“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations” -- Roy H. Williams

The content-driven experience is ultimately the expression of the relationship between a DAM and the user. This dynamic is often overlooked when developing the rules or practices that drive a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. The ability to easily deliver or find the right content, at the right time is the goal of DAM and the cornerstone of delivering positive customer experience internally and externally. The perception of experience, however, is affected by expectations. Understanding and integrating those expectations into the design of the DAM infrastructure is key.

If you're happy and you know it …

It's been said that, “our happiness depends less on objective conditions and more on our own expectations. Expectations, however, tend to adapt to conditions.” We not only hold expectations high but also create them to serve our needs as much as possible. But what if our expectations are out of sync with the conditions of a DAM implementation? For example:

  • What are the assumptions about the type and completeness of the assets in the DAM? Do users assume that all digital content from the organization will be there?
  • What keywords are expected by applied to retrieve content?
  • How much content is expected back from a search? Is it very narrow or do users want to see a variety of results and choose for themselves?

Gauge user expectations at the beginning of the DAM planning stage to match features and functionalities to these expectations.

Experience Touchpoints

What exactly is an “experience”? The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines “experience” as:

  • A practical contact with and observation of facts or events
  • An event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone

The practical contact points of the DAM are sometimes referred to as "touchpoints." The more touchpoints there are, the faster and more effective an organization will be in managing the content it has created, bought, sold or licensed. There are some key touchpoints that need to be addressed and understood by the organization in order to drive the user experience.

1. Onboarding

A user’s initial introduction to the DAM can provide a window into their expectations for how they would like to interact with the system. Teaching tagging concurrently with search and discovery will aid in creating top-down, judgment-driven evaluations and bottom-up, data-driven analysis. We recommend pursuing these efforts in parallel whenever possible.

2. Metadata

Good metadata design will increase the return on investment of the assets you have created and is a line of defense against lost opportunities. Think about the digital experience for your users in the way that they need to interact with content and assets to ensure easy identification, discovery and positive user experience.

3. Taxonomy

Without knowing the context of certain words in your organization, search can fail to provide specificity or weight to search terms. A strong controlled vocabulary will help prevent the dreaded “No results” page by linking synonyms and misspellings to the proper terms. In addition, the taxonomy will link synonyms, possible misspellings and acronyms to the terms that are actually written in the documents. Access to the right content is critical.

4. Roles and Permissions

The other side of managing the customer experience is the construction of permissions, users’ roles and security for the DAM. It is never too early to start working on the business rules and practices around access to content. A comprehensive metadata model with fields that are specific to rights usage and management will be critical for users’ ability to use and reuse assets appropriately. Application of security protocols adds a layer of protection and conscientious management.

5. Content Stewardship

The power of DAM is driven by people who can make changes and align DAM with strategic goals of the organization. DAM champions might manage daily operations or act as advocates for budget allocation and interface with multiple stakeholders like Digital Asset Managers, Business Analysts and Technical Engineers. Strong governance ties people together to manage change.

Customer Experience Starts from the Beginning

If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will." -- Unknown

Identifying which problems to solve will be the most important point on your DAM journey. First step: identify the specific audience and their needs. Take the time to understand usage scenarios -- who will be using the DAM and what procedures / output do they need. By gathering feedback, the possibility of damaging workarounds will be minimized.  

Workarounds will still be a problem. When in doubt, people will choose the path of least resistance and bypass the problem, thereby ignoring the issues to be solved. Even worse, while workarounds are often temporary by design, they can easily become entrenched within the culture and ultimately become habitual, if not a convention adopted by a team or department. The goal is to minimize workarounds and maximize your touchpoints.

In customer experience, conversions matter. Not just to the design professionals, but to the executives and corporate champions who own the overall DAM strategy of their business. In the end, conversion is the outcome that has real implications on whether or not the DAM works.

Focus on good design and making sure those who use the DAM are happy and satisfied. User experience never ends -- it is a journey of discipline, work and the pursuit of an ever-higher standard -- but you must begin your work. Real experiences and continuous, explorative learning will guide you on this path.

You're Building a Foundation

Providing a great user experience requires research, follow-up and clear and intentional policies. There must also be built-in roadmaps for managing new requirements and technologies. Having a strong DAM will make it easier for creative professionals and all those working in marketing, communications and operations to provide a strong message to external customers.

Using DAM effectively can deliver knowledge and measurable cost savings, time to market 
gains, and greater brand voice consistency -- all valuable and meaningful benefits that form a digital strategy foundation.

Title by Eddy Galeotti / Shutterstock.com