Over the years, thousands of organizations have used—and continue to use— the OutSystems platform to create customer and partner-facing applications that help them improve customer satisfaction and drive operational efficiency.
But a lot has been changing lately, including how your customers expect to interact with your company. More and more, customers are demanding that you meet them where they are and in the channels that are most convenient to them—and the number of these channels is expanding every year. They're in stores, trying to check their bank account balances to see if they can afford that big purchase. They're sitting in front of screens, ready to create a long-term retirement plan. They’re quickly getting in touch with a support agent while stuck in traffic.
The fact is, you can no longer get away with just “being” on a channel. If you don’t present customers with an amazing experience, they will move to another company or business, and today it takes them only a few clicks to do it.
Compounding the challenge of meeting their demands are the expectations being driven by the applications they interact with most. We’re talking about customer experience leaders like Uber or Amazon. And with Gartner data showing that CX will be the main competitive differentiator within the next two years, companies need to step up their CX games if they want to survive.
Removing the Challenges of Delivering Great Customer Experiences
Delivering an awesome experience that wins the hearts and minds of customers can seem like an insurmountable endeavor. In talking to hundreds of companies like yours, we’ve come to understand that pre-built, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software and SaaS stand in the way of keeping pace with fast-evolving consumer and user expectations and meeting their specific needs.
Yet to remain competitive and survive, you can’t wait years or even months to get a new application, service or product to market using traditional development. Even if you can find the skills to make this happen, the challenge of ensuring consistent experiences still stands in the way.
At OutSystems, we’re on a mission to level the customer experience playing field. Our goal is to empower any company to deliver brilliant omnichannel customer experiences that rival those of the leaders without needing the massive, highly-specialized and expensive development teams and budgets Amazon, Uber, and others boast. Let’s look at what we’ve done to make that happen.
Announcing New Capabilities for Delivering Brilliant Digital Customer Experiences
Today, we’re excited to announce a set of new capabilities that make it faster, easier and more cost-effective than ever before for companies like yours to deliver great experiences that delight customers and users on their channel of choice.
Now you can expand CX delivery to an increasing number of channels without having to hire new resources or without adding to your team’s workload. These capabilities enable you to use your team’s existing skills, and they actually reduce the amount of work they need to do, all while ensuring your applications feel and behave great. In short, when you use the platform to create digital experiences, you never have to compromise on quality to gain on speed. Plus, you get to use all the latest technology for engaging customers in new and innovative ways.
Introducing Experience Builder: Great Mobile Applications Made Even Easier
Currently, with OutSystems, any enterprise can bring great mobile applications to market. Using a simple drag-and-drop interface to assemble all the components of a mobile app— interfaces, client-side logic and offline capabilities, back-end integrations, and business logic—our customers have been incredibly successful (you can see the great examples of Zurich, ThinkMoney, and FWD Insurance).
Experience Builder provides a new “experience-first” approach that takes away the complexity of creating mobile experiences with a great look and feel and that “je-ne-sais-quoi” that you used to only find in the apps of a digital leader. As a result, you can focus on what really matters—creating an experience that gives your users exactly what they need, wherever they are. And, obviously, it ensures you can do it fast.
A simple-to-use, intuitive web interface, Experience Builder has what you need to develop user experiences with native behaviors quicker and with less effort, by using pre-built application templates, screens, and application flows.
In addition, we carefully crafted some frequent and familiar screens such as login, onboarding, and username recovery flows, created by scouring the industry for the best applications, enabling you to take advantage of best-practices easily.
There are no limits to what you can create or customize. Need a fully functioning prototype fast? Build a mobile app interface in a matter of minutes that you can test and iterate on with your stakeholders.
Need your application to start smoothly with splash screens? Patterns that have best-in-class animation sequences? Input fields that open the most convenient keyboard layout for the information your user will type? UX best practices woven in so well you don’t realize you’re applying them? Experience Builder handles all those things your users expect from native mobile applications but that typically require seasoned developers, keen-eyed UX experts, and big-time investments in upskilling your existing team. Want to create great applications for the web? That’s coming soon.
Early access to Experience Builder will be available to existing OutSystems customers in December. So if you want to be one of the first to start using it before it is available to the world, I invite you to sign-up here.
Reactive Web Applications: High-Performance, Reactive Interfaces Just Got Easier
High performing, highly reactive interfaces are not just a mobile thing. Web applications can have very complex and data-rich interfaces that need to disclose information progressively or react to data changes in real-time.
With our new, state-of-the-art reactive stack, you can easily assemble these interfaces for mobile and web with a single codebase. Take advantage of UI building blocks that reflect industry best practices and unleash new usability patterns that will make your UXers weep for joy. For the first time in history, there is a low-code platform that allows you to create pixel-perfect, highly interactive applications without hitting a limit and jumping into code anytime you want to provide a flashy interface or the UI patterns you fell in love with while using leading apps.
Reactive Web is now generally available and if you are an OutSystems customer, you can start taking advantage of it today. To learn more about Reactive Web and how to use it, read this blog post from our product manager Ricardo Alves, which covers this new capability in more detail.
Progressive Web Apps for Increased Customer Adoption and Retention
Many companies, including Lancome, Uber, and Pinterest, have seen tremendous benefits by implementing progressive web apps (PWAs), such as a 17% increase in conversions, 3-second load times on 2G networks, and a 44% increase in user-generated revenue. And, a recent Gartner report shows that 93% of companies will either have deployed or will have them in development by the end of 2020.
PWAs can increase engagement and remove friction in your customer journeys. With PWAs, customers can use your app if they have low bandwidth, a low-end device, or interact with your app infrequently and don’t want to download it. Also, PWAs can be discovered with SEO, which can help attract new customers. (If you want to learn more about PWAs and how they can help you improve customer engagement and increase adoption and retention, you can read our blog post on this topic.)
Therefore, we’re excited to announce PWA support in the OutSystems platform. Now, any company can easily use PWAs to deliver high-performing, native-like experiences that take advantage of device integration and work offline. And they can do it with the same code-base as their browser or native counterparts and without sacrificing experience quality. These applications are automatically packaged by the OutSystems platform—just like when you build a web or mobile application—through a simple toggle that indicates you want to deploy the application as a PWA. With this toggle, achieving 100% lighthouse compliance will be a commodity.
We’re making PWAs generally available in January 2020, which means all OutSystems customers will be able to deploy any Reactive Web Application as a PWA with just a few clicks.
Conversational Experiences Everywhere
Facebook Business data shows that 59% of people say that, compared to more traditional methods, connecting with businesses via messaging platforms results in faster responses, which contributes to greater satisfaction. Juniper Research estimates that chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion annually by 2022, up from $20 million in 2017.
To help you “meet your customers where they are”, cost effectively and easily, we have created OutSystems Chatbot and Voice and Personal Assistant components. Now you can scale your first line of communication with customers by being on the chat and voice platforms they use most.
Introducing the OutSystems Chatbot Component
In a 2018 global chatbot survey, 67% of respondents said that they have used a chatbot at least once. The same survey also found that 40% of millennials engage with chatbots every day. Yet, chatbots are hard to implement effectively and reliably. The process involves glueing together multiple disparate external services and internal data sources, which requires highly skilled and scarce AI developers.
The new OutSystems Chatbot component solves these problems by removing much of the complexity of chatbot development. An easy-to-use framework with pre-built components allows you to easily implement elegant, omnichannel conversational interfaces wherever you need them. Surface a bot in your mobile app or web portal. Create a presence on the most widely used chat platforms such as GroupMe, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack and others (or even the more traditional text/SMS). There are no limits.
With the OutSystems.AI Chatbot component, you can easily infuse your applications with a human like chatbot experience by leveraging Azure’s best-in-class Bot, Q&A, and Natural Language Services right in the OutSystems IDE. From the get go, the component allows you to create common interactions such as natural language, quick actions, menu-based interactions and Q&A patterns by simply dragging and dropping components. But what’s really great is that you can make these interactions feel more natural and smart by using Azure’s LUIS (Language Understanding Service) to understand a person’s real intent and respond with relevant reactions.
In order to gain insights from these chat and voice communications, you need to be able to analyze the language data. The OutSystems.AI Language Analysis component makes this easy so you can infuse your applications with smart capabilities like sentiment analysis, speech-to-text, and Key phrase highlighting. With this analysis you can automate decisions such as providing your contact center agents with past customer interactions, along with their sentiment and key phrases, to help them make the best decisions. Or you can automatically open a ticket or escalate bot conversations whenever you detect a negative sentiment.
The OutSystems.AI Chatbot component is available in the OutSystems Forge, and you can start taking advantage of it today.
Voice and Personal Assistants
If we had a blank slate and we were to start thinking about human interaction with machines, the first channel we would probably think of would be the most natural form of human communication: voice. It’s convenient, easy, and there’s nothing in the middle. No keyboard, mouse, pen, touching screens or buttons. You simply say what you want, and you say it from exactly where you’re standing.
For example, if you want to wire money from a mobile app, even with the best user experiences, 5-10 steps are involved, ranging from logging in to selecting the target account, destination bank, etc. Voice and personal assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa or Cortana turn these steps into a short statement like “Wire $5000 to my bank in the U.S.”
That’s why more companies are turning to voice technology to provide customers with instant responses, access to relevant information, and the completion of basic actions. But delivering voice and personal assistant experiences has challenges similar to those of chatbots.
With OutSystems you can expose your services to all major voice assistant platforms – Cortana, Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri. All conversational interactions implemented with the OutSystems.AI Chatbot component and Azure services are easily connected to Cortana for Windows devices and Alexa devices. Using the supported Dialogflow connector, customers can reach out to you using their Google Home or other Google Assistant devices - phones, headphones, cars, TVs.
Click here to learn all about how you can take on the challenge of allowing your customers to talk to you using Voice and Personal Assistants.
Beautiful, Elegant, Engaging Customer Experiences for All
Every company should be able to create world-class customer experiences that rival those of industry leaders. In fact, there should be no leaders and followers, just a level playing field where nothing holds you back from serving your customers better and better. That’s why we created these capabilities. We want it to be easier, faster and more efficient for you to deliver the digital customer experiences that not only meet customer expectations and needs, but also delight them in the process.
So, why not take advantage of the ones that are generally available today? Then, sign up for early access to for those coming later this year and in 2020.