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Technology has made the cost of switching banks, airlines, or telecom providers extremely low. After all, information is easily accessible across the globe, and innovation and disruption are a constant. Any digital experience secret sauce a company has today is fleeting as the market rapidly shifts.
To create a sustainable advantage in the digital economy, you must consistently make customers feel good about your brand. "Know thy customer" has never been more important.
McDonald's was able to reverse a two-year earnings slump by investing in the little things that improve the customer experience. These include: a streamlined and simplified menu, improved order accuracy, and investments in food quality and ingredients. Even McDonald's time-tested formula of delivering burgers quickly and cheaply is no longer a competitive advantage. So the company refocused on the holistic customer experience.
But let's think about the customer experience in digital terms. With consumers increasingly connecting with brands digitally, knowing customer behavior is even more pivotal. Understanding when, where, and how customers engage with digital assets allows brands to get the little things right. The experience also needs to be consistent across mobile devices, operating systems and browsers. Unfortunately, what customers want is not delivered on a silver platter. Focusing on the little things and ensuring apps and responsive websites work seamlessly will separate winners from the also-rans.
We've identified three brands providing differentiated digital customer experiences by getting the little things right. ESPN, Lloyds Bank and CVS.
When ESPN redesigned their responsive websites and digital experiences, they needed assets that could consistently provide content across tablets, smartphones, PCs, smartwatches and cars. ESPN figured that different users in different parts of the world would want to consume content more relevant to their favorite teams. They also learned that users are more interested in different content at different times of the day. Fans bored at work would consume sports content much differently than fans on the go or at the game. ESPN's revamped digital experience not only delivers content tailored to a specific device but customized to interest, time of day and location.
ESPN has dedicated the last three years to enhancing the digital experience across devices.
The look and feel of the ESPN mobile app, responsive website and desktop site are also consistent and synchronized so users can easily migrate across devices without skipping a beat.
Lloyds Bank of London is another brand creating valuable features that improve the digital experience. It was one of the first banks to roll out mobile app features like loan calculators, product comparison tools and tailored cash-back offers based on customers' past transactions. The app also provides a range of transfer options, and allows users to book appointments at branches and alert the bank when they're travelling.
Lloyds laser-focus on customer needs has not gone unnoticed. It has 4+ star average ratings on both the Android and iOS app stores. It was also chosen by Forrester Research two years in a row (2015 and 2016) as having the most capable mobile services among all UK banks.
CVS Pharmacy also examined how users engage with their brand when developing their digital strategy. The brand is so serious about digital that they created a digital innovation lab. The lab tests technology and pinpoints the little things that make the most difference to customers.
CVS is a mobile innovator that fills its app with useful features for discounts, payment services and prescription refills.
Through their research, CVS discovered that one of the more time-consuming customer processes was the fulfillment of prescriptions and the checkout procedure. Consequently, they have focused on making this experience as pleasurable as possible, and the mobile app is a key component. The CVS mobile app allows users to refill prescriptions by just scanning the barcode on the package or taking a photo of the written prescription. The company's ExtraCare rewards program is also integrated into the mobile app. Customers can keep track of coupons within the app and scan the ExtraCare barcode to confirm discounts at checkout. CVS also continues to push the mobile envelop by implementing Google's Beacon program to send mobile alerts about coupons and sales to customers who are physically near stores.
To take the next step, CVS just launched its own digital payments service to reduce the steps required to check out. To avoid depending on outdated POS (point of sale) hardware, the app creates a barcode that can be scanned by the most basic POS system. Even if a scanner is not available -- such as when a user drives up to a window -- a PIN is created to validate the transaction. The app also allows users to store various payment options including Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts.
ESPN, Lloyds and CVS have all built sophisticated apps and websites that are designed to make life easier for the customer anywhere, on any device, at any time. The little things that reduce friction can vastly improve the user experience, but they also need to work every time.
A focused digital quality testing strategy is the best way to ensure complex apps function properly and reduce friction instead of causing it. Developers and testers should follow the lead of ESPN, CVS, and Lloyds and consider including these four tactics in their digital quality strategy.
With clear and frequent communication with business and marketing groups, testers will have a better understanding of who the customer is, the environment the app will be running in, and how it is expected to behave. This knowledge helps testers stop testing in a vacuum. They'll be free to design testing strategies more in line with how the app is used by real people.
Application testing is time-consuming. With automation, more tests can be run on more devices and more bugs can be fixed more quickly. In addition, automation test scripts can be used and re-used many times at no extra cost. They can be used across different devices and operating systems simultaneously through one script. ESPN, CVS and Lloyds know that mobile innovation moves fast and that you can't meet release deadlines doing manual testing.
Thinking about the real-world conditions in which an app is used and incorporating this into your testing strategy can help you identify potential problems. Will the app work in various network and low battery conditions? How will the app handle disruptions or apps running in the background hogging resources?
In the digital economy, patience is nonexistent. To provide a good user experience the app has to be fast, especially in high traffic conditions. Therefore, teams need to do performance testing to measure the speed and effectiveness of an app. Key performance tests include how long logins, purchases and searches take when there is a high user load.
ESPN, CVS, and Lloyds Bank are three brands that are successfully executing these types of digital strategies. They understand their customers' behavior. They do the little things well to ensure that apps work under various real world user conditions. This focus will help them and other digital innovators keep existing customers and attract new ones.