touchscreen vending machine
The connected experience is already here — and we need to be delivering it PHOTO: Danny Choo

In 10 years, websites will no longer exist — at least not in the traditional sense. 

Websites have been around for over 20 years and while the presentation layers have become slicker, the vast majority are still just basically digitized brochures. 

But in the last few years customer expectations have changed the way we interact in the digital world.

Customer Experience, On the Go

Being online no longer means sitting in front of a computer screen. The shift is coming where we no longer will be driving people to our websites. 

Prospects and customers alike will instead demand that we provide them with the information they need to help them move along their process or digital journey as smoothly and easily as possible. 

The interface to the web became the search bar and we focused on search engine optimization to deliver our content. Then social media and smart phones moved us away from interacting on desktop screens to a mobile world where interaction is the domain of the specialized app. 

Along with that that came the increasing demand for more snackable chunks of content.

We're Not Talking the Future

So what’s next? Reaching customers in new ways means embracing that ever-evolving digital world. 

In fact it may not be a truly digital world anymore, but a seamless integration of the digital and physical. Customer experience is becoming the connected experience across the Internet of Things.

When you think about the Internet of Things and other technologies grabbing the headlines, you may be considering things like Virtual Reality, and relax thinking that these may be some years away (and I’m not sure some of them will ever gain widespread adoption).

The truth is the connected experience is already here and we need to be delivering it.

The increasing functionality, accuracy and integration of voice-driven digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa are driving an audible customer experience where the complete interaction is voice driven. 

Do you have an audio content strategy in place?

We're Talking the Here and Now

While out Christmas shopping at the mall recently I took some time to study the digital signage that is taking over from the old static maps and poster advertising. 

With video, touch screens and links to the web, these signs are moving information gathering from a passive to an interactive customer experience. Add an iBeacon to the signage that can detect your phone and it’s a short step to delivering a totally personalized experience.

Amazon is starting to trial a new retail experience where the store recognizes your phone as you enter, and it knows what you picked up from the shelf and charges you on the way out. 

How about a store where it is linked with an ecommerce site? Or one that provides a suggested location for the things you are most likely to want based on your purchase history?  

If you’ve seen the movie Minority Report this may all seem a bit familiar. But it isn’t science fiction anymore.

On the way home from the mall I enjoyed the drive in my car with its heads-up display and centralized screen for navigation and entertainment. That screen also displays relevant parts of the owner’s manual in response to any warning light that goes off, and if I want, it will also deliver interactive real time driving tips.

How many other in situ screens do we interact with on a daily basis now? 

From seat-back screens on a flight, to ATMs and even TV screens on gas pumps — all are examples of new channels for a connected customer experience.

Providing Value Takes Foresight and Preparation

Thinking that customer experience is all about your online presence and your call center is not enough anymore. 

We now need to deliver just the right amount of intelligent structured content in context — providing the customer the information they need at the time they need it for the platform/location they are on.

But to do this will take foresight and preparation. To reach customers in new ways, you must first create the information architecture, structure and metadata around components of content and chunks of microdata that will provide value down the line.