Always passionate about language and the written word, Serafina Frongia has honed her expertise in content strategy over the course of her career.
“I began my professional career right as the print industry confronted the massive impact of digital technology,” she said. “What was increasingly needed in this evolving space were lovers of content experiences — not just words, but also infographics and videos as well as behind-the-scenes tools like content types, style guides and lexicons.”
Frongia is currently a vice president at Wells Fargo where she leads a team which provides user-centric content experiences for the bank’s digital properties aimed at its business customers. She joined the Wells Fargo Digital Solutions for Business team in March 2013 after working as content manager for WCM vendor Sitecore.
In-Language Content, a Key to Personalized Experiences
Looking ahead, Frongia anticipates multilingual and localized content becoming the norm rather than the exception for the digital customer experience. While the true promise of a digital experience is “anyone, anywhere, at any time,” the primary DX delivery vehicle still largely appears to be American English.
“There have been significant strides taken by companies and industries that conduct business internationally to provide translated and/or localized content,” Frongia said. “But there’s a potential lack of awareness that can hold businesses back from reaching the full scope of their audience and meeting them on their terms.”
Solutions for machine translation have decreased in cost and complexity and site management tools have increased in sophistication, so the barriers to successful preferential language execution have lowered significantly, she added.
“Just as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for differently abled users have led to stronger, more usable experiences for all, I hope to see in-language content become a core consideration for personalized experiences,” Frongia said.
Frongia will be speaking at CMSWire’s DX Summit taking place Nov. 12 to 14 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago. She will give a session titled “5 Things Digital Experience Leaders Need to Know About UI/UX” on Nov. 13.
We spoke with Frongia about the promise of artificial intelligence, the approach Wells Fargo is taking to customer digital experience, and the importance of user-centered design.
'Learn Once, Reflect Everywhere'
CMSWire: What do you find most exciting about emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and sophisticated personalization? What do you see as their future promise for how they will benefit customers and companies?
Frongia: AI gives us the opportunity to deliver personalized guidance at scale, something we wouldn’t have previously been able to achieve for our millions of customers. Insights surfaced by AI enrich conversations about financial decisions among team members and customers.
Earlier this year, we launched predictive banking nationally to all consumer deposit customers and small business customers. This in-app feature provides customers with personalized insights into their spending and savings, and allows them to take action to avoid negative outcomes and to save more.
Capabilities such as this break down data in a way that is easy for customers to understand and gives them more power to make decisions about their finances.
CMSWire: Where do you see the primary gaps today in the kinds of digital experiences companies are delivering to customers and the kinds of digital experiences those customers are expecting?
Frongia: One of the biggest gaps has to be what I think of as situational context — customers want brands and companies to be available on their terms. The digital world has fragmented the places where those customers interact with businesses.
In banking, that translates to understanding how a customer might research small business financing options through her mobile app, ask a few questions of a loan specialist when she’s at her local branch making a deposit, and then start an application on her laptop.
From the customer’s perspective, that’s all part of an ongoing experience with the bank, whereas in relation to a bank’s organizational structure, that journey took the customer through the “domains” of two to five different groups — each with their own systems and processes.
CMSWire: How should companies work to identify and then close gaps in customer digital experience?
Frongia: Service design or experience blueprinting are great methods to first see these gaps from the user’s point of view, and then work to close them. A common pain point that emerges is siloed systems which inhibit the sharing of data.
The hypothetical customer experiences these silos when the same questions she answered during her research on the mobile device, for instance, about annual income or location, are asked again once when she signs on from her laptop.
In content, a common mantra is “create once, publish everywhere.” Similarly, organizations can seek to “learn once, reflect everywhere” to remove silos and get closer to delivering an omnichannel relationship to their audience.
CMSWire: In your opinion, why do companies struggle to see content as an integral and seamless part of digital customer experience? What advice do you have for organizations in rethinking their approach to content?
Frongia: This struggle can stem from equating content only with copy, as in “marketing copy” or “sales materials.” That content is something that only matters near the tail end of a project or program.
Organizations with a broader lens see content as communication, from a button label on a landing page to a promotional video to a customer service representative script to scripts for virtual voice assistants like Alexa. Organizations with this outlook integrate content strategies from the beginning and are positioned to make better choices when developing each of those elements.
So when you think about your brand’s main web presence and the tasks users will undertake on that site journey like newsletter signups, social shares or downloads, I’d advise you to think about content along the way. What pages and touchpoints did the user pass through to get to that call-to-action?
CMSWire: How would you describe the focus and goals for Well Fargo’s digital customer experience and content strategy as it stands today and for the future?
Frongia: Wells Fargo is focused on simplicity and transparency when it comes to the digital experiences we provide.
One area I’m active in is establishing the content experience for a new approach to business lending, reimagining the end-to-end process and looking at what can be automated. How can we scale effectively for multiple loan types across small, mid-sized and commercial business needs? What impact does the gig economy have on who we think of as our target audience?
And more specifically into content strategy considerations, elements like how do users want to be notified about loan application progress, and how can content provide transparency and clarity into the process?
CMSWire: What lessons learned and best practices would you share with other organizations who would like to emulate Wells Fargo’s success?
Frongia: I can’t imagine attempting a transformation of this type without our deep commitment to user insights at every step of the product development process.
The research practice and user-centered design methodologies are seen as standard operating procedures, not “nice-to-haves.”
From ethnographic insights into a user’s context to usability testing of potential site improvements to pilot programs that directly inform a stronger go-to-market strategy, the customer’s voice is asked for, listened to and acted on every step of the way.
CMSWire: Who is your favorite fictional character and what appeals to you so much about them? If you could spend a day with them, what activities would you plan for the two of you to do and why would you choose those activities?
Frongia: At the risk of exposing myself as a very specific type of nerd, I’d have to say the detective Hercule Poirot as created by mystery author Agatha Christie. He’s poised, mischievous, sublimely intelligent and, probably most admirable, completely aware of exactly who he is, flaws and all.
Any day with Hercule would likely end with a corpse in a locked room but until then, I’d want nothing more than to sip espresso at some fashionable Parisian café and to people watch. We could take turns testing our skills at identifying dastardly jewel thieves in disguise and tragic socialites under the thumb of a blackmailing scoundrel. Heaven!
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