Today’s battle is over owning the customer interface, says Inspiretec design chief

Today’s battle is over owning the customer interface, says Inspiretec design chief

Pictured: Simon Powell, chief executive of Inspiretech

Cardiff-based travel technology supplier Inspiretec held its first Open Day at the London Transport Museum last month. Lee Hayhurst reports.

The battle for the customer today has become about owning the interface, guests at Inspiretec’s first Open Day were told last month.

Inspiretec is the new umbrella brand launched by the travel technology systems developer formerly known as Comtec.

Today it encompasses a suite of technology products, including reservations platform Travelink, retail management and loyalty system harmony and customer intelligence CRM Holistic.

It also encompasses Sequence a user experience design specialist that Inspiretec bought last year. Its founder Richard Baker, said customer usability is the battleground where opportunities lie.

He said “full stack” companies like Tesla, Apple and Nest, which aim to control the entire customer experience can successfully maximise profits but can also be difficult to scale.

So the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Just East and Facebook have shown how owning very little in terms of physical assets but dominating the user experience can be the secret of success.

“Uber provides a service to find an average car to have a mundane journey, but it does it very well,” Baker said.

“We are in the age of the consumer, putting the consumer in control. The battle is for the customer interface.”

Baker said after a period of brands focusing on going direct in the 1990s price comparison came along in travel and injected a new customer interface between the consumer and the supplier.

He said the secret to providing an experience people will use again and again is not to obsess over the number of ‘clicks’ but to make sure that people don’t have to think before they click.

He said mobile can mean compromise so some content and functions that work on desktop may have to be disabled for smaller screens. And said it is vital to test every development.

Baker said: “Make a website feel like the start of something. Make it clear what you are about and make the navigation obvious.

“Sometimes it’s not all about the transaction. It’s purely about people looking to be inspired and educated about the possibilities.”

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