Don’t lose sight of the customer’s experience on your way to digital transformation. Here are some of the right ways to do it.
Companies all over the globe are embracing the concept of digital transformation, not necessarily because they want to, but because they need to change to survive. Most companies have either started or plan to start a “digital transformation project” or “digital experience project.” However, the general understanding of what is meant by “digital transformation” varies from company to company and even among those who assist organizations to make the change.
The nomenclature is partly to blame, as the most important word is missing: customer. This is not about technology, which the word “digital” implies. Digital disruption is driving the change and is essential to achieving the transformation; however, companies that initially focused on technology as the solution are changing their strategy to a human-centered approach as they mature. It is also not a project – a project is finite and has a start and end. This is a journey with an unknown destination; even the most successful companies in this race are constantly reassessing their strategies. There are some important factors to remember when planning your own journey.
Digital transformation is hard
You need to disrupt your business model. Papering over the cracks by developing mobile apps is not transformation. The following changes need to take place:
- No more silos. Michael Hammer told us about this in 1990, yet companies have somehow managed to implement business process and retain the silos.
- Employees should be engaged and committed. Only 33 percent of the U.S. workforce care about their jobs. How can a company succeed when 67 percent of its employees are disengaged?
- The customer is at the heart of your business. “Customer-centric” means just that, and if you do not provide the experience your customers want, they will find it elsewhere. You need to turn your company “outside-in.”
- Technology matters, but it must be fluid and responsive. Omnichannel is an imperative. Disparate and legacy systems with even one customer touchpoint will dilute the customer experience.
- No overnight success. Because this is not about technology, successful companies like Southwest Airlines started on this journey 40 years ago, long before digital disruption.
While this is a daunting scenario, transformation is non-negotiable. Clearly you need to build a strategy that will provide you with as many early wins as possible, and it needs to be unique for your business and customer base.
Defining your strategy: How to attain maturity
Your strategy should take into account that this is an evolutionary process. “Digital Darwinism” is a very apt description of where we are today; only the fittest will survive. You need to evolve your workforce, your interaction with customers, the processes that underpin the customer experience and the technology that facilitates it all. Altimeter has defined six stages of maturity along the digital journey, starting from “business as usual,” as well as what one can hope to achieve at each stage. Bearing in mind that this is essentially about human experience, here are some recommendations for a successful journey.
Excite your captive audience
You need a responsive and engaged workforce. This means a culture change. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world” – the executive must start the transition. Improve communications and transparency within the company, spread the story, and invite input from all areas of the business. Value the ideas that are expressed; after all, everyone is someone’s customer and knows just what irks or pleases them when it comes to service. Pay attention to your millennials; they are here to stay and form a large part of the market.
Map the customer experience
Set up workshops with cross-functional teams to map and re-examine the customer journeys and experiences. The only thing that counts is any interaction with the customer. Very little training is required to obtain impressive results. While the focus is on crafting a better customer experience, there is added value in that employee engagement will increase dramatically, and much of the culture change you require will happen painlessly.
Simplify your processes
The outcomes from your workshops will highlight waste in your process, way beyond Lean and Six Sigma. Apply the process changes and prototype them. You need to streamline your processes and your business architecture in order to refine your technology architecture.
Design tech for the future
Your current IT architecture may be your biggest hindrance to moving forward. You have invested huge sums in IT to get to where you are today. As the boundaries between technology and marketing are dissolving because of the rise of social media, this should be reflected within your organization, with the CMO and CIO collaborating on a future view of what technology is required.
How to know when you have a successful project
This does not happen overnight, but you will be able to measure these changes:
- Your business model has changed irrevocably.
- Your workforce is engaged and productive.
- Your customer base has grown noticeably.
- Your customers are transacting more often.
- Your operations are more effective.
- Your competitors are trying to copy you.
What you do need to do is start now. Remember, done is better than perfect!
John Barnett, Project Coordinator at Iflexion with over 14 years of experience in the IT industry. John is an industry expert in such areas as Business Intelligence, Enterprise Mobility and the Cloud.