March 10, 2022

How Design Thinking and Emerging Technology Will Enhance Travel Experiences

Customer experience has become a significant competitive advantage in the travel industry, magnified by shifts in what travelers value. We’re on the cusp of an evolution in how emerging technology will enhance the travel experience from start to finish, moving from reactive to anticipatory and proactive customer experiences. 

Evolving expectations 

With more ways to spend their time and money than ever before, people expect more from their customer experiences. Today’s experiences are benchmarked against the best across all industries, which means companies compete with experiences completely outside their category for mindshare and wallet. So, when a company disrupts an industry or makes their service incredibly easy or more delightful, consumers wonder why everything can’t be that simple. Turns out, travel and technology are good companions. 

In the past, when a flight was canceled, it was enough for a travel company to supply travelers with the connection points and contact information to fix the issues themselves. We’re no longer in that era. Now, travelers will compare the self-service experience of dealing with a flight cancellation with the ease and simplicity of their favorite app — regardless of industry. The end-to-end service travelers receive is considered part of the product experience itself. 

The shift of customer focus from products to services to experiences has been happening for years, and the pandemic has only amplified the need for meaningful connection. Travelers are placing greater value on the trips they’re taking and the memories they are making. A recent report from Expedia Group found that 50% of travelers plan to spend more on trips than they did prior to the pandemic. 

Higher consumer expectations, coupled with an increased emphasis on the role of travel in our lives, has raised the bar considerably for travel providers who want to deliver great experiences.  

Human-Centered Design 

To become a traveler-centric company, we must put our deep understanding of traveler needs, preferences, and behaviors at the core of our work. Human-Centered Design allows our cross-functional teams to activate our expertise and innovate in real time: connecting travelers with inspiring ideas to explore their world, streamlining the planning process, and keeping relevant information at their fingertips throughout their trip. 

While historically, travel providers have viewed the transaction as the end of a traveler’s experience, Human-Centered Design enables an experience-led product and service design process that maps the traveler’s journey end-to-end and informs every touchpoint they have along the way. 

A shift to holistic thinking and personalized experiences 

The travel industry has a history of optimizing experiences for search and transactions. Instead of focusing on the transaction, travel providers need to focus on the relationship travelers have with their brand and use that to build more intuitive, personalized, and proactive experiences. Taking a more holistic view of the experience frees us from thinking in transactional silos and highlights how all the pieces interconnect. From discovery and planning, to booking, in-trip, and post-trip — it helps connect the journey across all channels and time. 

Travelers don’t see parts of the experience or features in isolation, to them it’s all one experience — and that’s exactly how companies need to see it too. 

Making technology human 

Technology is an enabler of great experiences. Leveraging artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and predictive analytics, companies can create hyper-personalized interactions that adapt to a traveler’s context and work across every aspect of their journey. At their core, experiences need to be humanized, starting with a cohesive design and conversational tone, removing jargon, reducing complexity, and streamlining interactions.  

Once that foundation is ready, companies can deliver real-time, personalized experiences that meet travelers where they are and provide the right information, at the right time, in the right context. Personalization unlocks a new level of experience quality. It moves us from a ‘one-to-many’ to a ‘one-to-one’ conversation with customers. Reflecting people’s needs and preferences while providing value at every interaction also builds trust. Companies can use data to anticipate issues and solve them using customer preferences and light touch interactions. 

Natural language processing allows for multimodal interaction, so travelers can interact in the most natural way for them — whether that’s through typing, tapping, or voice. Voice interaction will become increasingly prevalent over time, enabling a new generation of experiences that deliver actionable insights and real-time personalized interfaces. 

What’s next – hyper-personalization and prediction 

What’s considered bleeding-edge now will become table stakes in the future as customers’ expectations evolve. Where we’re heading is hyper-personalized interactions that adapt to context, work across the entire journey, and solve problems before travelers even know they have them — the future is predictive and proactive.  

This shifts us from a place where flight cancellations cause additional time and stress, to a world where issues are solved before travelers even know there’s a problem. A world where flights are rebooked and itineraries updated before travelers even know their flight was canceled, with orchestration happening behind the scenes, reducing the complexity and stress when things change. Systems that get better the more you interact with them, increasing value to travelers by anticipating their needs. 

This is where the power of journey orchestration and proactive experiences really come into view. Travel providers that take advantage of this trend can create better customer experiences, achieve higher conversion rates, and increase the value of each trip. They also can build long-term relationships with travelers instead of just transactions.

Originally posted at MyCustomer

April 9, 2020

Transforming User Experience in Banking – Business Insider Report

Last December, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a report released this week: Transforming User Experience in Banking.

“A human-centered design mythology offers the best way to truly understand customers and develop solutions that meet their needs — solving real customer problems and delivering experiences that resonate in market. However, it’s just one part of the whole. In order to be successful, this approach needs to be customized according to your company culture and DNA.”

The report outlines strategies that financial institutions are using to deliver a superior customer experience. It covers org structure, practice/process, research, measurement, and the importance of keeping the customer at the center of design initiatives.

January 31, 2020

The Tech Movement into Financial Services

Last August, I mentioned that people are concerned about fintechs/techfins getting into banking, but the real ones to watch are tech companies moving into financial services out of a necessity to remove friction in their process, improve their customer experience, and enable increased sales. As this signal gets louder, the interesting thing to note is how some are moving from the fringe and closer to core FS experiences.

  • Uber started by enabling more drivers to work on their platform by providing car loans and bank accounts, and is now looking to keep riders [and cash] in the ecosystem through Uber Money/credit card.
  • Amazon started providing small business loans to enable more sales on their platform, partnered on a credit card, and now also provides Amazon Cash for the unbanked and Amazon Pay to reduce online purchasing friction with more to come.
  • Apple started with Apple Pay and then moved to partnering on a credit card to keep money in the ecosystem, turn PFM into a lifestyle choice, and leverage the power of the default.
  • Microsoft is working on a retirement platform.
  • Google started with Android [Google] Pay and now announced a partnership to launch consumer checking accounts.

As we look to solve client needs across our companies, it’s critical to use a first principles approach vs. design by analogy. It’s not enough to digitize current processes — we need to innovate by deeply understanding our clients and solving problems that set the experience bar across industries. Experiences that meet clients where they are and integrate into their lifestyle, are relevant and timely, and align to their mental models of how things should work.

November 22, 2019

CXSF Keynote + Interview

This week, I’d like to share my recent CXSF keynote and interview (October 2019).

The Secret To Transformational CX Design: Your Org Chart  [podcast]
What does it take to design truly transformational, human-centric customer experiences? On this episode of What It Means, Bank of America’s Rachel Kobetz shares her insights, recorded live at CX SF.

Leading Innovation 
Innovation isn’t an idea problem. It’s everything else that gets in the way.

October 25, 2019

Setting the Bar Across Industries

Because of liquid expectations, customers compare the ease and use of an experience against the best in all industries. This means that being the best in financial services is no longer enough. Customers are comparing our experience to Google, Amazon, Uber, Nordstrom — that’s where the bar is. How does that change how we benchmark ourselves? How does it change the way we evaluate what great looks like?

Customer Expectations Hit All-Time Highs
What To Do When Consumers’ Expectations Outpace Their Experiences
Consumers Expect Everything On Demand, But Banks Are Slow To Respond
Getting Ready Now for the Future of Customer Experience
Living Business: Design-led Cultural and Organizational Transformation

August 30, 2019

Explicit Value Exchange Creates the Flywheel

When customers understand a clear value exchange, they are willing to pay for it. Amazon Prime started with 2-day free shipping that has evolved into something so much more. It’s really about changing customer behavior through reduced friction, in turn making Amazon the default choice. How can banks create their version of Amazon Prime that can deliver distinct value to customers while remaining simple? And how does that enable them to win the emerging battle to be the default?

Disruptive Interfaces & The Emerging Battle To Be The Default
Digital Banking Creates ‘Amazon Prime’ Opportunity
Banking Needs An ‘Amazon Prime’ Marketing Strategy
Amazon Virtuous Cycle
The making of Amazon Prime, the internet’s most successful and devastating membership program

Contact

info@kobewan.com

Design leadership and operations, building world-class organizations that integrate human-centered design to drive product innovation and customer-centric culture.

© 2022 kobewan

The present is a beta of a better future.