Digital transformation & the customer experience



Digital transformation is a term that you hear far more about than you actually see in action. Many organisations talk a good game, but those that have a coherent, workable and strategic plan for their digital transformation are few and far between.

This is certainly the case with many established businesses, but it is also true in the world of high growth companies too. Some of these firms are of course, absolutely rooted in digital and it impacts and informs their entire business. But there is an assumption that startups and high-growth firms have all addressed digital and are proficient in making to work for them, and that simply isn’t the case.

And that really is hard to understand why, especially considering how digital transformation relates to the customer experience. Digital informs absolutely everything that consumers do in 2016, so surely that means digital should be informing how brands interact with those consumers and the type of customer experience they deliver?

Customers can drive digital transformation

While digital transformation is about much more than servicing customers, the sheer ubiquity of digital touchpoints in consumers’ lives means that the customer experience can undoubtedly drive all manner of digital transformation projects.

But given the importance of providing a good customer experience, with empowered consumers having more choice than ever before, basing your digital transformation around customer experience is something that most businesses should be looking at. What’s important to remember though, is that digital transformation in terms of customer experience most definitely does not mean ramping up your social media presence and thinking that the job is done.

While there are billions of people on social networks, customer service interactions happen via a number of channels – and social media is by no means the largest. Furthermore, social media is simply not that effective in addressing queries and delivering a good customer experience. The format is very limiting and agents will mostly steer the customer towards chat or another channel as a matter of course anyway. 140 characters is not enough to address many customer interactions.

Integration, not siloes

Smart digital transformation will focus across the entire business, not merely placing it in its own digital silo. Digital should be part of an overall omnichannel strategy that aims to give consumers a positive experience irrespective of channel. This may at times include Twitter and other social platforms, but will also include voice, chat, online and most importantly, mobile.

It is still quicker and more cost-effective for brands to let consumers self-serve, whether via live chat, mobile app or an effective IVR system. All of these allow a consumer to resolve issues quickly and mean that the brand spends far less time addressing the query. Too many organisations can get bogged down in the digital customer experience itself, rather than using data captured from digital interactions to deliver the insight required for an omnichannel experience.

This data will include a breakdown of what the customer has done previously, what they have bought, what issues they have had, how those issues were resolved and much more – effectively knowing and understanding the person behind the click. This allows a frontline customer service agent to offer an infinitely better experience to that customer, resolving issues quicker and offering help at the right time and via the right channel.

An omnichannel strategy that aims to give consumers a positive experience irrespective of channel remains the benchmark for a first-class customer experience, and one that high growth firms would do well to remember as they embark on digital transformation projects.

Digital transformation will not happen overnight and many businesses are not structured to support it effectively, often lacking the people, technology and processes. But addressing digital in terms of the customer experience is as good a place to start as any, as long as people remember that it HAS to be integrated across the entire business.

By Mike Hughes, MD, PeopleTECH