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COVID-19: A gateway for user experience

Mikael Lijtenstein, CEO of Astropay, examines the changes we have to make as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and whether or not they're here to stay.

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Mikael Lijtenstein, CEO of Astropay, examines the changes we have to make as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and whether or not they're here to stay.

Human behaviour has been affected in different ways by COVID-19. The pandemic is causing modifications in our customs and uses, even the most natural ones. This phenomenon that represents a global health crisis has ushered in a new normal. According to Cambridge dictionary normal refers to “ordinary or usual; as would be expected”, but, can we expect things to be the same? Experts believe the need to align human behavior with the recommendations of epidemiologists will write a new chapter on social and cultural influences. The way we interact, the compulsory use of facial masks and the two-metre distance we have to keep are some of the habits that have to be modified until a vaccine is available. But even in this time of uncertainty and unsettled issues, opportunities are available for those who are encouraged to look for them. 

One of the main changes we can observe in everyday life is the shift to digital. Many of the activities we used to perform in person now happen through our computers, mobiles or tablets: working, meetings, gatherings, doctor appointments, therapies and of course shopping. Therefore, cashless has taken centre stage like never before and it opens a world of options to be developed. Being asked to stay home, people all over the globe have had to find ways to pay without using cash, turning to tap-and-pay transactions. 

Now that many shops have been re-opened and people have started purchasing in person, they prefer to use contactless payment methods because they got used to it, and also to avoid handling cash for sanitary reasons. Experts had predicted an increase on cashless culture, but the pandemic has accelerated its adoption and the shift may outstay the virus. According to some international surveys, small shop owners have stated that cashless is more hygienic and easier to account, and many reluctant users have turned to it and discovered a new array of possibilities. 

A good user experience is one that meets a particular user’s needs in the specific context where he or she uses the product. Knowing the specificities of the market where you’re offering your product and service and keeping a user-centered vision throughout the whole process are key to develop user engagement and word-of-mouth.

 

Changing to a cashless culture requires the payment procedure to be as simple as possible, as well as turning it into a natural experience. Making things natural implies focusing on the user experience. Don Norman, who coined the term, said: “No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” 

A good user experience is one that meets a particular user’s needs in the specific context where he or she uses the product. Knowing the specificities of the market where you’re offering your product and service and keeping a user-centered vision throughout the whole process are key to develop user engagement and word-of-mouth.  

To create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users involves the design of the entire process of acquiring the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function. A key factor to improve it is to think like the customer and to bear in mind that the experience occurs at any moment the user is in contact with the payment procedure itself, customer support or any other interactions with the company. This experience should be as frictionless, fast and reliable as possible. Even the most insignificant point where the user is in contact with the product has to be considered and evaluated. 

Getting feedback from users is paramount to build a close relationship with them. A/B testing is a recommended tool to test communications sent to users in order to know if they are understood and if they generate the aimed interaction. However simple or complex the solution may be, users should be listened to, considered and understood. Also, the information you can gather on a specific target will help you make informed decisions on whether to continue offering a certain product, feature or service. 

In this ever-changing situation in which we are living, communication is a key point to interact with users and to deliver straight messages. This is a good time to redefine the relationship with customers, build a strong link, and generate brand awareness and engagement services that have the user at the center. 

We are facing times of change and uncertainty where flexibility, adaptability, listening to each other, empathy and good communication skills will be fundamental to survive in the broadest sense of the word.  

 

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