This blog, co-written with Richard Alvarez (UX Practice Lead, Apexon), draws on their joint experience in the Customer Experience environments.
Digital transformation is no longer a question of if but when. Every company now appreciates the need for digitalization as a business optimization strategy, with these defined goals a priority for decision makers.
As digital engineering professionals, we now spend a lot less time defining what digital transformation is and whether it is required. Instead, the focus is on how to do it, how to excel at it, where to invest efforts and how to scale.
So, how’s your digital transformation going?
If the answer to this question doesn’t revolve around your customers, it might be a sign that your organization is stuck in “tech optimization” mode rather than shifting into the higher gear required for true digital business transformation. What distinguishes digital transformation from, say, a tech upgrade, is that integrating a strategy is an opportunity to fundamentally re-imagine the business from the perspective of the customer.
And while it can be all too easy to lose sight of customer-centricity when pursuing shorter-term goals, it’s a trap business leaders must avoid. Thanks to advances in cloud computing, native development and AI, we are increasingly seeing customer experience transformation become a competitive differentiator and a C-suite priority.
To put it more simply, the adage of digital first has become digital only. Taking this into account, here are six markers that should ensure that your digital transformation is on track for the next level of customer experience and engagement:
According to Gartner’s 2021 CIO Agenda,76 percent of respondents reported an increased demand for new digital products or services during the pandemic and 83 percent expect this demand to increase further in 2021.
“Many changes made in response to COVID-19 will continue to accelerate because they made business sense,” the study said. “For example, customers and citizens shifted their activity online during the lockdown, increasing demand for new digital products and services, as well as self-service use.”
And Gartner’s recommended response? “Invest in customer-facing technologies.”
The pandemic might still be an ongoing health issue, but one plus point is that CIOs and CEOs worked more closely together on digital business strategies. Two thirds of CIOs reported a strengthened relationship with their CEO, Gartner said, which meant that 70 percent of CIOs were able to assume responsibility for high-impact initiatives. In addition, 80 percent of respondents have been educating the C-suite on the value of IT.
In other words, this is a golden opportunity to carry on the momentum of digital business acceleration. IT budgets are increasing, digital transformation is on everyone’s agenda and customer experience spend is in the spotlight. A recent blog post from IDC doubled down on this trend, saying that, “as companies strive to retain or reclaim customers post-COVID, customer experience has emerged as the clear differentiator.”
Many companies have arguably reached a fork in the road when it comes to their digital transformation journey. They have dealt with the low-hanging fruit in the organization and now it is time to scale their ambition. This next step includes overhauling their customer experience goals.
However, this often means addressing the limitations of outdated core systems, which need to adapt to support business agility. Increasingly enterprises – even in traditionally conservative sectors, like banking, finance and insurance – are looking at innovative ways to update their capabilities.
For example, Apexon, an Apexon company, worked with a large UK-based insurer to update its customer communication management system, a resource that was outdated and laborious to manage. Using agile delivery methods, Apexon designed an automated, responsive solution based on Quadient technologies, that was flexible and reactive as well as working seamlessly with the company’s existing IT systems.
Optimizing customer experience is a key predictor of customer loyalty, satisfaction and sales.
Enter the chief experience officer, a dedicated role taking the long view of what makes an organization’s customer service culture succeed. As Forrester’s Martin Gill explains in this recent blog post, “customer experience (CX) leaders grow revenue faster than CX laggards, cut costs, reduce risk and can charge more for their products.”
Big data is playing an increasingly significant role in how businesses view customer experience.
Where once a few “squeaky wheels” could attract a disproportionate amount of customer service attention, advanced analytics can give us a more accurate picture of the state of customer satisfaction along the whole journey. These insights give businesses the opportunity to go beyond fixing customer touchpoints to thinking about the customer journey in context.
Powerful customer communication systems, driven by AI/ML and fuelled by customer data, are transforming digital businesses.
Whereas previously, organizations struggled to make full use of the data in their possession, advanced data engineering and analytics are making it easier to access and operationalize customer insights from across the purchasing cycle. For example, these systems join up previously siloed information to deliver a much more sophisticated form of customer understanding and engagement.
Alleviating Pain Points with CX Transformation
Many enterprises instinctively understand the importance of CX as part of digital transformation, but struggle to make their vision a reality.
Gaining senior level buy-in can be an early obstacle because, unlike targeted sales and marketing activities, the ROI around CX can be harder to prove. Furthermore, customer experience transformation often hinges on culture change, so you must win hearts and minds within the organization to deliver long-lasting improvements.
Enterprises may also find they need to address the capabilities of their existing systems before their vision of customer centricity can become a reality. The best customer management systems seamlessly integrate customer data from across the customer journey and use advanced analytics in real time to turn that information into actionable insights.
Often, enterprises require some degree of data engineering before they can deploy big data solutions like these because they need to have reached a certain level of digital maturity on their transformation journey before they can fully reap the benefits. To quote a recent IDC blog on the subject, seamless customer experience “requires a customer-first culture combined with deep analytical maturity to support decision-making across the organization.”
As digital transformation in enterprises accelerates, focusing on customer experience transformation should be a strategic priority. For the record, CX transformation is not (only) measured in positive customer service feedback. But the companies that understand that sustained customer experience transformation efforts translate into more revenue and greater efficiency will not regret taking the required steps forward.
Customer experience is a critical part of how and where brands engage, and the connected society has taken this to a new level. Apexon’s teams of digital engineers are well-equipped to solve the toughest challenges that companies face, so don’t delay and reach out to us to find how we can help alleviate your pain points.
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