There’s a lot of talks these days about blockchain technology, its role in cryptocurrencies and its potential for reshaping industries as diverse as lodging and agribusiness. But on a grander scale, what is just as exciting is how it will transform the entire realm of the customer experience (CX).
First off, what is blockchain technology?
The blockchain is a digital “ledger” maintained by a network of connected computers, allowing direct, peer-to-peer transactions without traditional intermediaries. A blockchain’s structure makes it a virtually impenetrable way to store and track data.
“Because of its structure, blockchain lends itself to entirely new levels of transparency between companies and customers, and that leads to the kind of trust that is paramount to customer experiences that count in creating value and loyalty,” says Bo Zou, a Toronto-based UX strategist, and designer.
Customer Experience is the aggregated feelings, desires wants and needs to be generated by exposure to a brand or product. It’s a function of both direct and indirect exposure and is equally driven by the conscious and subconscious. Customer experience design uses the quality and thoughtfulness of the user experience as the basis for creating products and services.
So what does one have to do with the other? Start by thinking of it as a foundation on top of which customer experiences can be built.
The first layer could be a digital ID, suggests Arie Hazekamp, a Capetown UX consultant. Instead of the available-to-anyone (including hackers) we have now, the Blockchain-based digital ID version would be trusted and verifiable, and entirely yours to control. “You decide whether you give your information freely or for some kind of reward or compensation,” Hazekamp writes.
Here’s one experience: Donating blood. Your digital ID contains your medical information, including your blood type and information as to whether you have been approved to donate blood. It makes the donation experience fast and easy. Maybe when the blood is used it triggers compensation that’s deposited in your e-wallet, fast and easy.
Bo Zou uses insurance and banking as other avenues where blockchain could make for a better customer experience. It could facilitate claims management, transparently and efficiently, and without an intermediary to slow things down. “In addition, blockchain’s role in speeding and automating claim settlements would have the dual benefits of a streamlined customer experience and a more efficient insurance organization,” he adds.
But Bo Zou sees blockchain’s potential to transform the banking system as hugely important from a CX perspective. It would be the basis for an entirely new ecosystem, he says, that would not only be faster and cheaper to operate, but also eliminate a big portion of bank overhead necessary for confirming authenticity.
“This transformation coupled with the ongoing expansion of digital mobility is going to be critical for making banking services accessible to a huge portion of the world’s population that is currently underserved,” Bo Zou says. “Even a basic banking account will make an enormous difference in raising the standard of living for the roughly 2 billion people who don’t have access now.”
The clincher will be the user experience. With more banking services available through digital devices, it will be essential to make it all understandable and easy to use and manage. “We have a way to go,” Bo Zou says. “But blockchain is emerging as a significant engine for change.”