If there’s something that really annoys me, it’s wasting time. A little while ago I had to sort out my temporary residence permit at the administrative unit. I’ve been living at the same address for more than a year, which means I only had to extend the permit, but I missed the deadline and so I had to submit the entire application all over again – as if I were applying for the permit for the first time.
I arrived at the administrative unit with only the annex to my rental agreement in my pocket. I didn’t bring the entire agreement with me because I thought they already had an electronic copy from last year. The clerk coldly sent me home to get all the documentation, saying that the original rental agreement had already been “archived” and she wasn’t able to access it. She quacked this in such a melancholy tone that I began to worry that their archives were at the North Pole rather than merely a stone’s throw away from her desk. I’m not entirely sure what her real motive was: trying to teach me a lesson that I shouldn’t miss deadlines? Or maybe it was just because of the technological malnutrition of the public sector, which makes them incapable of digitizing things. In any case, having to run home and back, chase down the administrative unit’s office hours,* and work with physical documents that had recently already been saved in electronic form seemed an absolute waste of time to me; especially if you consider this was 2016 we’re talking about.I would like the world to become more convenient for me: I appreciate brands that save me time. Click To Tweet
After experiencing that, I feel that the Slovenian public administration system is several light years away from the next industrial revolution. Considering that I (intentionally) submit my personal information everywhere I go, my expectations towards the world have changed. I feel like I’ve already contributed enough information in the past and if someone on the other side doesn’t know how to use it to improve my user experience, this annoys me even more.
In his book The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Klaus Schwab discusses four main impacts on consumerism:
- User expectations are changing, whereby self-service solutions have been on the rise recently—for example, the self-service kiosks at McDonald’s, where users can order and pay for their food, which reduces waiting times and speeds up the process;
- Products and services are improved with data, which improves their productivity—for example, Bellabeat, a Croatian-Slovenian brand of high-tech products for prenatal and neonatal care that pregnant women and new mothers can use on their own at home;
- Businesses are forming new types of partnerships and cooperation—like the one announced two years ago by SAP and Huawei (primarily with the purpose of improving research on the Internet of Things and providing new solutions);
- Business models are turning into digital models.
How do you strengthen your customer relationships?
User expectations are changing into experience and brands that think smart strengthen relationships with their customers by offering them the right solution at the right time, with minimal effort on the customer’s part, of course.
Over the past years, certain citizen and government initiatives have been established in Slovenia — most recently and notably at the conference Slovenia 2030: Directions of Technological Progress, Directions of Social Change — to promote the digitalization of public administration, and public administration itself has also taken a few steps forward, for example with the eRecept (ePrescription) system and the e-VEM access points for business registration and taxation. Nonetheless, the Slovenian public administration system still seems to torture ordinary citizens all too often: it does not focus on truly making it easier for them to exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations. Estonia has proven that the government’s embrace can be a comfortable haven for citizens. This country is a global leader in public administration digitalization and serves as a model for other countries (it is even being copied by the Japanese). The e-Estonia project makes it easier for people to fulfill their civic obligations, such as voting, paying taxes, or signing legally binding contracts.
In an ideal situation, after my temporary residence permit expired, I could have been automatically reminded to complete my application and extend my residence permit or apply for a change of residence. OK, so the public administration clearly doesn’t care about me, even though research shows that an online service would have cost it 50 times less than the offline alternatives. But I believe that the brands for which I also spend euros and not just my personal data and time do care. So why does Mercator send me information on special deals I have no interest in if, based on the buying habits recorded on my Mercator Pika loyalty card and my consent for the chain store to use my personal data and data on my past purchases to study customer buying habits, it could instead notify me of discounts on my favorite products? Or even better: when it detected that I haven’t bought toilet paper for a very long time, it could toss it into my online basket and I could order it with a single click and have it delivered to my doorstep from the nearest Mercator shop within the next few hours. For example, Amazon is taking a similar course with its Wi-Fi connected dash buttons installed in people’s homes, with which users can reorder a product with a simple click on the button. By the way, Mercator claims that it’s trying to adapt to my buying experience, but unfortunately I don’t seem to notice that as a consumer.If the customer doesn’t notice your personalization efforts, you’re doing something wrong. Click To Tweet
So, the digital revolution revolves around data, or more specifically, access to and smart use of data. In turn, user experience is made more meaningful based on constant adaptation and improvement.
In the future I would like the world to become more convenient for me and so I appreciate those brands that make an effort, make my user experience easier, and save time. I believe this will be more favorable and lucrative for them than trying to win new customers.
*Before you shake your finger at me, I do know that you can also apply for temporary residence though the e-administration portal, but that delays the permit issue for another day or two.