The convergence of technology and human experience is officially ubiquitous. In fact, algorithms are now at the heart of so many human-machine interactions and profoundly shaping experience. So much so that we are becoming desensitized by the convergence. No longer an emergent or new paradigm of technological progress, but instead a new normal and expectation.

Convenience and instant service literally at our fingertips.   

Think about the range of everyday use cases in which we humans navigate our lives while NEVER directly communicating with another human. We shop for groceries, cars and homes… delivered on demand and dropped at our doorstep. Order morning coffee to go, book vacations, complete bank transactions, order your groceries to be delivered… all while simultaneously attending a work meeting. Laptops for work, mobile devices at our side for everything else, tablets on the couch for entertainment. “Media multitasking” as a phenomenon is exploding, while many of us can somehow manage three or more devices simultaneously!

Related Reading: AI… We Can’t be Too Late

But just because digitization is everywhere, doesn’t mean we always get it right. In the rush to design code-based and technology-driven EXPERIENCE, the goal of delivering instant gratification and value to users requires an interesting blend of data, predictive customer behavior insights, algorithmic science and human decision making combined with journey mapping and organization-wide commitment.

The companies that thrive will have mastered total experience — delivering superior, futuristic experiences to ALL users… customer, employees, investors, partners. The companies that will quickly shift to a laggard state will fail to strike the important balance of humanness and emerging tech when it comes to experience design and implementation.

When Experience Goes Wrong

A recent personal experience of mine with a mega-brand (name withheld) was both frustrating and eye opening — spanning over several days, with three distinct omni-channel attempts to perform a basic service request for an in-home technician.

  • Step 1: Traditional landline customer service call. Thirty minutes wasted with an automated (non-human) troubleshooting cycle. A fixed menu of voice prompted options no doubt designed based on the service analytics of the most common (statistically) service use cases. Unfortunately, these options and online diagnosis/troubleshooting steps did not resolve my issue. Shockingly, I could not get to a human or next step! No bypass. Simply a dead end that sent me to the beginning of their automated workflow. Hint: yelling or using tone with an automated voice system doesn’t work.
  • Step 2: A day later, and after a cool down period, I chose a web 3.0, modern approach. I logged into my account and engaged the support chat bot. Clearly that would be a far more intuitive process. Automated phone system technology is so 2015, right? To my disbelief, no resolution. In fact, the experience was déjà vu-like, only worse. Typing and communicating with a bot requires far more effort when compared to voice commands (or yelling). But somehow, after much negotiation, I scheduled a support call! But now the workflow moved me from the website to… wait for it… my cell phone. It gets worse. A few texts back and forth did finally allow me to schedule the call, however, I was greeted by another non-human voice recording: “The next available support person will be with you shortly.” Press 1 if you wish to continue. After remaining on hold for at least five minutes, you guessed it, the call dropped. Worse, the text appointment workflow no longer worked. It failed every time and the only re-engage would be to start over with that annoying chat bot. No thanks.
  • Step 3: After waiting for a few days I decided to try one last time. For no apparent reason, I reverted to Step 1 and dialed the landline customer service. This time, the automated system menu was vastly different. I was magically ushered to a live person and within minutes had my in-home technician appointment scheduled!

Something changed somewhere deep in the analytics, and after multiple attempts I was identified as a “risk.” A customer under duress. And an algorithm changed the journey for me. It wasn’t that it truly personalized or somehow learned about me. Instead, my needs and scenario fell outside the 90 percent of all service calls.

A relatable experience for most and a foreshadowing of both the good and bad of the “experience era” in which we are living.

Technology as an Accelerator

Technology advancements — chatbots, personalization, recommender engines, AI-enabled customer support — are outstanding additions to any experience journey. In fact, without them, our companies remain in an archaic, outmoded experience approach, and we quickly lose market share.

But we cannot incorporate emerging tech for tech’s sake. Rather, we need to understand the human behaviors and motivators of those receiving the experience. Technology should be an enabler and an accelerator of total experience — not an excuse to forgo understanding the psychology and mindset that fuels human decisions.

Companies that are investing in emerging tech effectively are taking time to:

  • Understand the user journey end-to-end. Where does the user start? Where are we trying to move them next? How does human emotion play into how we process experience?
  • Align emerging technology to real business initiatives. As leaders, we need to remain clear on WHAT the technology is accelerating. Customer acquisition strategies, stronger segmentation approaches, strengthened employee engagement, faster customer service? If we can identify the use cases that are most motivating our business and then assess the impact of applying new-age technologies to them, we masterfully align human motivation to tech application.
  • Measure, iterative and adjust. The clues we need about how our experiences are faring are right within our organizations. Our job is to turn data into insight and use those insights to make clear decisions. We need to understand the new KPIs to measure in this experience era, ensure our teams have access to real-time information, and be willing to iterate and adjust based on feedback loops.

We are officially in the Future of Experience era, being compared to all businesses across all verticals when it comes to the experiences we create for users. Emerging tech needs to be elevated as a strategic team member, but we have to remember that technology’s job is to augment and strengthen. Not replace the human side of experience.

The companies that can remember that and use emerging tech as an accelerator will quickly leap-frog ahead.

Ready to harness the power of emerging tech to fuel your experience strategies? Click here to download our guide on how to jump-start your experience framework to support your growth initiatives.