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Forging strong digital connections – understanding your customers without getting invasive

Article by Contentsquare

Passionate about numbers and statistics, Jonathan Cherki founded Contentsquare in 2012 and has since served as the CEO, growing the company exponentially and promoting the importance of UX to optimize the customer journey.

Contentsquare – a digital experience analytics firm – helps brands take action at enterprise scale and build customer trust with security, privacy and accessibility. Its AI-powered platform provides contextual insight into customer behaviors, feelings and intent, enabling businesses to build empathy and create lasting impact. More than 850 leading brands use Contentsquare to enhance customer experience on over 1 million websites worldwide.

What, you might be forgiven for asking, is happening? Our avatars are better dressed than we are; the hottest new neighborhood is one no-one will ever actually set foot in; and the art world’s most powerful influencer is not a human (you guessed it, it’s the NFT). Can we ever be sure we are dealing with a person rather than a machine?

As the digital world expands, and with it the opportunities for online connection, people are increasingly looking for experiences that, at their core, are still human. True, we’re buying clothes we can’t touch and art we can’t hang on our walls. However, we’re also relying on digital to facilitate some of the most fundamental human activities: buying food; educating our kids; meeting new people; consulting our doctor – and the list goes on.

So, as we hurtle towards the metaverse in hyperloop capsules, how do we preserve real human values and connections at the heart of the online experience?

Below, we look at three elements that digital leaders should keep front of mind as they define the online experience and look for ways to make real, lasting connections:

  1. Embrace data strategies built on digital trust.

With Google’s cookie deprecation delayed but still on the horizon, and tighter data controls being enacted worldwide, a cookie-free world is on its way. The question on every experience-builder’s mind is, of course, can you have a data-driven mindset and still put privacy first? The good news is that we believe you can.

Consumers are increasingly wary of surveillance marketing; however they still want tailored products and services that show that their brands understand them as people. So, how do you bridge the gap between knowing your customers and protecting their personal information? First of all, we need to dispense with the idea that personal data is the holy grail of customer understanding. In fact, there’s a revolution happening around personalization – and it all starts with intent.

Whether booking a car to be somewhere in 15 minutes or refreshing your favorite news site, online behavior is typically driven by intent. Data that can help you understand what your visitors are trying to achieve, and how they want to do it, is, therefore, the most precious business commodity out there.

Digital experience insights do just that; by aggregating data pertaining to the context and outcome of people’s online journeys, and analyzing every micro-gesture and decision they make during those journeys, brands can arrive at a deep understanding of their customers’ intent and how they are responding to the digital experiences they are being offered. And they can do so without invading their privacy.

Rather than trying to second-guess their intentions, this ‘how’ and ‘why’ data allows you to take your cue directly from the customer, understand what they are trying to accomplish; how they want to go about it; and whether or not they can achieve their objective in the current service environment.

  1. Accessibility: a key CX success metric.

We’re on the cusp of Web3, a new digital chapter in which people will have more agency in their online lives than ever before. But universal participation in this brave new digital world implies the removal of disabling barriers, such as lack of accessibility, and lack of fairness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.2 billion people – around 15% of the global population – live with a disability of some sort and huge swathes of the Internet still aren’t as accessible as they could be. As the digital world evolves, failure to adapt quickly risks leaving a huge part of the population behind.

The very first measure of a great online experience should be its ability to be experienced by everyone. In our day-to-day lives, there are countless examples of organizations adapting to remove barriers and to make themselves more accessible. The web should be no different.

  1. Human-centered AI is the key to the digital experience.

Humanity has both great qualities and many flaws, and the digital world we have built reflects this. A human-designed online world is never going to be perfect, but it will reflect the very human drive to improve things. Imagine, for example, navigating the stresses and uncertainties of the past two years without easy access to online healthcare, food-delivery services, education, news, and government information.

As we continue to develop this world, we must keep our core values front and center; the best way to do this is to continue to strive to understand the people for whom we are developing digital services.

AI for the future

From fake news bots to self-driving cars, from combatting the spread of disinformation to helping robots have babies, it seems like AI really is taking over everything. When it comes to building a more human online world, AI is going to be the key to removing barriers, and creating experiences that consider what brings us online in the first place.

Digital can be a scary market to serve because your audience is largely invisible. In the offline world, businesses and institutions can observe the behavior of their customers and/or users, and adapt their offerings accordingly. Floor is slippery? Put a sign out. Customer unfolding an entire pile of sweaters themselves? Ask if you can help. But don’t forget that digital behavior is feedback in its own right — and AI is the engine that sorts through this feedback to produce the insights, identify the trends and, ultimately, offer recommendations.

The role digital plays in our lives is only getting greater. We’ve developed digital solutions and products to solve many challenges, big and small. Today, we have a great opportunity to design together our collective digital experience. We can decide what we want it to look and feel like, and which things we should not compromise on. Businesses and organizations must take part in this process, too. We simply spend too much time connected to have poor experiences online.

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