Streams of light representing digital transformation

Digital transformation: the biggest trend and the biggest threat

In the 'In the 'Age of the Customer' more organisations are recognising the need to build customer-centric businesses. Too many organisations are confusing a ‘seamless customer experience’ with the need for a new app or platform.

However, an emerging concern is that Digital transformation isn’t being truly informed by the customers' needs and therefore does not improve their experience. Research we have been reading points towards an over-focus on the busyness of digital innovation, which leads to an under-focus on the real business of CX.

Spending $20 million on a digital transformation without knowing what your customers want can be a waste of investment. In our experience, what customers want is for organisations to first fulfil the expectations they set when they signed up, which may be something as simple as answering the phone in less than 5 minutes.

"In a global survey of 800 CIOs by Dynatrace, 73% of respondents said the need for speed in digital innovation is putting customer experience at risk. The study found that on average, organisations release new software updates three times per working hour, as they push to keep up with competitive pressures and soaring consumer expectations. And nearly two-thirds (64%) of CIOs admitted they are forced to compromise between faster innovation and the need to ensure customers have a great experience." Neil Davey writes.

Many large organisations are falling victim to what we call ‘Shiny iPad Syndrome’. They’re more engaged in developing shiny new technology solutions and digital transformation than addressing the core incompetencies in their business model and service delivery. More often than not, the effort isn't informed by deep customer understanding and therefore doesn't give rise to what customers actually want.

Forrester’s research director Harley Manning recently remarked, "Even with ‘service’ as the brand promise, most ordinary brands are not equipped for a CX transformation."

Furthermore, Colin Shaw, CEO of Beyond Philosophy explained “This year we have seen the continuation of the headlong drive into digital transformation - what is new is we are seeing the start of AI implementations. Both of these have the obvious benefit of increased efficiency and cost-savings. However, both share a BIG threat that I see too many companies falling into. In the organisation’s desire to implement these, they are damaging their customers' experience making it worse, not better. In their dash to automate everything to save cost, they are accidentally automating the one thing which drives the most value for them with the customer. Typically, this can be a human interaction."

"In the organisation’s desire to implement digital initiatives, they are damaging their customers' experience - making it worse, not better."

We know many organisations don't conduct rigorous customer research proportional to their multi-million dollar digital transformation. This can lead to ultimately building solutions to the wrong problem. In light of this, we've written some guidelines that can help you to check you’ve made the affordable and immediate improvements to your customer's experience first before you get stuck into the "shiny new iPad" solutions.

  1. Help your people empathise
    People are the literal ‘face’ of your business, so if they aren’t communicating effectively or aren’t empathising with customers, the experience will be disappointing. One of the most powerful strategies we use is to share customer stories across organisations. This helps people at all levels understand what it is like to walk in their customers’ shoes. By building real understanding and insight, organisations can drive a change in attitude to daily tasks. When employees put the customer at the centre of what they do, the customer feels it.
  2. Review out of date policies
    Another great place to start is by examining and refreshing policies. Even if your policies are at odds with delivering a good customer experience, employees will follow policy as they seek to meet their KPIs. You need to ask how you can re-work policies to align with your CX vision. You want to empower your people to deliver a better customer experience without having to break the rules and risk their job.
  3. Connect your procedures across departments
    Quite often organisations make promises through their brand, but there is no structure across the different functions within the business to deliver on those promises. By reviewing and streamlining your processes so that business functions are working towards a common goal of customer experience rather than team KPIs, you can eliminate all those tasks and obligations that don’t add value to the customer. You can then all focus on the things that do.
  4. Refresh your collateral
    Looking at your communications and collateral, you can delve deeper into customer communications and identify any shortcomings. This includes looking at things like website copy, emails and SMS to ensure communications are speaking to customers about the problems that are most important to them, rather than what you want to tell them about you. Customers want communications that are relevant and succinct; you need to understand how you’re coming across in the context of everything else they are hearing. Only they can tell you. And it continually changes as their whole communications ecosystem moves on.
  5. Make your processes consistent
    Do you have checklists for people to go through to resolve customer problems? Are you helping your people by reducing the amount of effort they use to think through the next actions? Are you shoring up your CX by making resolutions quick, seamless and consistent on a repeatable basis? And for each step on the list, does it really help customers resolve their problems, or is it there to serve your internal needs?

Get in touch to find out how we can enable you to design outstanding experiences people love. Contact or call us on (02) 8379 6600

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