Why you need to take a customer-centric view of digital transformation

Published on: November 23, 2016
Author: Pauline Ashenden - Marketing Manager

Whatever sector they are in businesses are embracing digital transformation, implementing new technologies and ways of working in a bid to differentiate against increasing competition and to get ahead of rivals.

However, too often these digital projects can fail to improve the customer experience – and in some cases actually make it more difficult for consumers to do business with an organization. Why is this? Augie Ray of Gartner believes it comes down to three factors:
 

1. Digital first projects tend to be run by a digital team, separate from other parts of the business. This means they may not understand the complex, interconnected journey that customers undergo and therefore implement technology that doesn’t meet fit in with how consumers want to interact.

2. Customers want the ability to switch between channels during their journey. They might start online, move to email and finally order on the phone, for example. Simply focusing on the digital parts of the interaction in isolation doesn’t deliver the required levels of integration.

3. Companies are organized into departments, each with responsibilities for different channels, and are normally rewarded for the success of their channel. This silo-based approach makes it difficult to apportion credit for a successful interaction that spans multiple channels, and can lead to turf wars between departments, hitting the overall customer experience.

Putting the customer first
How can you solve these challenges and make sure that digital transformation delivers a positive impact on customer experience, rather than creating greater complexity for consumers and the organization? The key is putting the customer first, and taking a comprehensive view of the entire journey and all of its touchpoints. By focusing on customer experience management, rather than particular channels, organizations will benefit in three ways:

1. Match innovation to your customers’ needs
It can be tempting to rush into implementing cool digital technologies. However, you need to look at your customer base first – are they early adopters that will be attracted by innovation or are they happier with more mainstream technologies? The risk is that your investment in digital could mean alienating more existing customers than attracting new ones. Look at who your most profitable customers are, and aim to meet their needs.

2. Find out what customers really want
Assuming that customer journeys are digital-only may mean that you ignore key physical touchpoints or simpler ways of operating. Understand what issues need to be fixed on traditional channels first, before launching into digital projects. Otherwise, new technology may simply exacerbate existing problems, undermining the overall experience and meaning projects don’t deliver value.

3. Focus on what fits your customer
There is no one size fits all approach to digital transformation - it has to be focused on a detailed understanding of your customers and the journey they undertake. Build an overall customer experience management plan first, rather than simply investing in technology or projects that may fail to deliver.

The boundaries between digital and physical channels are becoming blurred as customers increasingly demand the ability to switch between them in the same conversation. Therefore, taking a silo-based approach that fails to put the customer at the heart of the experience is doomed to fail and may actually impact the overall service that you provide. Instead, take a holistic view of customer experience management to ensure you always put the customer first.

Tags: Customer Service, Customer experience, Gartner, Digital transformation, Augie Ray, Eptica, touchpoint, silo, digital, Customer engagement
Categories: Best Practice

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