Please, stand down from that digital directors’ seat

I just called my bank, but it has not been any odd call. I pick up the phone, it is not a strange or hidden number, it seems to be a normal mobile line. In spite of being the one who receives the call, on the other side, a pre-recorded voice tells me: “Hello, we will attend to you right away”, a second later: “Do not hang up, we will be with you immediately”.

This happens a couple of times more, but I endure as an interested observer, just for the pleasure of discovering new forms of mistreatment to the client.
Finally the machine seems to “connect” with someone on the other side, I hear a loud ambient noise with people talking in the background. I wait a couple of seconds, as nobody talks to me, I throw a couple of “hello?”. Nothing, two seconds later, I hang up.

Were we not in the customer era? All the Powerpoints of the world on digital transformation say so

I know who they are, they’ll call again. It is a digital bank, “son” of one of the traditional banks that denied everything digital for years and now disguises itself as a young person. One of those delayed attempts of digitalization that fulfills everything expected according to the manual of ‘Fixation’: it has cool colors as my partner Javi would say, a modern naming and their branding comes with a ‘Hello!’ Instead of a ‘Dear Customer’. Under their logo, a claim that seems to have understood the disruption that was already of the type: ‘we make it easy’, ‘with people’, ‘the new way of doing banking’ …

I have been called many times with offers of financial products totally out of line with my needs, depersonalized offers sent to “the entire database”, without any procedure to improve it even if I indicated to them that I was not interested in that offer or similar, for excluding reasons.

Neither personalization, nor Big Data or anything at all. They preferred to dynamite their resources and the possibilities of initial brand engagement based on interruption .

In addition, the only way to stop receiving calls is to send a letter to their headquarters, requesting to stop receiving offers (yes, a physical letter). Redesign of processes? What are you talking about?

In my work, I spend time talking and convincing clients about the importance of investing in design. In recent years, I have raised the intensity around the concept of Customer Experience and the design of services.

I try to elevate the word “design” and make it see that it covers aspects that go beyond a discipline focused on beautifying interfaces, to understand that this new and brilliant digital product is one more gear within a service that can be disastrous, such as what that bank is giving me.

To many I still manage to surprise them, precisely because we all hear these experiences. Even so, in the last months, as a result of so many events, talks, courses, meetups, and conferences it is already perceived with certain exhaustion, like that they have already heard it and it sounds like sirens chanting.

I am worried that we will start to suffer this – I call it – postdigital syndrome without having completely transformed, not even partially, seeing situations like the ones I have described and certainly you have lived too.

Some have so internalized the theory, that they believe that by adopting digital ways everything is done. Following this reasoning, to get fit the important thing is that one talks a lot about running.

And so, we find digital experts tired of being told about the digital transformation while still seeing the Baldwin-style customer funnel at Glengarry Glen Ross.

What a mess we have made! If the professionals knew what the transformation is, how is it possible to find tenders titled: “New customer area 100% Customer centric”, then on page 7 find the clause that tells me that functional decisions will be determined by API capabilities. Listen then, was it Customer Centric or API Centric?

We also have projects already located within an existing “digital transformation” process, whose renewal proposal must be delivered printed in hand in the client’s office in a sealed envelope. This is not a joke.

And what about that big bank that asks me to go to the branch to sign 5 pages of paper and get a simple change of card limits, or that the same bank last year sends me a letter to encourage me to use digital banking when I had been doing it regularly for a decade.

I guess they consider that Customer Experience is nothing more than the old “the customer is always right”. What is the difference? The main difference is that “The customer is always right” is not Customer Experience, but Customer Service; but also in its worst version, in reactive and antiquated servility: when the client complains, I attend to him, especially if he does it in the store and pretends to be a well-dressed man.

The proof that this style continues, is that today your complaints continue to be treated much better if you do it through social networks like Twitter (visible to others, like in a store), and your level of interest will be greater if you have more than 3000 followers.

To me, thinking quickly about it, I have been left unanswered by email many times: wine cellars that served me defective bottles, airlines that did not answer an email with doubts on the bill, etc.

On the other hand, a satisfactory customer experience is the result of proactive methods of service design, whose objective is to reduce friction in its provision. A fact that is achieved by designing them around the needs of people and also completely rethinking the processes with the new digital possibilities in mind.

Actually, the problem is not about not knowing what CX or UX is, the problem is not understanding how digital has changed our lives forever, the productive processes and of course, our consumption habits.

The Internet is not about marketing, but about redesigning processes. Of all the processes. From the very exploited payment method, to questioning if we want to continue serving our customers through a switchboard.

Whenever I detect people who have not understood, I recommend Genis Roca’s video about the digital society, now a classic. Normally they are usually people from outside the sector, but you always learn something after seeing it, even if you already dedicate yourself to “digitize”.

Realizing all this is not just “knowing” it, it’s like an epiphany that has happened to you or not. There are people who realized it 20 years ago, others 10, others 5, and there are people who have not understood it yet.

Let’s not dedicate more talks or more posts for this last group, let’s start giving space to brave organizations capable of ending expired processes. Either you have lived the epiphany or not, if you have not lived it, nothing happens, but please step down from that directors’ chair.

P.D .: If you have experienced any shocking, anachronistic or very “antidigital” experiences, I would love for you to write them in a comment.

I am head of Customer & User Experience at Paradigma Digital where I subtly try to manipulate everyone with the admirable goal of designing useful, engaging and profitable services. Over the years I've had a bit of experience in front-end and a lot in design (in the widest sense of the word) from small agencies to big media, where I was talkative, annoying and meticulous enough to end up defining and designing digital products.

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