As you’re scrolling around the web today, trying to take care of important chores as quickly as possible, imagine a scenario where the internet has a sixth sense about what you are trying to do. I don’t mean in a nefarious, intrusive way, but rather as a helpful online assistant who knows when to keep its distance, and when to whizz you past pages and pages of virtual “bargain basket” aisles, directly to the object of your desire -- or straight to the checkout.
Today, difficulty in getting things done digitally is commonplace and highly frustrating. Ever tried to order a shirt from an online retailer only to face a technical glitch at the last minute? Or quickly pay a bill using your smartphone during your commute, only to get lost somewhere on the homepage?
No matter how talented your web designers, how strong your IT infrastructure, or how desirable your products, increasingly frustrating technical glitches and usability issues happen all the time. For online retailers and other businesses, this spells disaster. All the months-long marketing campaigns and advertising strategies deployed to get a customer to your digital “storefront” can be completely destroyed by a singular obstinate failure at the wrong time. Worse still, your customer may then go to your competitor to buy their product instead. After all, at the end of the day, that’s all they wanted to do: buy something. And they are going to do that by the easiest means possible.
Many online retailers think enhanced technical support is the answer, but few customers have the time and patience to hang around and wait while the problem is fixed, and the ease of switching sites, apps or brands makes it very easy for them to simply navigate away, maybe forever.
Instead, the real long-term solution lies in transforming the very concept of an app or website: from a one-dimensional collection of pages with graphics and hyperlinks, to an intuitively intelligent and responsive tool which not only enables you to complete your tasks, but actively helps pick the best option for you, quickly and securely.
Think of it as a new language, where the data received is instantaneously translated into actionable adjustments that make your customers’ online experience smoother, quicker, more personalized, and ultimately much more enjoyable.
At Clicktale, we continue to gather and compile unique behavioral data sets which enable us to identify patterns of customer intent, making predictive adjustments a realistic core feature in the websites of the not-so-distant future. Customer behavioral analytics will enable us to adjust and change the user experience -- as it happens -- for the better. This is the concept behind what I term “The Proactive Net” -- the next futuristic stage in the evolution of digital business. While we may be a few years away from making this a reality, its vast potential is obvious today.
Take, for example, Joe Bloggs, who wants to buy himself a shirt online.
He has spent hours researching the design he likes best, even picking cufflinks to match. But when it comes to clicking on the ‘buy’ button, something goes wrong. Today, some would use descriptive analytics to determine what happened, and diagnostics to find out why -- but this doesn’t help Joe in the moment. Joe is both thoroughly annoyed, and able to quickly turn to another retailer to buy his shirt.
The Proactive Net will take businesses from merely understanding Joe’s problem, to preventing it from happening in the first place.
Having tracked and analyzed Joe’s behavior, The Proactive Net will be able to automatically adjust the website to make it uniquely suitable for Joe’s personal experience -- by highlighting the relevant button once Joe has picked the shirt he wants, or showing him relevant styles for specific occasions. Most importantly, this new form of proactive experiences, based on interpreted user data, will help cut down on the amount of time Joe has to spend browsing an app or website in order to find the relevant size, style and pattern he prefers.
And no, Joe will not see those annoying ads for that same shirt appearing on every website he visits for the next month.
Of course The Proactive Net has applications far beyond retail - from banking transactions to search engines, travel websites and insurance companies.
The only problem? It doesn’t exist yet.
At Clicktale, we are developing technology that will serve as the basis for this revolution in digital customer experience. Today, we analyze the behaviors of millions of visitors on thousands of apps and websites, interpreting anything from how long they spend on a landing page right down to discerning patterns of their mouse movements. From these insights, we are able to develop predictions on the likelihood of customers intending to do something even before they do it. In the future, this same information will enable and inform the development of websites and apps that essentially modify themselves, according to the individual visitor’s needs, in real time -- enabling a more personal, relevant and enjoyable customer experience.
Today we’ve begun setting the wheels in motion, as we lay the infrastructure for the introduction of The Proactive Net.
In the meantime, there are steps businesses can take in order to be best prepared -- steps that will help immediately, as well as in the longer term:
The first step is to collect behavioral data in all of the places you are having digital “conversations” with your customers: website, mobile, apps. This collection is easy: the challenge is to make sense of this data and interpret it in order to gain valuable insights into how your customers are behaving - and crucially, why. You’d be amazed how many businesses ignore the wealth of information that digital customer experience solutions can tell them about the needs of their visitors.
The second step is to test your assumptions about the typical behaviors of your customers, based on your findings -- and adjust accordingly.
The final step is continuous testing, evaluations and improvements of your website. Apply this new knowledge into a new level of customization of your website. The key is not to have a single interface for every customer regardless of need, geographical location, time of day, mood, or mode of accessing your site, but rather to produce a creative contextual browsing experience that adapts to your client’s unique and individual needs.
The bottom line? The Proactive Net is a reality coming to your computer, smartphone and tablet soon. The time to get ready is now.