I’m the User…. I’ll Improvise…*

How handing the keys to your digital platform over to your users can help scale your business

TRON: Legacy is one of my favourite sci-fi style movies, not least because (spoiler alert) the user (Sam Flynn) wins against the programs, in the end, and because I secretly want one of those killer neon motorbikes. Yes, I know the concept of living in an entirely digital world isn’t new but this movie serves as a helpful reminder that if you think your sophisticated new digital services platform experience is user-proof, think again. User experience testing, analytics and feedback should be prioritised at every stage of a digital platform build, not ignored or just bolted on at the end.

Your users will always find a way – either with you, your competitors or just by doing things the way they’ve always done them. Here are three reasons why sometimes it’s helpful to allow your users to drive and just see where they take you:

  1. Your platform cannot solve all real-world user problems

Even Uber can’t solve all travel-related issues - for example, it is currently impossible for me to choose my own Uber motorbike driver. That’s annoying. Especially when I’m standing outside my hotel in Jakarta with patchy Wi-Fi watching several Uber jackets flying past, knowing a taxi will take forever in the morning peak traffic. In comparison, Uber competitor Grab now offers nearly a dozen different consumer services. In Singapore this includes GrabNow, a service that allows a rider to hail a cab off the street and in the moment connect their app with the driver to book their ride. Magic. Is it so surprising then that from April 8th this year Uber is withdrawing from South Asia in a strategic move that gives Uber 27.5% of Grab? (Source: Recode, Mar 25, 2018)

Prioritising the appropriate journeys that are relevant to the problem you are solving for will be critical because your business simply can’t do everything. But it is important to also remain open to the different ways users will want to adopt and move through your platform. Follow them... take the time to see where they go and adapt quickly if you need to.

  1. Your users will be more diverse than you can imagine

In the early 2000’s, BMW launched a new Mini in Australia with a slick advertising campaign targeting hip, young things in their mid-20’s. Imagine the Marketing Director’s surprise when she received the first three months of Mini sales data showing that, in fact, the biggest cohort of buyers were wealthy, middle-aged men.

She called me, panicking. “Should we change the entire campaign creative?”, she asked me, “…to better target rich men in their mid-50’s?”. “No,” I responded, “…definitely not. There’s a reason why they’re buying these cars and we need to know why. Let’s keep the creative but update the media plan so more of this unexpected buying group can see your ads.” The campaign was, fortunately, a success.

Like the Mini Marketing Director, accepting that there may be people who love and adopt your digital service in ways you never imagined can be great for business. Be ready to embrace them, in all of their diversity, as they may be the very group that scales your business for you.

  1. Your users expect best practice

Thanks to the elegant, seamless customer experience of everyday online services like Facebook and Google, end-users are increasingly CX savvy - and demanding. They will leave you and your platform in a heartbeat if you provide them with a clunky or weird experience. For example, requiring too many clicks to get the job done, taking them on an unfamiliar or circular journey or demanding an identity proving process that crosses a ‘creepy’ line for the user. You know the ones I’m talking about – where you are asked for sensitive personal information that seems excessive for the task you’re trying to complete. Adopt it or abandon it, users are not cheap to gain, or retain. They know what job they want to get done and if you put complex processes in their way it will frustrate them.

In my role at ForgeRock, I feel privileged to be invited to spend time on-site with a number of digital banking teams at leading financial institutions across the APAC region. Many of these teams are driving the digital transformation of their consumer-facing banking services. While the number of staff, existing and potential customers and the project methodology applied certainly varies between organisations, I see some of the same challenges emerging. This includes managing the natural tension that inevitably arises between the desire for a simple user experience and the processes required to deliver complex, financial industry regulatory compliance and reduce company risk. For the program leads, the real skill lies in managing that delicate balancing act between satisfying compliance requirements while delivering the best practice online experience that so many users now expect. My experience to date suggests that success comes to those who are prepared to both protect and listen to their users.

In summary - your users will always find a way; be prepared to improvise. Build your platform with the right guardrails to meet the industry regulations then give the keys to your users and see where they take you.

If you’re interested in joining the debate on Customer Identity Access Management (CIAM) over some pizza & beer, sign yourself up for the next round of free Digital Identity Tech Talks running in the following cities -  Hong Kong, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Singapore. Register via Meetup - https://www.meetup.com/pro/identity-tech-talks/

For more information on how some of our customers use ForgeRock services to better engage their users, check out ‘Put them in charge and they’ll put their trust in you’,  https://www.forgerock.com/de/privacy .

*Sam Flynn, TRON: Legacy (Disney, 2010).