It’s not difficult to see why companies focus their journey science efforts on millennials, the biggest, most digitally-oriented generation and one rich in emergent spending and investing potential. Millennials’ well-documented propensity to self-serve through digital channels makes them an appealing target of efforts to improve digital experiences.
But I think we’re missing something. If we widen the view, journey science can tell us a lot about Gen X and Baby Boomers, two generations whose immediate financial value is immense and who will be a factor on balance sheets for decades to come.
Companies have been rolling out digital features over time, starting with simple things like paperless billing or web payments, and then adding increasingly complex processes such as opening an account. While taking this measured approach, marketing from banks, for example, has heavily skewed toward demonstrating new and easy mobile or web functionality. Wealth management and retirement fund commercials are redolent with salt-and-pepper and handshakes, but retail bank ads focus on high-energy vacations and mobile app functionality.
That’s potentially off-putting to non-millennials who have not bought into the primacy of the digital experience. Even if they are digitally savvy, it may simply not be the thing that motivates them. It’s become almost acceptable to say that older generations have a bias or even preference toward interacting via phone and brick-and-mortar channels. The reality is that there is a digital experience that will suit them and we can use journey science to build it.
For example, within 24 hours of using the web channel to make a payment, about 5% of users will call to check on their payment. What we find is that for older customers, there is insufficient feedback on the website and some customers are not confident that their payment went through. And the customer is not the problem with this journey; the real problem is the failure to recognize the shortcomings of the web experience. A modest change to the web experience to immediately reflect a credit to their credit card balance provided a marked boost in confidence and a reduction in follow up calls.
Journey science makes it possible to identify opportunities to add functionality to the web that will keep customers engaged with the digital experience. The truth is, once people are in a digital domain, they want to finish the task at hand. The difference is that while a millennial will continue to pound away at the digital channel and return the next time even if frustrated in one journey, older generations are more likely to write off the digital channel.
Understanding the journey that customers are taking should be an important consideration for the design of websites and apps if businesses want to bring Gen Xers and Baby Boomers along for the digital experience. Some of our banking clients have started focusing on contextual placement of functionality. For example, we can identify behaviors that tend to occur together on the mobile app, like disputing a charge and requesting a replacement card. Some banks have created a pop-up that automatically asks customers if they want to request a replacement card once they dispute a charge, making the next step easy for customers. This type of contextual targeting makes for a more seamless digital experience, and may increase stickiness among GenX and Boomers.
The Gen Xer or Baby Boomer who takes the time to look at websites or mobile apps has already demonstrated a willingness to give the digital channel a chance. The burden should not be on them to navigate the experience, but on those building the experience to demonstrate an understanding of the journey these customers expect, pave the way for them, and then use journey science to evaluate the impact of changes to further improve their experience.
Evaluating journeys is an opportunity to improve digital functionality for all customers. Any small change that can make it easier for people to find certain functionality on the web or mobile is going to improve retention of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.