20 October 2015

The human element of the digital experience

Tags:UX, Strategy, Innovation, Digital Transformation

In today’s digital landscape, people – on both sides of interactions – are perhaps more important than ever. One automobile company provides a prime example.

Electric carmaker Tesla, as a company, is trying to reinvent how the motoring industry works. The organisation has already fundamentally re-engineered how cars work, but it’s also re-engineered how you sell cars.

For a long time, the only way to buy a Tesla was to order it online. There were no dealerships, no stores – you couldn’t even go to see one. But people wanted them so badly that they would just order them off the net and have them delivered.

The all-digital dilemma

So this was a car company with a completely digital experience. But most people won’t do this. Most people want to see what a car looks like. They probably want to sit in it, and, understandably, they might want to take it for a test-drive. So more and more, Tesla has recognised this and is opening showrooms. Ultimately, when you want to buy a Tesla, you still configure it and purchase it online – and you still get free delivery – but now customers can go check them out in person.

What started out as a totally digital experience now has a human element. When you go to a showroom, you’re going to interact with a person.

Human acumen

And although Tesla’s digital experience is fantastic and the company is doing very well, if the human experience played out like a clichéd used-car-salesman encounter, everything the company has achieved could all fall down.

So even though the digital experience and digital transformation are very important, we can’t forget that people play a vital role in all of this.

People are expensive: employees cost a lot of money relative to computers. They’re also fallible and hard to quality control, but more and more, they’re reserved for the most important and most high-value elements of transactions.

The (human) moment of truth

Yes, you can basically buy a Tesla online, but for most people, when it comes down to the crunch, you’re going to test-drive it, and you’re going to experience an individual. And it’s that experience with that human that can be a moment of truth in your purchase.

So although the nature of person-to-person interactions is changing, those interactions are actually becoming more important – even though there are fewer of them.

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