Digital Humanism's Impact on Customer Experience

September 10, 2015

Contributor: Christy Pettey

The pillars of digital humanism are the foundation of customer experience success in a highly connected world

Customer experience (CX) is the new competitive battlefield. As the interactions amongst people, businesses and things gives organizations additional customer touchpoints, it is critical to consider how those touchpoints impact the CX.

In her session at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit, Jenny Sussin, research director at Gartner, said that in order to compete on CX, organizations should know digital humanism and CX are intricately linked.

Speaking at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit, Gartner's Jenny Sussin explains that in digital business it's critical for organizations to make meaningful customer touchpoints.

Speaking at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit, Gartner's Jenny Sussin explains that in digital business it's critical for organizations to make meaningful customer touchpoints.

Digital humanism is a philosophy that puts human interests and values at the center of digital system design. Digital humanism will have to become part of the thinking of marketing, sales and service professionals for the fact that the touchpoints between organizations and their customers is becoming increasingly digitalized. Additionally, where markets commoditize experiences, the opportunity to create competitive differentiation increases by making these digital touchpoints uniquely human.

Put People at the Center

Putting people at the center requires a specific intent to implement a people-centered design process. Many terms can be used to describe this approach: user experience design, digital design, user-centered IT and intent-driven design. All of these approaches share a common practice: Defining a system's requirements is based on data gathered through observation, rather than solicitation.

Embrace Serendipity

Humans adapt design. We've all seen how children will often end up playing with the box a toy came in and forget about the toy. Children adapt the purpose of the box from container to entertainment. This desire of people to adapt design to unspecified needs also affects information systems.

“For example, the hashtag was not invented by Twitter. It was a user that came up with it, and the company embraced it. The use of hashtags was a serendipitous embrace of the desire of the Twitter community to provide a means for groups to organize themselves. This simple alteration has had a dramatic impact on how Twitter has evolved from individual thought streams to collective conversations,” said Ms. Sussin. “Organizations should adapt with their customers’ behaviors and allow the customers’ experiences to evolve as the customers them to.”

Give People Space

Digital humanism implies an ethical point of view, and the foundational ethic is not to intrude on people's personal space. When this ethical position is ignored, and it's combined with an effort to both engineer personal intelligence and prerogatives out of the system and maximize machine efficiency at the expense of usability, it results in technology that "crosses the creepy line." These are the systems that seek to know too much about you, or enable others to know more about you than you're comfortable with.

“Organizations can, and should, seek to personalize their services, so that they can rise above their competitors and be seen as trusted. Digital business initiatives, properly designed and executed, are powerful ways to achieve these objectives in our emerging digitalized world,” said Ms. Sussin. “Organizations can seek to empower their staff, so they can be seen as trusted advisors to the organizations' customers rather than just to their employees.”  

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