Digital customer experience as the driving force behind digital transformation
By Kerry Thomas, IQbusiness Head of Customer Experience
The past couple of months have been trying, to say the least. With the sudden onset of COVID-19, businesses were forced to adapt digitally, driving business leaders to think outside the box in order to navigate the new market reality.
For many businesses, the pandemic has been a reason to accelerate the implementation of digital transformation. One of the defining factors driving these changes is the digital customer experience. Instead of companies focussing on driving the change, a mindset shift needs to happen where customer experiences are optimised, and innovation is prioritised in order to inform and accelerate digital transformation.
Focusing on digital transformation with the objective to not only meet business needs, but customer’s needs as well, has the potential to improve the end-to-end customer experience. This is particularly important when considering the current economic climate and the shift in customers’ online expectations.
The focus on digital customer experiences
What businesses need to realise are the clear distinctions between online and offline customers. For starters, when a customer enters a physical store, there are often factors to consider that are outside of the business’s control. This means that customers may have lower expectations of a physical store, having to rely on the expertise of specific instore employees to attend to their needs. Online customers, on the other hand, also have different expectations. They want businesses to have all the answers and deliver feedback that meets their need at a pace that suits them.
So, what needs to be done? Businesses need to create loyalty through consistency. This means identifying digital touchpoints, customer goals and motivations, and offering personalised experiences that are unique to every phase of the digital journey. The key is to add value to the customer experience by being more proactive and differentiating your offering from the next business. The way in which to differentiate yourselves is no longer solely through products and pricing but rather through the experience that you deliver to your customer.
By doing this, businesses can also better understand and drive purchasing behaviour by being able to track a customer’s digital footprint. This can be invaluable data that can be used to establish where the issues and opportunities are and can assist with the personalisation that customers now expect.
How digital transformation will impact customer experience
In today’s digital world, the rules of customer engagement are constantly changing, forcing businesses to adapt. We see this when scrolling through social media and browsing the web – more and more companies are recognising the importance of an online presence to stay relevant and competitive in this uncertain reality.
Social networks, mobile computing, analytics, and cloud computing are all significant and highly disruptive technology trends. These offer unique and complex business opportunities to reach customers via social media, gain analytics insights, and adjust their offerings to enrich the customer experience.
The reality is that businesses are not the only ones adapting to technology at a rapid pace. It’s therefore important to determine a middle ground where customer value meets business value. E-commerce shopping, personalisation, and new communication channels have been mostly for the benefit of consumers, while giving businesses insight into their needs and expectations.
The type of strategy that incorporates new technology to improve customer experience is a wise move, as it will directly impact the customer’s brand perception and further enable or enhance the customer’s journey in many instances. When done correctly, digital can offer many new opportunities for your business to thrive. Conversely, one needs to be very wary of ‘doing it badly’ in a manner that further disgruntles the customer and causes harm to the brand perception.
How to use technology to improve customer experience
Arguably the most obvious first step is to heighten your online presence. How? Websites are ideal for storing your information and give your customers easy access to the details needed to make a purchasing decision, without having to wait for a consultant to assist them.
Social media is also a powerful tool for interacting with certain categories of customers. While individual chats offer a personalised service and can be tailored to individual customer needs, chatbots – while a little less personal – offer automated and instant responses, rather than having to wait for the first available operator.
Once these basics are in place, robotic automation can be used to reduce the amount of time your team spends on basic processes and help them serve your customers more efficiently. Even automating simple tasks like follow-up emails and ticket prioritisation can go a long way in increasing productivity and improving customer service.
Ultimately, a system that integrates all customer information – from past purchases and previous service interactions, to demographic data and everything in between – and has data analytic capabilities is a smart way to use technology to provide customers with exceptional service, through having that single view of the customer. These systems can help you predict customer needs before they happen, provide clients with personalised service, and even identify opportunities to develop new products that your market needs.
Whether providing helpful online resources, automating specific tasks, or collecting data in ways that will help you more effectively serve each of your customers, focus on creating better, more convenient experiences for your audience.
Digital transformation has the potential to add value to the customer’s digital journey. The key is to incorporate it into your business model in a way that benefits the customer. Keep it simple, look for ways that your interactions can improve their journey and determine how technology can help solve it where appropriate for the customer being serviced.