Embracing Slow Design for Profound Impact | NTT DATA

Fri, 31 May 2024

Embracing Slow Design for Profound Impact

Re-negotiating time: How to integrate technology and design to optimise customer and business outcomes

Operational efficiency is often hailed as the golden ticket that every consumer-driven business strives to optimise. As technology advances, so too does our obsession with efficiency. New tech solutions are constantly emerging, promising to keep up with the pace at which customer demands are constantly shifting and to shorten the customer journey. GenAI, chatbots, customer data platforms and other tech-based innovations have undeniably changed the game for businesses by stripping away time-consuming interactions in a quest to expedite and personalise customer journeys at scale.

However, striking the correct balance between customer experience and efficiency is a delicate challenge. As the design arm of NTT DATA, Tangity plays a crucial role in maintaining this balance by integrating technology and design to deliver impactful end-to-end solutions that enhance the customer experience. By merging advisory, design and technology, NTT DATA has been able to help businesses achieve digital transformations that don’t just streamline the customer experience, but actually add measurable value.

However, as businesses face mounting pressure to automate where possible, NTT DATA is asking: do businesses necessarily need to speed up every part of the customer journey? Conversely, is there value in ‘slowing down’ certain customer experiences?

Unlocking Efficiency Through Digital Transformation: The ‘Invisible’ Enablers of Instant Gratification

Technology often works discretely to meet the rising demand for instant gratification. Tools like contactless card readers, customer data platforms and various automated tools have all played a significant role in the digital transformation of consumerism and have become so ingrained in our daily routines that we now barely notice them. From leveraging real-time data analytics to personalising and streamlining experiences, these solutions anticipate customer needs, setting the stage for interactions that feel both intuitive and effortless. As a result, customers now expect every transaction or interaction to be instant and personalised, thereby shifting how time is experienced.

However, the rush to automate needs to be tempered with careful consideration for which technologies genuinely enhance business outcomes without compromising the desired customer experience. Automation is not a fix-all solution, nor does it guarantee success. Businesses need to identify which technology best serves the outlined purpose instead of rushing into automation purely because it's trending The decision to automate is about finding a balance between visible and invisible automation with the customer's best interests in mind. The crucial question is: which tech-based solution improves the customer experience but also benefits the business in terms of cost, time efficiency, productivity, scale, engagement, brand perception, and so on.

As consumers constantly demand more from businesses, adaptability is critical, as evidenced by Gartner’s view that the future of business is ‘composable’. Composable CX involves customer and employee experiences being designed for swift, sustainable differentiation in a way that delivers maximum business resilience and agility. The methodology enables every layer of the digital business to drive better outcomes in the face of increasing change and uncertainty. As a result, businesses tend to continuously iterate technology, making the process of design non-linear. Currently, Amazon runs 12,000 experiments annually to continuously enhance its user interface, ensuring the best possible customer experience.

Although, the Agile methodology has become deeply ingrained in modern business strategies, a balance needs to be found to ensure that a customer-centric focus remains at the heart of decision-making. In order, to effectively engage and connect with customers, businesses must weave the brand’s DNA into every touchpoint. However, the creativity that is put into branding needs to be balanced with practical design that genuinely prioritises the customer’s needs. Delivering viable products and services that both the business and the brand can support involves implementing technology that is future-proof.

Speeding Up vs Slowing Down: The Value of Incorporating ‘Slow Design’ Concepts into Business Strategy

In delivering customer-centric operations, businesses should start with the customer vision and work backwards. The process of design involves knowing when to slow things down and when to speed up or be agile. Slow Design is a philosophy popularised by Carolyn F Strauss who advocated for a design orientation towards social, cultural, and environmental sustainability. The key is to find a balance between what’s viable for a business, and what is desirable and useful to customers.

This is illustrated in a concept that CX designers have termed ‘good friction’. This term is used to describe the act of intentionally slowing down consumer experiences so that they are not rushed into making a decision. A pertinent example is the increasingly common experience of accepting or rejecting cookies when accessing online content. How often have you accepted cookies on a website because the task of going through the cookie policy to reject unwanted trackers is too time-consuming? As consumers increasingly opt for the more convenient route, we are seeing a concerning trend of customers choosing to put aside trust for convenience. This ‘dark pattern’ shows that businesses have begun to take advantage of how customers habitually interact with technology to further their own interests.

When integrating technology, businesses have an ethical responsibility to prioritise the customers’ best interests over their own growth opportunities.

Building Trust: A Holistic Approach to Customer Duty

Ultimately, there needs to be a focus on selling products and services ethically and in a way that isn’t detrimental to people and their well-being. Brand reputation is built on trust; therefore, core values should inform decision-making. As social media amplifies customer voice, brands are increasingly held to account for the social, cultural and environmental impact of their business activities. With the rise of terms such as ‘green-washing’, the process of building trust must extend beyond surface-level efforts.

The Financial Conduct Authority’s Customer Duty Act signals a shift in expectations, primarily within the finance and insurance sectors, but its ethos should extend across all industries. In advocating for a business approach that consistently puts customer interests first, the Customer Duty Act forces businesses to slow down and consider their broader impact. Tangity, the design arm of NTT DATA, has incorporated this philosophy into its latest Directions report. The report uses real-life case studies to understand how the automation revolution has impacted human and planetary health. As CX designers, Tangity is leading the way in driving a ‘time reclaim’ revolution by putting concepts like Slow Design at the forefront of sustainable business transformations.

Are you interested in learning more about how you can incorporate Slow Design principles into your business strategy? Read Tangity’s full Directions 24 report here: https://tangity.medium.com/d24-re-negotiating-time-fd351efe566a

Additionally, if you are interested in setting up a meeting to discuss how NTT DATA and Tangity can guide your organisation in implementing these design strategies, please contact either Stephanie Lachar, Head of Tangity UK (stephanie.lacher@nttdata.com) or Arnau Rovira, Head of Customer Experience at NTT DATA UK&I (arnau.rovira@nttdata.com).

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