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Creating meaningful experiences: Apps, automation, analytics, and AI

COVID-19 forced many businesses to develop apps to engage with customers remotely, but the speed of adoption caused problems. What's often missing is the strategic understanding of the role apps and other digital products play in the experience ecosystem.

Recently, I had the privilege of contributing to the rapid testing of a leading COVID-19 vaccine. Being onboarded onto a medical research study highlighted how to create meaningful user experiences during 'moments that matter'. Here, I share three learnings from my experience.

1. Arm users with relevant information

As a research participant, I naturally had concerns before, during, and after the study. Thoughts of 'what if?' and 'what's next?' are common when people are faced with uncertainty. The same is true for purchasing decisions, so you need to reassure your customers.

Why is this important?

The disruption of 2020 has made customers more cautious, more willing to express feelings of approval or dissatisfaction, and more likely to want digital interactions. Businesses must ensure they equip customers with all the relevant information and process visibility they need to make an informed and confident purchasing decision.

How apps can help

  • Surface relevant content and crucial information throughout the app
  • Empower customers to access additional information at their leisure
  • Customize and personalize content to individual user needs

Learnings from my experience

During the medical research study, I would have appreciated the option to download the research app earlier on. An in-app tour – designed to build my understanding of the various steps of the upcoming journey – would have made me feel both educated on what to expect and reassured that I would be looked after. The same rings true for purchasing decisions.

2. Leverage automation, analytics, and AI

As I arrived at the research center, I was asked to complete a paper personal information form. My email address was then transcribed incorrectly into the system required to activate my study app. Without realizing the downstream impact of that error, I moved to review the consent forms on an iPad – a far more comfortable design choice for me.

I was then asked to download the research app, which would only activate after my physical with a nurse. The physical was long, and it was unclear why some of the information wasn't prepopulated from my medical records or collected as part of a prescreen.

An hour on, I was given the green light to activate my app. That's when the email address typo caused problems – we couldn't figure out why the app wasn't letting me register. It seems a password link generated at check-in bounced, but the system wasn't designed to create an alert.

Why is this important?

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Businesses need to eliminate the frustration customers often experience when entering their information. Their intent is to quickly get to their desired objective, not get stuck in 'digital paperwork'. Businesses must leverage automation, analytics, and AI to digitally welcome customers seamlessly.

How apps can help

  • Streamline UX design to onboard customers quickly
  • Capture only essential information to keep the experience moving
  • Leverage autofill, predictive analytics, or other digital data tools to use what you already know about your customers
  • Embed conversational AI to increase engagement and stickiness
  • Measure and continually optimize to keep experiences fresh

Learnings from my experience

During the research study's onboarding, personal data from other medical database systems could have been transferred to the app rather than entered manually. Speed is an essential part of delivering a seamless data experience. It's also important to plan for interventions and checks for when something isn't working or is taking longer than expected.

3. Continually listen, learn, and adjust

I had no idea how long I would be at the research center, and there was no information to keep me informed. After onboarding, the inoculation, observation, and follow-up booking came next. I was grateful to contribute to such important medical research, but it took much longer than I anticipated. And there was no survey – no one checked in on how I felt about the experience.

Why is this important?

Even the most well-thought-out experiences need continual review. Performance measurement is key to iterative design improvement. Customers are always willing and open to sharing feedback – businesses just need to give them a platform to do so.

How apps can help

  • Use apps to push surveys and allow customers to rate individual contributors
  • Gamify these interactions to increase the likelihood of survey completion
  • Apps and social media need to be connected – the voice of the customer can be a powerful asset and a big threat, so it needs continual monitoring

Learnings from my experience

As I mentioned, a survey would have allowed me to share feedback for improving the experience for research participants. If it had been connected to social media or another form of engagement, I could have praised the nurse who was working with me and thanked her for her professionalism and positivity.

Ultimately, wherever you are on your app journey, taking these three learnings into consideration will help your businesses develop a meaningful and memorable user experience.

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The author of this article is Martin Zalewski, managing director and Europe business leader solutions at Rightpoint, a Genpact company, and was first published on