I have met many clients recently who continue to struggle with the new era of “Digital Darwinism” where technology, society, and business models rapidly evolve and change. The customer experience part is often something that is a work in progress, as they struggle to get marketing, technology and operations aligned for that utopian digital customer engagement.
Because of the nature of our business, many clients ask us about digital customer engagement including: How to do we use social media? Do we need an app? Do we need an expensive technology program to bring together all our customer systems into a single customer view?
Getting to the truth is far simpler. We always ask our clients to tell us about their customer journey. This is from both from an offline and digital perspective and includes all touchpoints and interactions. This is a critical starting point for any strategy focused on digital customer engagement.
The Rationale for Change
Every day we come across many organisations that are seeking to become “more digital” and when we explore this aspiration with clients further, it’s really about developing a new viewpoint focused on improved customer experiences with their digitally evolving customer base. This is a great catalyst that often brings a collective burning ambition of digital transformation to the rest of the business.
While digital transformation isn’t an end-game clients quickly realise it’s a continuous and iterative journey. It’s learning about the relationship between technology and customer engagement, and how technology can substantially improve the customer experience (CX) and improve backend operations.
Five Steps to Boost your Digital Customer Experience and Drive your Business
1. Educate your business about the desired customer journey.
You need to get the entire business on the same page. This is a non-negotiable. If your technology program isn’t delivering the right solution for your desired customer journey, then it’s the wrong investment. Use it as a blueprint for strategic program of organisational change across all teams from marketing to technology and operational teams.
2. Unpack your customer understanding further.
Make it a priority to get intimate and define the persona of your customers. What are the key physical and technical touch points interacting with your business and how do you measure their experience? What are your customer’s expectations, what do they value? The level of granularity is really important to understand to help your organisation to focus on the right things and also tell you the things you don’t know.
3. Ask, test and learn from your customers
Asking new and existing customer about their experiences will give you an insight into what is occurring today. Also use it as an opportunity to test new ideas or technologies. There is no point investing in a huge social media or technology transformation if your customer base isn’t going to engage or use it. Use the opportunity to test and learn to get the right strategies in place.
4. Use the Power of Data
Yes, I know everyone is talking about big data, however I’m talking about real insights into your customer data, as it represents the key to unlocking customer behaviors and preferences. Unfortunately existing technologies and processes lack a support model to gather and distribute actionable insights to key stakeholders.
This does not come from fancy technology tools, this comes from thought leadership around customer’s experience, talking to actual customers and really smart people who can look at unique data and analytics differently to understand patterns and behaviours. This will lead to smart decisions and new innovations, ensuring the right programs achieve your goals.
Beware of the big data sales people. Instead look for thought leaders in your business or get some in.
5. Make Customer Experience “The Strategy”
Development of the customer journey can often cause ownership issues, and at times have been the domain of just marketing or similar teams. Resources and ownership of these elements are normally divided among departments in regards to different customer touchpoints with different standards and even technologies.
If your technology strategy does not match your desired customer journey, then you need to change it. Use it as a reference point when making investment decisions or getting technologies to clearly articulate how this is going to help the end customer strategy.
Savvy leadership needs to help drive a consistent, sound strategy to allow all teams to be aligned to the end CX strategy. This means ensure all teams have the same priorities, and measures of success around the right outcomes. The customer experience strategy needs a story and a vision for what it looks like and what it delivers to your customers. Once people can relate to what it means to the ‘real’ customers, you find that teams can focus their priorities and investment, make meaningful decisions and focus on what’s important. Your customer.
Cameron Smith is the CEO of CoTé Software & Solutions