The UX Edge: Why User Experience Is Key For Consumers, Students & More

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By Russ Banham


Today, user experience (UX) is widely considered an important business success metric. Fail to provide customers with easy, engaging and reliable human-computer interactions and they might form negative perceptions about the company’s brand, products and services.

Conversely, if user experiences are fast, fun and fulfilling, positive customer word-of-mouth could follow, enhancing brand loyalty and business success. This is why entities as diverse as the University of California (UC) public university system and giant global insurer Chubb are replacing burdensome manual interactions with nearly effortless digital ones—and why they’re increasingly focused on securing and ensuring the availability of those digital experiences.

Both UC and Chubb report that hundreds of thousands of users electronically engage with them on a daily basis. And according to Tom Andriola, vice chancellor of information technology at UC, these are “individuals who have become accustomed to high-quality computer interactions.”

“Tech companies like Apple, Amazon and Google changed how consumers interact with organizations through technology and have set the de factostandard for user experiences to which all organizations must subscribe,” Andriola said.

Owning the Journey

Student expectations are a big driver of UC’s investments in UX, shared Andriola. “These people are digital natives. When they come on campus, we have to design for their world.”

Requiring a student to show up to an early-morning lecture after studying all night, for instance, isn’t always productive, he suggested. “To a digital native, this makes no sense. Why should this student get little sleep and skip breakfast to attend a noninteractive lecture, when they can access a recording of it at a more reasonable hour?”

By embracing modern technology, universities can better serve students. Numerous schools, including UC, provide master’s degrees to students who receive purely online instruction, for example, but some institutions still have work to do. “College is about learning topics and becoming an independent individual, but universities generally have stuck to antiquated paradigms of student interactions,” Andriola explained. This is now changing.

To that end, UC is now using predictive data analytics to better understand student needs and customize the learning process based on this knowledge.

This shift from an analog to a digital experience isn’t just easier, but it also offers universities an opportunity to optimize students’ learning potential. “Through the use of data analytics, we can see if the student keeps reading the same passages over and over again in the online material,” Andriola said. “This data can be correlated with the student’s grades in that course, proficiency in reading English and the professor’s teaching style. Based on the analytics, interventions can be made. For instance, the professor can provide more of an interactive learning experience to the student, instead of a straight lecture.”

While this digital experience invites challenges like cybersecurity and consumer privacy issues, both manageable, it nonetheless affirms the increasing importance of UX in generating positive user perceptions about the organization. 

Customizing The Claims Experience

In an industry that’s traditionally rife with pain points—from extensive manual documentation to endless phone calls during the claims process—insurance provider Chubb is also working to replace manual experiences with more seamless digital interactions.

“Insurance is all about the fulfillment of a promise to pay. When this experience is subpar, it can negatively affect the value of our brand,” said Sean Ringsted, Chubb’s chief digital officer.

Today, the insurer’s policyholders digitally report a claim. If the person’s car or home is damaged, the owner can use the insurer’s app to photograph the damage and upload it to a claim adjuster. The extent of damage determines the number of questions asked, vastly reducing yesteryear’s mountain of paperwork and “simplifying the user experience.” 

Chubb also has improved UX for those interested in buying personal lines and commercial lines insurance policies online. Consider a brick-and-mortar retailer looking to purchase property and liability insurance. To underwrite related risk exposures, insurers typically dispatch an underwriter to determine building age and condition, explained Ringsted. “This information is generally available through online sources today, streamlining the underwriting process for us and the prospective customer.”

Chubb’s commitment to digitizing and personalizing UX also extends to its high net worth policyholders. The company offers one-click access to their insurance documents, including information on each policy’s coverages, premium payment summaries and claims status, shared Ringsted.

The company also recently launched a strategy to digitize its risk consulting reports and other client advisories—to guide organizations in managing the costs of a business disruption due to a wildfire or hurricane, shared Ringsted. “Our plan is to create a smartphone app that would provide easy access to this information.”

Whether you’re an educational provider or a Fortune 500 company, secure digital transformation is key to providing customers with an effortless, engaging and positive user experience.

Russ Banham is a Pulitzer-nominated financial journalist and bestselling author.

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