Matt Swain, Broadridge: " The pandemic has created opportunities to introduce digitally reticent customers to digital services."

Like many of us these days, Matt Swain has been spending more time engaging with educational apps and virtual learning tools than he ever anticipated. With two young children learning virtually, he’s had to quickly get up to speed on digital portfolio and communication app Seesaw, which is the primary channel his kids’ teachers use for assigning, submitting and reviewing work.

Doing so has led to some interesting observations about the state of digital experience, and offers a fresh lens through which to examine digital experience best practices.

“The experience must be intuitive enough for my first and second graders to navigate on their own, but also robust enough to support the variety of lessons the teachers want to provide without those teachers needing extensive training on the platform,” Swain said. “While there are some opportunities for improvement, the experience speaks to the simplicity that our clients should be offering their customers when building their next digital experience.”

Swain is managing director and practice lead in Broadridge’s Communications Consulting practice. Broadridge is a sponsor of CMSWire's DXSummit, taking place online Oct. 21. Swain will present a session during the event titled, "Interacting with Customers in the 'New Now.'"

He spoke with CMSWire about the importance of personalization, the impact of COVID-19 and how companies can navigate the “new now.”

Are You Rebuilding or Fine-Tuning Your Digital Experiences?

CMSWire: What does an ideal digital experience look like to you, and why?

Matt Swain: While each persons ideal digital experience may vary, there are a few common guideposts we tend to use with our clients. For clients who want their customers to go digital for cost-saving reasons, we challenge them to answer critical questions, including: Are you after cost savings or greater engagement, which will yield more long-term revenue? Is it easy for clients to establish their preferences and sign-up for digital delivery? Is the digital experience you offer superior to their current experience with printed communications? If not, were rebuilding, not fine-tuning. If yes, then the fine-tuning comes in relative to ease of navigation, intuitive design and simplified language. 

CMSWire: Whats the difference between that ideal and what companies are delivering today? How can they bridge that gap?

Swain: Companies often trip over themselves when it comes to building great digital experiences. It is easier for teams to build experiences within their realm of control, but the outcome is generally a disjointed — and frustrating — customer experience. Customers dont care that they have accounts with two different lines of business; they want a consistent and integrated experience as a customer of the brand.

When we conduct journey mapping exercises with our clients' communications, the brand experience often falls short in the all-too-common email, Your statement is ready.” These communications represent a missed micro-journey for many customer experience teams and include two design flaws. The first is the actual email design, which sometimes is so far from the rest of the branding that it can be perceived as spam. The second is the customer experience of navigation: take the steps to click on the link, enter their user ID and password, navigate through several layers of menus in the secure login to eventually find the statement. Why not push this statement — securely and directly — to the customer? Why not make it dynamic and interactive instead of a static PDF of what would have arrived by mail? 

Little by little, were helping our clients bridge the gap from their current state to an ideal state by using our digital toolset and consulting support.

Communications Is the Monthly Appointment for Customers to Digitally Engage

CMSWire: COVID-19 has forced digital experience to the top of organizations' priorities. What separates the companies who are thriving from those who are struggling? 

Swain: We have been conducting ongoing research on the impacts that COVID-19 is having — and will have — on how companies communicate with their customers, and vice versa. The pandemic has created opportunities to introduce digitally reticent customers to digital services.

For instance, our consumer research of more than 4,000 consumers has shown that 36% of consumers have made an online payment for the first time with one or more of the companies they do business with; another 24% have accessed a bill or statement online, while 21% downloaded the providers mobile app.

When we asked consumers about how their providers could better serve them, there was a big focus on customer service. Customers want to know that their providers are there for them in this time of uncertainty and they are favoring companies that are proactive and seen as accessible.

CMSWire: Whats the relationship between communications and digital experience? 

Swain: Communications and the digital experience go hand-in-hand. Think about the bills, statements, notices, letters and other essential communications that companies are sending customers on a regular basis. For organizations that are sending their customers a monthly bill or statement, that communication could be the catalyst for digital engagement — so we see communications as the monthly appointment for customers to digitally engage.

CMSWire: Whats the importance of personalization in a digital experience? How do you enable that without overdoing it?

Swain: Personalization matters. Consumers have been conditioned for personalized experiences. Most consumers expect companies to leverage what they know about them to deliver a better experience.  In fact, our annual study last year found that 25% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company just because it did a poor job of personalizing the experience.

But what is a poor job? Is it a lack of personalization or is it, as you teed up, actually over-personalizing and showing just how much information that you have on a customer? We strive to strike the balance of relevance, delivering against the customers defined preferences and adding a personal touch.

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