by

At Celent, we have the opportunity to sit through several dozen demos a year of core systems. And in most demos, I find myself having sympathy for the ultimate end-user. The first thing that pops into my head is not how powerful the system is (and they often are), but how grateful I am not to be an underwriting assistant (or claims adjuster or CSR) that would have to learn how to navigate this application in front of me.

The industry spends much time poking fun at the green screens from the previous century (ok, of this year in some insurers, you know who you are!). But the navigation and thought for the user experience has progressed little from those days. In the worst cases, it seems that the green screen has simply been re-coded in .NET along with easy access to specific screens through magic keys like F7.

A Harvard Business Review blog highlighted some interesting facts about Android and iOS. Whilst Android outsells Apple phones, Apple iOS users conduct more e-business than their Android colleagues. So what is that about? The blog goes onto explain that it is the manner in which Apple devices support customer engagement that result in these same users doing more e-commerce.

The fact that the face of core systems is misaligned with what might work best for the user is in my mind related to how we as an industry frame, discuss and talk about customers. Susan Scott  makes some great points on how we talk about customer centricity instead of customer connectivity. She points out certain tells of organisations that get this wrong. Do you recognise any of these? They include relying on  software to build relationships, using language that turns the customer off, and use of the term “customer facing” (If we don’t all care deeply about the customer of our business, then what are we doing?)

Most insurer websites can be found wanting, as can the internal systems that staff use when they interact with these customers. For a smart industry, the link between customer engagement and user experience appears to be a blind spot.

Inspired by companies that do get it right, I believe we should set a higher bar on the expectations. This is more than aesthetics. And let’s not forget the real skill in getting really engaging customers through technology.  Let’s not leave it up to the smart geeks who’s real skills are the wiring of the system.

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