Earlier this year, 7Summits presented a panel discussion about the role that UX design plays in digital communities and the benefits they bring to users who engage with your company. To illustrate these benefits, our panelists developed the Digital Collaboration Maturity Model, a tool that measures the extent to which digital experiences facilitate interactions between users and organizations.
The model illustrates a five-tiered progression that defines the types of collaboration that can occur between your customers, partners, employees and company: Inactive, One-Directional, Bi-Directional, Peer-to-Peer and Transformational. What’s more, the various stages enable businesses to start unlocking and implementing the characteristics of Intelligent Experiences that give users smarter, faster and more personalized journeys.
Enabling these Intelligent Experiences for your customers, partners and employees has become a modern business imperative, and moving up the model is an easy way to measure that growth and maximize business value. There’s no “right” place to be on the progression; you can implement different characteristics of Intelligent Experiences throughout the various tiers. But it’s easy to see that climbing the Digital Collaboration Maturity Model allows you to leverage more and more of these capabilities to engage users and deliver a transformational experience.
Most traditional websites reside in the inactive stage. The primary focus here is on content presentation, but without the elements of personalization that come as you go higher up the model. It serves as a great entry point into the community and digital experience space, even if little to no collaboration is actually occurring here. The characteristics of Intelligent Experiences are not yet present, but the foundation to implement them is set. It’s essential to have a place to surface and share relevant content that is organized before any of the other tiers can be reached.
One-directional interactions are more like simple communication, but this is the first real step toward enabling the personalization and collaboration present in the higher tiers. In this stage, users are simply being shown content and resources from your organization. Content can be targeted at specific audiences, and these persona-tailored resources start to surface the relevance that is necessary for Intelligent Experiences.
Even if the entire experience is not yet hyper-relevant at this stage, this step in the maturity model begins to include Intelligent capabilities. When users log in to their account, they are shown their personalized info, tasks and relevant resources. The community is able to contain sections like “My Dashboards” and “My Profile” where they can manage fields that are unique to them. Recommendations with simple, actionable steps are transformed into advocacy that benefits your organization, marking another step toward a truly Intelligent Experience. Onboarding tools, while still one-directional, collect insights into what your users want, which are subsequently turned into possible actions that your company should take to enhance their users’ experience. These capabilities are not as advanced as those in solutions that are higher up the model, but basic elements of an Intelligent Experience begin to emerge when you enable one-directional collaboration.
Where one-directional collaboration simply involves your company pushing resources to users, bi-directional collaboration presents opportunities for conversations to start happening. These are still mostly private, but the option for engagement between businesses and users is present. In this stage, it is possible to start transforming manual processes into automatic ones–another crucial characteristic of Intelligent Experiences.
Features like the automatic submission and sorting of support cases are enabled in this tier. Even basic AI capabilities such as chatbots can be used as part of bi-directional collaboration, with users submitting questions that are answered by these tools in a virtual conversation with your company. These interactions between businesses and users, while not visible to everyone, strengthen the recommendation and personalization characteristics that began to emerge in one-directional communities. Tailoring experiences to individuals helps them find relevant resources more easily, which leaves them with a positive brand experience.
Self-service functionality becomes easier in this stage. This ease of use for customers then frees up your employees from having to waste time on simple inquiries. Additionally, the machine learning that is possible means that you can start predicting the best resources to surface for similar personas, driving more valuable, relevant outcomes on future searches.
The peer-to-peer stage of digital collaboration takes place in your digital community and is where your company is truly able to own the conversations taking place about your brand. Where the bi-directional features involved private interactions between a user and your business, peer-to-peer functionality lets your customers, partners and employees engage directly with one another.
Discussions about your products, company and industry now take place on a platform that you own. When you position your solution in this tier, the features of Intelligent Experiences become incredibly apparent. First, the insights that you are able to gain about users’ behaviors, patterns and needs are magnified. This enables companies to seamlessly turn them into the exact actions that your customers, partners and employees are discussing. Automatic capabilities like chat bots are again able to leverage machine learning to discover even more about community members when all of their interactions take place directly on your platform. When you analyze user behaviors more frequently, you’ll be able to more accurately predict the business outcomes that will surface as a result. Finally, features like audience targeting, chatter feeds and unique page variations create a vibrant, focused and hyper-relevant community for individual users. Peer-to-peer communities may not represent fully Intelligent Experiences, but most of the characteristics are prevalent in this stage of the maturity model.
At the pinnacle of the Digital Collaboration Maturity Model is the transformational stage. Here, business processes are integrated seamlessly within your digital community experience, leading to a truly revolutionary journey for your users and your business. It is also in this stage that the full breadth of Intelligent Experience capabilities are able to be leveraged. Data is constantly collected through your users’ regular interactions with each other and your organization, helping build hyper-relevant journeys and powering insights that strengthen relationships with customers, partners and employees.
Personalization becomes embedded everywhere in your community. Knowledge articles, blogs, events and other interactive resources are all specifically tailored based on individual tendencies and behaviors. When these interactions reach hyper-relevance, the data that your organization collects is even more valuable for future enhancements. Forums, discussion boards and chatter enhance the collaboration of the peer-to-peer stage, giving you the insights and predictions that result in insights and concrete business outcomes. You can identify answers to questions like what knowledge gaps exist, and how users tend to self-resolve issues. Manual processes that once occurred separately in your community and system of record are now automatically integrated in your digital solution. All of the characteristics of Intelligent Experiences are not only present, they are working together in a streamlined process. When your community reaches the transformational stage of the Digital Collaboration Maturity Model, you will delight users and unlock business value with a smarter, faster and more innovative experience.
Progressing to the peak of the maturity model is no small feat. For some companies, targeting the Transformational stage is not feasible, and their community will be better served by maximizing capabilities in the middle tiers. Because Intelligent Experience characteristics can be implemented in the Peer-to-Peer, Bi-Directional and even One-Directional steps, it is more important to simply begin the journey than to try and reach the top right away. By taking action to get your solution on the Digital Collaboration Maturity Model, you’re showing a commitment to your users to build a better experience.
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