What the UK General Election Teaches us About Digital Customer Experience

Yesterday I voted in my first UK General Election since I became a British citizen. It was a dramatic election, with many senior political figures losing their seats in Parliament and/or resigning from leadership of their parties. For someone whose professional focus is on Digital Customer Experience, the act of voting was an interesting event.

I walked to my polling station, the local war memorial hall, and there were two lovely old ladies behind a folding table. One of them scrutinized my polling card, asked me my address (which was printed on the polling card), and then they called out a few numbers back and forth to each other, while filling in some paperwork, before handing me my ballot papers. I took them to a very temporary-looking piece of furniture, which looked like it might have dated back to Margaret Thatcher’s day, and, partially screened, made a “X” in the appropriate boxes using a stubby pencil attached to a bit of string. I then folded the ballot and slipped it into a big tamper-resistant plastic tub.

It was a good feeling to vote, and to know that across the UK millions of my fellow citizens were doing the same thing. One thing that stood out about it, however was the low-tech nature of it -– the stubby pencils, manual lists, folded bits of paper and plastic tubs. It occurred to me how unusual it has become to have a significant transaction which is wholly non-digital. The other thing I realised is that, for me, it somehow made the whole experience more special.

So, how do I reconcile this with my normal role as a digital evangelist? The answer is this -– digital for its own sake is pointless.

When formulating a digital customer experience strategy, organisations need to start with the “customer experience” rather than the “digital,” which is ultimately a means to an end. A deep understanding of customer behaviours, combined with a data-driven approach, enables organisations to make intelligent decisions about where to invest in new digital technologies to drive the maximum benefit.

From my perspective, the government no doubt invested heavily in IT behind the scenes in order to deliver the enjoyably low-tech experience I had on the day. Or perhaps I’’m just an electoral Luddite? I’’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

Do you think the voting experience could have been enhanced with technology? Has your business consciously kept some aspects of the customer experience conspicuously low-tech, while investing in technology in other areas?

Will Cook

Will Cook is VP, Digital Experience, EMEA, and is responsible for providing expertise in multichannel customer engagement and digital customer experience. Will works with leading companies to help them better understand customer interactions across multiple channels, and, by applying OpenText CEM technology, deliver compelling, personalised and targeted customer experiences that deliver the right business outcomes and measurable ROI. Will joined OpenText via acquisition from (a similar role at) HP. Prior to HP, Will worked for Amazon’s Merchant Services division. Will led a team driving recruitment of key retailers to Amazon’s 3rd party retail channel (“Amazon Marketplace”), adoption of Amazon’s outsourced logistics services, and launched Amazon Webstore, Amazon’s SaaS-based, white-label ecommerce platform.

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