Once upon a time, digitalisation was all the rage. Digital transformation was the holy grail, and everyone went searching for it. It became a way of life for organisations, both traditional and new, underpinned by major tech trends captured in smart acronyms like SMAC (Social Media, Mobile Devices, Analytics and the Cloud) that had everyone towing the same line.
But somewhere along the way, it turned out that digital transformation in the business environment and of itself was not enough. Social media became a way of life, mobile devices became pervasive, analytics gave everyone the same insights, and the Cloud sped everything up and leveled the playing field. Differentiation, therefore, was becoming harder to come by, as was winning competitive advantage. Digital transformation requires a strategic digital transformation that, as any strategy, looks at the goals, current situation and how to move forward on a transformational journey in a way that makes sense and connects the dots.
Then the pandemic happened, and almost overnight your digital channels became the most important part of your business. Lockdown meant business continuity literally depended on them, and whether they were B2B or B2C didn’t matter as long as they kept you in business.
This wholesale switch to a ‘new normal’ of doing business remotely – working, selling, interacting with customers, growing – put the focus on aspects of your digital channels that, until now, you possibly weren’t even thinking about. Aspects such as User Experience (UX) and the User Interface (UI) of your software platforms, websites and applications - collectively part of what we call the Customer Experience (CX) - suddenly became business critical.
A recent McKinsey & Company survey of global executives found that “their companies have accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years…and [that] the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years.” 1
Since everyone, including your competitors, is using their digital channels as a primary means of commercial engagement, business becomes less about paying attention to SMACs and more about making sure your CX is attracting and retaining more customers than your competitors. But how do you know if your CX is a winner?
That’s where analytics comes in. All that groundwork you put in to enable and use “big data” to find out who and where your customers were can now be put to use to find out what your customers want – and to give it to them.
Using analytics in combination with your digital channels you can, for example, test what works and what doesn’t for individual customers. You can then engage directly with your customers with clever initiatives like one-to-one marketing, understanding and matching their preferences and tailoring your products and services accordingly. Personalisation is the new expectation. Get it right and you engender loyalty and, in a fickle digital world, customer retention.
This may all sound fairly straightforward, but believe me it’s not. For starters, this new way of doing business is very new to many organisations, especially more traditional businesses for whom brick-and-mortar front offices and branches are all they know. Sure, digital transformation strategy is not new, but digital transformation en masse very much is. And change, as we know, is not the easiest thing to manage in any business, let alone larger ones.
Thus, as your business updates its systems and plans sweeping new capabilities to its digital channels, it also has to carefully manage the changes this implies both internally and externally. ‘Build it and they will come’ may have worked for Kevin Costner, but it won’t work for your business, not now. Instead, you need to really get to know your customers, those you have and those you want.
For instance, as a bank you can go completely digital and provide all your services online, but as an insurance company you may know that people still want that personal touch, to speak to an advisor (not a bot), and to be guided towards making the right decisions. Or you may find that you have demographic segments that want different experiences. Can you meet those expectations? Should you meet those expectations?
Using analytics lets you know what’s most important to your customers, what they find useful and what they don’t, and optimising the customer experience through your digital channels – taking care to manage the changes this requires – is a big part of navigating your (digital) business successfully in the new normal.
The pace of adoption in the digital realm has rapidly accelerated. Think of it like being on a highway: you need to pick your lane and decide how to navigate the journey safely, and then be equally responsive to unforeseen changes as they happen while you’re speeding to your destination.
Ready to hit that fast lane? There’s no time like the present.
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