User experience (UX) has finally come into its own as a key factor shaping how companies do business. Companies are investing a huge amount of money on streamlining business processes, improving customer service processes, and providing personalized engagement and quick resolution to customer problems. UX plays a critical role in customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.
While customers always look for an end-to-end UX, sometimes this is not possible, for example if the product or service is not solely delivered by one organization. Even if it is delivered by a single organization, system complexity, complex business processes, or gaps between systems can make end-to-end UX impossible.
Technology has always been a potent agent of business change, however it has advanced at such a rapid pace in the last few years that it’s changed prevailing business models and even the technology industry itself. For example, Airbnb’s founders found that platform technology made it possible to craft an entirely new business model that challenged the traditional economics of the hotel business.
Recent technology trends such as blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), and platforms can play major roles in automation, UX, decentralized help, transaction processing, and support coordination among multiple organizations and interacting devices.
Blockchain is already driving transformation across the finance and the insurance industry, and it is being further extended to address business needs in multiparty transactions, such as:
- Increasing transparency and trust
- Reducing fraud
- Reducing cost and increasing efficiency
- Facilitating secure, decentralized transaction via IoT technologies
- Automating actions when predefined conditions are met
The IoT is a vast network of Internet-connected, data-sharing devices. The shared data is used to make smarter decisions. For example, connected devices can communicate directly with distributed ledgers. Data from those devices could then be used by smart contracts to update and validate the shared data and subsequently deliver it to all interested participants in the business network. This reduces the need for human monitoring and actions, and promotes trust in the data generated by the devices.
A real-world example
Let’s take a simple example from the automotive industry. Say a car has a manufacturing defect that ultimately results in a part being replaced. The typical communication chain could follow this pattern:
- The car owner brings the car to the dealer to diagnose a problem
- Car dealer inspects the car and notifies the manufacturer about the faulty part
- Manufacturer works with the part supplier to determine where the fault lies
- Part supplier and manufacturer agree that the part is faulty, then notify the dealer
- Car dealer notifies the customer
- Car owner brings the car back to the car dealer for part replacement
In this scenario, communication among the customer, car dealer, manufacturer, and part supplier is impeded by incomplete information, so full and accurate responses along the chain are impossible. Second, all communication must go through email, telephone, or postal mail, and the customer has to visit the car dealership multiple times to have the part replaced, possibly being unable to use the vehicle until the car is repaired. This is a very shabby customer experience.
Now let’s look at the customer experience when blockchain, IoT, and platform technology are combined. In the same scenario, the communication chain will be as follows:
- The IoT sensor automatically notifies the manufacturer, car dealer, and car owner about the defect
- Car dealer contacts the car owner and sets a service appointment for an inspection
- Car owner brings car to the dealer for inspection, which confirms the faulty part
- Information about the faulty part is put on blockchain, which notifies all the parties – manufacturer, insurer, part supplier, car dealer, and owner
- Manufacturer, dealer, and part supplier collaborate to analyze the car’s IoT sensors and dealer inspection report to identify where the fault lies
- Manufacturer agrees on blockchain about the part replacement, which automatically notifies all parties
- Car dealer replaces the part and delivers the car back to the owner
Impressively, all of this happens on the same day, during the original service appointment, and the customer is continually kept informed as the vehicle proceeds through the diagnosis and repair process. This is the UX expected by the customer.
As you can see, there is a tremendous potential for developing applications that use blockchain in IoT solutions. This combination can not only solve many of the key problems in today’s UX, but also enhance it by automating many customer service processes along the way.
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