10 things every enterprise should be doing to improve digital customer experience. / by Kevin Oleary

I see enterprise digital user experience as the sum of all interactions between any part of your organization and one person. Users will ‘personify’ your company and make emotional judgments based on their experience, and that may include things you consider peripheral. A CEO who had a bad experience using Amazon Prime is not going to set that aside when deciding whether to host with AWS (though she may claim to), it all rolls up into a single relationship with Amazon.

I’m not just talking about tech companies, this applies to any enterprise. Whether your products and services are digital or physical, they should be accessible to the consumer technology users expect. To many of you, this will not be news. If so carry on. If it is news, and you want to get ahead of it, here are some practices you can introduce now to build a user experience based on trust and respect.

1. Single Sign-On

Any internal or external user of a digital service should only have to sign in once to access services they are entitled to. So many enterprises now do this that if you don’t, it just looks sloppy.

2. Self Service Account Management

Every customer, large or small, should be able to manage most aspects of their account in the cloud, including paying bills, managing services, or controlling privacy and access. Sure, some customers prefer talking to a person, but any process that requires them to adds friction and degrades the relationship.

3. Seamless Integration

If a customer uses more than one of your services, every service should be “aware” of the others, and already have relevant data available when the user needs it. If an app asks a user to input data you already have in another app, you are not respecting your users time.

4. Internationalization/Localization

Users, anywhere you do business should automatically see your interfaces, not just in their own language (eg. French), but their own dialect (Canadian French), in a system that is aware of date and time, cultural norms, as well as local legal rights and responsibilities (eg. GDPR). If users get the mistaken impression you might be based in their own country, you’re doing it right.

5. Personal Privacy

If someone’s personal information is on your servers (yes, HIPPA and PCI data, but really just any information about a person), you need to tell them what information you have, and how to remove it, preferably in one click. Post Cambridge Analytica it doesn’t make sense not to do this and if you need to implement GDPR, why take on the burden of maintaining two systems? Just employ GDPR everywhere.

6. User-Centric Security

By design, digital services should maintain the bare minimum of information essential to a task, grant users access to only tasks relevant to their role, and bind changes in user status or role to the permissions. Don’t assume an HR person will go around and remove that former employee’s access to everything. They won’t. Another thing that you might not be considering is the erosion of trust when information is too readily available. Users may be asking themselves “If I can view sensitive information about [insert third party person or company] what information of mine can they view?”.

7. Proactive Communication 

If something bad happens that impacts a customer, shareholder, or any stakeholder, your system should be set up to them right away, via whatever channel is the most immediate. Don’t provide an urgent security update at the bottom of an email newsletter if you can text them. Customers will not be annoyed if it’s truly urgent.

8. Responsive, Accessible Design

Every digital product or service you offer should be accessible via any device that has a browser, with an equivalent experience, including on devices that employ assistive technology even if it’s not mandated by ADA (which for government contractors, it is). The service you design and build first should also be the one that’s indispensable (hint, it’s mobile).

9. Enterprise-wide Design Systems

Part of maintaining a relationship is consistency. Every user should immediately know when they are touching part of your organization. That can’t happen unless you have a consistent brand experience at every touch point. To scale that you need a design system. I’m not talking about a brand standards manual or a style guide website; those impose a burden of effort that kills adoption. What will get adopted is a regularly updated easy-to-install plug in (eg. an NPM module), or even better, a framework-agnostic design API (eg. design tokens). Either way, if you want it to flourish it should be maintained by a dedicated team as a service to the enterprise, not as everyone’s responsibility or one person’s side-project.

10. Continuous User Testing

One kind of data you should be gathering more of (anonymously) is application user metrics. But here, try to only gather data you can immediately use to improve the experience. If you’re aggregating key session data that reveals where users spend most of their time and feeding that directly back into your Jira backlog you’re doing it right. If you are logging umpteen data points from many sources and just sitting on it in thinking someday you might try to use machine learning to extract some insights, it's unlikely you will ever get value from that. 

If there’s anything you think I’ve missed please let me know. But keep in mind I’m not talking about every possible digital innovation, just the ones that directly benefit users. And if there’s a single thought to remember above all: if you focus is on how you can serve users, not what you can get from them, success will follow.