What's the connection between digital transformation and customer experience?
In today’s phygital world, there are more avenues for a customer to interact with a brand than ever before. In response, the discipline of CX seeks to consider each of these touch points to ensure customer interactions are as frictionless and fluid as possible.
A well-executed digital transformation integrates seamlessly with all the other touch points to meet both the customer’s needs and the businesses objectives. It’s that simple.
It’s about meeting digitally conscious customers where they are. It’s about driving process efficiencies at both the front office and the back office to meet the demanding expectations of today’s customers. And, most of all, it is about leveraging technology to remain competitive in a world where consumers have more options, display less brand loyalty, and seek out superior experiences more than ever before.
Investing in digital transformation (DT) for a better customer experience (CX) pays dividends. These statistics from Forbes don’t lie:
Digital maturity is no longer a nice-to-have or an added bonus, it's a prerequisite to remaining competitive in the 2020’s and beyond.
What is Digital Transformation?
Unfortunately, like so much else in technology, digital transformation has become yet another buzzword. Its usage now spans a wide variety of interpretations, but for our purposes, we’ll definite it as:
Digital transformation is a strategic approach to leveraging technology to transform from a traditionally analog business model to a digital, omnichannel model.
Digital transformation isn’t a single initiative or even a handful of projects. It's a revolutionary change throughout the entire organization: from marketing to sales to product development to management—and everything in between.
Digital Transformation for a Better Customer Experience
To understand how we get from point A to point B, take a step back and look at CX.
Customer experience is the sum of all interactions a customer has with your brand—before, during, and after purchase. Optimal experiences show customers your company cares about them, understands their needs, and takes the necessary steps to deliver seamless experiences.
This goes beyond marketing campaigns, customer service departments, and even digital touch points such as social media and chatbots. It’s also word of mouth feedback. And how intuitive navigating your app or website is. It’s even how the back-office performance affects the quality of services or goods.
Start by asking yourself: where do I interact with my customers? How can I better serve them where they are?
It’s important that digital and physical experiences are not considered separately or handled by two separate teams. Your customers don’t differentiate between the expectations they have of your brand based on their physical or digital location, and consistency across platforms and spaces will increase the chances that they aren’t disappointed.
This means that the way that you engage with your customers must be both omnichannel, a seamless conversation across all touch points, and opti-channel, able to happen in that customer’s preferred method.
How Do You Offer a Great Customer Experience via Digital Transformation?
Let’s narrow in on five ways in which you can leverage digital transformation to provide superior customer experience.
1) Become Obsessed with Your Customers
In building Amazon into the digital juggernaut that we know today, Jeff Bezos has always emphasized customer obsession. “There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great,” said Bezos. “Even when they don’t know it yet, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.”
While this mantra should apply to every level of business thinking, when we look specifically at technology and digital transformation, we see the critical role that human-centered design (HCD) plays in creating a user experience (UX) that makes people want to use an application. Whether it’s for a customer-facing mobile app or a customized internal application, the solution needs to be intuitive, easy to learn, and, most of all, address a real need for the user.
2) Understand the Reason Behind Every Pain Point
Digital transformation begins with research and discovery, figuring out not only what pain points can be addressed with a digital solution, but also how to optimize that solution for silent utility. This means that the digital product solves a user’s problems without them even realizing it. The product experience should be effortless, and we must strive to reduce friction at every turn.
According to Sales Force research, not only do 76% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, but an equal percentage also say that it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere. The way around this is by creating experiences that consider and address the causes of pain points.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from customer attrition is to make sure you know where your customers are running into trouble and how the problems they are encountering is impacting their view of your brand. Mobiquity’s proprietary Friction Report can do just that. Reach out to us for more information!
3) Take an Organization-Wide Approach
Digital transformation is not creating a new website, a mobile app, or even a novel digital product like the world's first "smart pill". It may sound obvious, but transformation is transformative. A true transformation can result in organizational restructuring, breaking down internal silos, and rethinking operations across every level.
“CX shouldn't fall on the shoulders of your product team, or any one department for that matter. It requires participation, collaboration and, crucially, alignment from everyone in your organization.” - Britt Mills, VP of Digital CX
The entire organization must become more focused on creating unified, meaningful, and frictionless experiences for their customers. Digital transformation includes the entire organization and all of its internal and external touch points.
4) Don’t Forget the Human Touch
It’s easy to get lost in cyber space. Especially with customer-facing applications, we risk losing sight of the person on the other side of the equation. The software may only see data, but it’s critical that we continue to treat customers as human beings who deserve dignity and respect. Any processes that affect the customer experience, such as being able to easily escalate a customer service call to a live agent, must be optimized with a human centric approach.
John Watton, a Senior Director of Enterprise Marketing at Adobe, puts it best in a digital trends report. “Experience is seen as the differentiator for companies. Over the last few years, we’ve kind of over-rotated towards data and the need to understand insights to drive decisions,” he explains. “Those are now table stakes for organizations. What companies are realizing is that you still need that emotional connection, and that takes data-informed creativity.”
5) Create a Personalized Journey
Today’s customers expect digital platforms to offer tailored experiences, with 59% saying that a tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business, according to a Salesforce research report. One of the most valuable assets that an organization gains from digital transformation is a treasure trove of customer data and putting that data to use through analytics is essential to providing a personalized customer experience.
That doesn’t mean, however, that we should harvest and use customer data without discretion. That same report found that 57% of customers are uncomfortable with how companies use their personal data, with half of them feeling confused about how companies use their data in the first place. Nonetheless, 79% are willing to share relevant information about themselves in exchange for contextualized interactions in which they are immediately known and understood.
The takeaway is that we need to be 100% transparent about what data we collect and how we use that data and make sure we are providing a fair exchange of value for the information customer’s share.
The Digitally Conscious Customer
People interact with brands in very different ways today than they did even 10-years ago. Today’s digitally conscious customers research multiple options online before making a purchase, they care deeply about crowd-sourced reviews, and they are persuaded by social media influencers.
Customers use many different channels to interact with brands, and they expect to be able to pick up the conversation right where it left off when they switch from one to another.
Digital transformation in restaurants and foodservices is a prime example. Guests have come to expect personalized recommendations, the ability to place orders via app and earn loyalty points, and, especially since the start of the pandemic, they’ve come to expect contactless options like curbside pickup.
Digital tools reduce friction by offering improved convenience, better customization options, and the ability to avoid unwanted social interaction or physical contact.
Getting Started with Digital Transformation
Ready to begin your digital transformation journey? Like any odyssey, there will be challenges along the way, but with a bit of determination, forethought, and teamwork, we can emerge victorious. As you begin to plan your digital transformation, keep these 4 key points in mind.
1) Start by Defining Your Strategy
When digital transformation fails, it is usually because the initiative lacks strategy. There’s no substitute for market research, extensive discovery about the user’s pain points and expectations, and a clear direction for how you’re going to use technology to bolster specific key performance indicators (KPIs).
Ultimately, this amounts to what we call the North Star. To continue our odyssey analogy, don’t risk getting lost at sea by launching the boat before you are oriented and ready to navigate.
2) Create an Agile, Flexible IT Environment
You’re going to need rock-solid support from the IT department, both during the transformation and going forward, so now is the time to embrace modern best-practices like Agile and DevOps, as well as the enabling technologies such as cloud computing.
Moving IT infrastructure to the cloud has many benefits, including scalability, speed, and cost efficiency, but the main draw is flexibility. As Joe Weinman, author of Cloudonomics, put it, “The real value of cloud or hybrid cloud architecture comes in the form of agility, decreased time to market, accelerated innovation, better and richer user experiences, and inherently cloud-native or cloud-centric business models.”
3) From Omni to Opti – Enhancing the Seamless Omnichannel Experience
Providing a omnichannel experience is the baseline for success in today’s phygical world and this entails delivering a customer experience across multiple channels that is consistent. While customers should be able to seamlessly move between in-store, mobile, and online communications, to keep up with what customers expect, you can’t stop there.
Your strategy needs to deliver what your users want, where they want it. This represents a shift in customer experience thinking to what is called optichannel, meaning that the user's experience is personalized to move them through their preferred channels as easily as possible.
For instance, a customer may begin their journey in the morning on their phone, do some more research on their computer during a lunch break, and then stop by the store on their way home in the evening. When they walk into that store, their customer journey should pick up right where they left off, helping them navigate through what they need the platforms that they most prefer.
4) Personalize the Customer Experience
Invest in a strong analytics capability as part of your digital transformation to remain competitive in a market that is dominated by hyper-personalized offerings. This goes well beyond addressing a customer by name in your marketing messaging.
Recommend new goods or services based on previous purchases. Offer special promotions on items that complement products that the customer already enjoys. Look for opportunities to find the right time and place to send your message to maximize your chances of a conversion.
Personalization is a topic that deserves its own article, but for now just understand that it is a critical component of any full-fledged digital transformation.
Digital transformation has the potential to grow revenue, boost profits, and streamline internal operations.
The hard truth, however, is that a large majority of digital transformations fail. That is why it is so important for you to work with a trusted partner. Do not settle for less than a team of experts with proven experience helping other top brands undergo successful digital transformation in customer experience.
Mobiquity is that partner. Contact us to learn more!
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