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Straight Talk Technology

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In the march toward digitalization, many companies that have not previously had a direct relationship with their end customer are now using digital services and applications to acquire greater customer insight and interact directly with the users of their products and services. However, enterprises must take care to focus their efforts on the needs of those customers, rather than force through the migration to a digital process. In particular, they must ensure that customer-facing applications are of sufficient quality to provide a strong and positive customer experience.

I have recently been experimenting with mobile applications produced by the major fuel companies in the UK, most of which now offer a means to pay for fuel without having to stand in a queue at the kiosk. The experience has been, to say the least, a poor one, and highlights this issue of digital process versus good customer experience. The applications themselves look as slick as one would expect from major multinational companies, but it is the digital process that is clearly not being thought through. Company A offers a very limited range of payment options and seems to circumvent the two-factor authentication that I had set up on one of these. Company B relied entirely on the mobile device's location to trigger its digital process – the only problem being that the app had miscalculated the location of my local fuel station, insisting that it was a further half mile down the road from its actual position. Company C's application was more successful in terms of filling up and paying for fuel, but required me to go through an inordinately long process to sign up to its "driver community," which entailed handing over far more data than felt comfortable. All three apps also involve integration with other third-party services such as payments and loyalty cards, highlighting the growing network of interconnected digital services where the consumer has very little visibility into how data is being acquired, shared, and used.

As enterprises progress with their digital strategy, it is easy to get carried away with process transformation, agile delivery, and minimum viable products. Customer testing is of course an integral part of that process, but it's important to understand the process from the end customer inward, and to design it with the end goal of a great customer experience in mind.

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