April 7, 2020
Creating sensitive digital experiences in a world of physical separation
by Dan Clay & Rupesh Patel
Never before have digital experiences been so essential in building customer relationships.
Even customers who prefer face-to-face interactions are confined to only interacting with brands and services online. So, how do we ensure that the digital experience is one they’ll love? And how can our technologies earn permission to be deeply integrated into their lives, forming a connection that lasts even after this crisis ends?
At Lippincott, we developed a design approach underpinned by behavioral science to help companies realize their digital potential. We call it Sensitive Technology, and it offers a blueprint for brands to follow so that their digital experiences are understanding, compassionate, perceptive, attentive and delicate.
“Sensitive technologies” account for our human nature as well as our context, and they respond considerately. In a time of crisis and uncertainty, this matters now more than ever. We propose five sensitivities in particular that technologies need to account for.
It takes only 100 milliseconds for us to form a lasting first impression. Acknowledge what may be a challenging context, and help customers overcome the “first-time challenge” by breaking early tasks into easy, discrete steps. And find a way to bring joy quickly. Otherwise customers may abandon you before they’re even on-boarded.
Vanguard has adapted their digital homepage to provide expert reassurance about volatile markets. What welcoming message could help calm your customers and ease them into your experience?
Economics Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler studies our “ambiguity aversion.” Human beings hate the unknown. And for many, it’s a time of profound and unsettling ambiguity. Bridge the “certainty gap” by making concrete and realistic commitments and take small steps to relieve anxiety (researchers have proven that even small things, like a compassionate tone or calm music, can significantly soothe us).
Deliveroo, a food delivery platform in the UK, committed to contact-free delivery and sent detailed descriptions to all customers of the steps the company is taking to ensure safety. Additionally, it now allows customers to sort restaurant options by hygiene rating, providing an element of transparency that allows customers to feel more secure about the food they’re receiving.
What reassurance could you proactively offer customers to give them a sense of certainty?
Loss aversion is another essential truth of behavioral science. We hate losing even more than we love gaining. There’s a lot at stake at the moment, so take steps to make risk a nonissue. Speak unwaveringly and decisively about refunds, cleaning practices, and other protective measures that make your digital space feel safe for customers.
Digit, a savings and debt manager app, immediately reached out to customers to reassure them that their money was safe with the app and FDIC-insured up to $250,000. This unequivocally communicated that savings are protected against the market volatility the world is currently experiencing.
Delta’s app proactively and decisively informs customers that any flight cancelled during the pandemic will get a full refund, no fees. “Rest assured the value of your ticket won’t be lost if you decide to make a change.”
What protections could you put in place to make risk a nonissue?
Connect with me
Human subtleties are often lost in technology. But currently, for many people, our only connections are digital. Sensitive technologies can build connections by being understanding, empathetic, and even trusting. One simple, meaningful way: it’s a time of unexpected difficulty, so give the unexpected.
Google Home released an update designed to help users stay safe from coronavirus by helping them keep track of how long they should be washing their hands for. When users say, “hey Google, help me wash my hands” to their device, it replies: “The hardest part about washing your hands is doing it for long enough. I’ll play a tune for 40-seconds, keep at it until the music stops.” It’s a simple, yet powerfully relevant feature, driving strong connection by empathizing with customers’ struggles.
ZOE, a startup in the UK, created the Covid Symptom Tracker, an app that allows users to simply track their daily symptoms and share it with medical researchers to help them get a better sense of how the pandemic is spreading through the UK. That it has connected with people across the UK is plain: the app has been downloaded over a million times since its launch in mid-March.
What exceptions and offerings can your company make to help customers through difficult times while forming deeper, empathetic connections?
Be good for me
Sensitive technologies focus on improving your life. At its best, technology can be a unique and empowering partner for making progress in life. Are there ways you can help customers achieve their goals, even at a time when much of the world is standing still? Are there ways you can be an unforeseen light in their life during what might be a dark time?
LinkedIn has opened up 16 of its learning courses for free, including courses that help users build relationships virtually and run successful virtual meetings. What gestures can you offer to help customers push toward their goals?
Explore the full report for dozens of actionable principles and tangible examples for how you can ensure your digital experience is forming lasting customer connections. As our customers, out of necessity, increasingly traverse our digital landscape, technologies sensitive to their thoughts, feelings and habits can stand out and become deeply integrated into their lives. Out of this difficult time, we can create lifetime relationships founded on empathy, connection, and human understanding.