Enterprise Connect 2019 is weeks past, but the lessons learned from the sessions, speakers, and discussions will be around for years to come. While many people believe that the biggest takeaway was the role of artificial intelligence (AI), I had a different perspective (as per usual). To me, the biggest message was the role of experience. Whether its customer experience (CX), user experience (UX), employee experience (EX), or agent experience (AX), businesses realize that they need to focus on providing awesome business communication experiences in order to succeed.
Technology is table stakes today. You can have the best technology in the world, but it doesn't matter if end users aren’t using it. Today’s employees and consumers expect positive and easy experiences when they’re working at their desks or remote locations, interacting with organizations for sales or support, or communicating with colleagues and customers. They expect to have the right business communications tools to make them more productive and effective, without barriers that negatively impact their experiences. Whether for internal communications and collaboration, or interacting with customers, businesses need to focus on the user experience as much as -- or even more than -- the technology itself.
Think about customer service -- the best AI and routing technologies aren’t important if customers can’t get the information they need, if they have to wait on hold for long times, or if they have to repeat themselves when going from chat sessions to agents. Contact center agents who don’t have the right tools, or have tools that are difficult to use and require continually going from one screen or application to another, will have negative experiences -- and these, in turn, will impact the quality of service they provide to customers and the overall customer experience.
Disruptors “Get It”
Most of the disruptive companies that have been so successful have one thing in common -- an unrelenting focus on the customer experience. From Uber making it easy to get a ride to Amazon changing the face of retail forever, these companies understand the importance of providing a unique customer and user experience. Recently we’ve been hearing and talking about Slack and Zoom a great deal, as these companies have been disrupting the status quo and growing extremely quickly. What makes these companies so disruptive? I’d venture to say that it’s all about the positive user experience their solutions provide.
Videoconferencing certainly isn’t new, and there is no shortage of players in this space. But Zoom make videoconferencing easy and simple to use. The most common refrain I hear from Zoom users is “it just works.” Zoom provides the tools that provide the necessary functionality, but beyond the technology, it provides a simple and intuitive user experience.
Slack is also focused on the user experience, making it easy to collaborate and get work done. With tight integration to a large variety of applications and workflows, Slack provides a seamless user experience, making it easy for users to collaborate and complete tasks from within a single hub. At Slack’s recent Frontiers customer event, the audience gave a loud round of applause when the company announced the addition of emojis to use in conversations. This demonstrates how much users appreciate anything that makes the collaboration experience more fun, engaging, and enjoyable.
I’ve been thrilled to hear more and more vendors focusing on the user experience in the past couple of years. In fact, Fuze’s tagline is: “Reimagining the User Experience for Unified Communications.” At Enterprise Connect, Lori Wright, general manager, Microsoft 365, began her keynote
address discussing the role of employee experience and employee engagement. Vendors are finally taking note and recognizing the important role of user experience.
Tips for a Good User Experience
What does a good user experience entail? While there are different types of experiences for different types of users, some basic fundamentals are required:
- Simplicity -- whether a customer is contacting customer service or a knowledge worker is using a video collaboration tool, the communications should be simple and easy to use. For users, this means having to go through as few steps as possible to set up a video conference, share screens or documents, reach a knowledgeable contact center agent, etc.
- Intuitive -- time is at a premium, and users should be able to start using communication and collaboration tools right away, no matter the use case. An intuitive user interface, based on task or role, is essential. While training is needed (and recommended) for advanced capabilities, users should be able to get started with basic capabilities as soon as the solution is deployed.
- Seamless -- no one likes having to switch from one application or screen to another, as that disrupts workflow and hampers productivity; the more integrated the experience, the better.
- Engaging -- why should business communications be dull? Communications and collaboration tools can be fun. Whether by providing emojis for collaboration tool users or gamification for contact center workers, the more engaging the experience, the more likely people will be to continue using the tools, and even get enjoyment from their jobs.
- Mobile-friendly -- with the majority of customers and workers using mobile devices, the experience needs to support a mobile environment, utilizing the mobile devices’ native capabilities as much as possible.
We’ve been talking about the user experience for a long time, but I believe we’re at a tipping point -- companies are finally developing and fine-tuning their products and solutions to focus on providing truly positive experiences. The winners won’t be the vendors with the better technology or more features, but rather, the companies that enable simple, seamless, engaging experiences that keep users coming back.
Pleasant is writing as a member of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.