After nearly two years of watching our world go online in ways we had never imagined before, a key question that emerges is how are people crafting for engaging experiences online?

Given that our attention is just one scroll away from disengagement and one click away from uninstall or a new window opening up, how do organizations design for engagement in the new world of digital-first customer experience?

Is it just a happy accident or is there is science behind it?

Behavioral science and data together offer some answers.

Imagine starting off a learning journey on an app. Learning, especially self-learning, is a hard journey. Yet, many apps start with how exhaustive their coverage is: how many courses, how many videos, etc. That might work well for entertainment. Imagine scrolling through an Over-the-Top Application (OTT app) and feeling a paradox of choice.

In learning, for many, this might overwhelm them instead of helping them choose the right learning journey. The impact: drop off.

Instead, imagine a small behavioral adjustment: of enabling small commitments at the beginning of the journey, by encouraging learners to set goals and helping them navigate the material. Utilizing Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3, (GPT-3) an AI-driven language model could go a long way in easing the journey. And data can play a role in recommending just the right courses.

Let’s take a very different example. Given that many businesses are now selling their products online, the entire experience of payment going through online is a key one.

There’s a concept called peak-end rule in behavioral science. Simply put, users do not remember each part of their customer journey but certain moments become peak moments and remain carved in memory. Now, a bad experience during payment could definitely classify as one. How might companies drive better outcomes and experience here?

There are many parts to this from the payment gateway that provides a choice of payment methods to the right optimization engine that provides transaction alerts and reduces failure rates. And they work together to ensure a good experience.

Here is another example: Health has been at the forefront of change in the last couple of years for many of us. A healthy lifestyle and healthy food have also become more important to many.

What if there was an online program to help you go through a customized health program? Maybe it’s a program for senior citizens to monitor their health parameters or for those with specific problems such as diabetes? The right program could help users manage disease and track the changes.

The intent-action gap comes in here as well; it’s a longer journey and the impact will happen only if users stick to the journey. The programs need to be designed to include multiple nudges and insights from data.

Social incentive is a powerful motivator for many. Being able to share some positive changes through the journey could be a meaningful reward in itself. Some also follow a challenge format where you challenge someone else and through that, both reach a goal. This works well for games. Whether it can also work for health is a key question.

Data could play a key role in every step of the journey, sharing how many people are at a similar step, encouraging people if they have consistently returned to the app/website and are on a habit streak, and more.

The idea of rewards becomes important in a digital customer experience. The obvious way to design rewards is to think of discounts or gamification. Designed well, these approaches have their critical place in designing rewarding journeys. Though sometimes the points in a gamification system mean less than what they could actually signify – actual purchases, discounts, a new level of expertise, a new benefit unlocked, etc.

There could be other, more intrinsic ways to bring in reward systems. In content-driven platforms, for example, engaged users who are contributing to the community are often recognized as Community Champions. In terms of behavioral science, this could create a virtuous cycle of positive deviance and a more peer-based and self-engaged community system could follow. Given that community is becoming a key pillar for many brands in their product and marketing efforts, this could be an important area to look at for customer experience design.

As always, good data can play a critical role in understanding levels of engagement and helping to create meaningful reward design systems.

Given that each of us has more than a few apps on our phone and websites we unfailingly visit regularly, every other product or service looking for a home online is fighting for bandwidth, on our phone, in our memory, and in our choices.

It’s a choice that can be made easier by an intelligent combination of behavioral science and data built into customer experience and service design.

Apart from co-founding Kahaniyah, a company that simplifies strategy with data storytelling, Debleena has worked for over 20 years in leadership roles in Finance, Strategy, and Education across several global firms.

Her business articles have been published in Economic Times, Economic Times Prime, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Your Story. She has also written plays that have been performed in Bengaluru. She is the author of two bestselling books, a crime novel called “A Marketplace for Murder” and non-fiction called “Sabu, the remarkable story of India’s first actor in Hollywood.” She is currently writing more books on finance, history, and crime.