Inclusive design is transforming the customer journey as digital accelerates and expectations skyrocket

Reynhardt Uys, Chief Experience Officer at Immersion Group

Embracing inclusive design is a pathway to innovation that organisations ignore at their peril says Reynhardt Uys, Chief Experience Officer, Immersion Group. “Before now, it was common for the industry to see accessibility and inclusion as a box to tick somewhere within the design or process, but as Covid-19 has accelerated the digital world, inclusive design has now moved up the list of priorities for many organisations. We’re still seeing a huge emphasis on USSD functionality for customers with feature phones or phones that don’t have an active internet connection. Whilst services are made available on other channels like an app or a website, the functionality also exists on USSD to create an omni-channel experience to different user types. Something as simple as changing the font size and the screen zoom functionality on devices is so impactful and effective to support users that may have problems with their eyesight and battle to either see larger or smaller text. Adaptive language is a major influencer for inclusive design – based on location as well as preferred language, you’re able to give users a tailored experience without having to build different products. It is absolutely crucial to shift the mindset of inclusive design to not designing one thing for all people, but rather design diverse ways to participate – this will then empower all users with a sense of belonging.”

Inclusive design has evolved from simply optimising a product or service for a specific user with specific needs, to creating a customer journey that considers all customers, and potential customers, of the business. “Whether it’s considering left-handed customers, people with disabilities, and individual preferences or aversions, understanding all your customers is critical to the development of any product or service, process and framework,” notes Uys.

Forward-thinking organisations are beginning to see the value of inclusive design not only as a means of improving their bottom line, but as a meaningful way to nurture positive brand sentiment, a happy customer culture, and brand loyalty. “We’re seeing a huge improvement in conversions of sale when we make even minor improvements or enhancements to the customer journey. A few examples of these solutions in action include text-to-voice, audio adjustments, colour changes, as well as multi-channel improvements to ensure that customers can reach businesses irrespective of the device they use or their level of digital literacy. User context and circumstance remains a crucial piece of the design and development journey,” adds Uys.

Head of Digital at the Immersion Group, Geoffrey Hardy says modern businesses cannot afford to rely on old customer data and outdated processes to deliver a superior customer experience through digital platforms. “Organisations that fail to implement an iterative and continuous user-based data model risk failing their customers. The world is moving fast, customers are faster. Customer demands are ever-changing, and expectations are at an all-time high.” Hardy adds that with customer experience now very much at the centre of the customer loyalty conversation, principles of inclusive design will play a central role in ensuring an entire customer base is considered. “Businesses are losing large swathes of customers when minor improvements or enhancements could very easily solve for many different customer challenges, increase their sphere of influence and, ultimately, their bottom line.”

While embarking on any new journey can be daunting, Hardy and Uys both agree that the smooth navigation of a carefully constructed roadmap, coupled with advice from industry specialists can offer organisations a return on investment right from the offset. “Seeking the help of experts in inclusive design will have your teams set up for success and mitigate the risks of potential failure, late-to-market execution and budget waste,” says Uys. Hardy recommends choosing a partner with a proven track record as experts in current best practice, years of in-the-work training together with real-world tried-and-tested methodologies to ensure any inclusive design project gets off the ground timeously and delivered at quality.

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