November 20, 2020
Working with businesses from every industry, we’ve seen that digital transformation becomes far more powerful when it’s driven by improving customer experience (CX).
The increase in availability for smart solutions and the decline in cost for computational tools such as machine learning and analytics means having the latest tech no longer gives you a competitive edge. Instead, we’re seeing that B2B and B2C organisations providing high quality, consistent and authentic customer experiences have far greater ROI than those implementing new technology solutions for the sake of it.
With shifting customer expectations, the proliferation of technology solutions and the increase of competition, focusing on the customer is a powerful way to ensure your business forms lasting relationships with customers and achieves a high return from digital initiatives.
Customer expectations and demands are changing. With digital-native users now a significant proportion of the population, UI and UX interfaces more intuitive than ever and more services available within every category, there are greater demands on product and service providers to deliver not only on function but bring an intuitive, easy to use, and highly personal experience to users.
Customers want to feel understood and taken care of. There's a job to be done, and your customer is hiring your business to get that job done, not to be detoured through a complex process, notified with embarrassing error messages or dealing with interactions that make no sense. This means every touchpoint and interaction needs to be aligned in messaging, style, accuracy and consistency. Providing fast, best-in-class customer service on all fronts results in loyal users and greater overall growth.
Today’s winning businesses are creating customer experiences that are more in-line with the customer themselves, as opposed to assuming what they want and putting the technology first. In fact, various surveys, including a recent survey by AIIM, shows that accurate and consistent communication factor more in a customer’s needs than process automation or other technological advancements.
So, where to begin? To get CX right, companies must connect the entire customer journey from sales to marketing and communication, digitising operations and services from a customer-first point of view.
This begins at the strategy stage, and is most successful when it starts at the level of company culture. Company culture is an important place to begin because decision makers have to be willing to let go of pure transactional and internal KPIs, and move towards metrics that relate more directly to the customer - for instance NPS, customer effort scores, customer satisfaction and customer lifetime value.
The best digital transformation initiatives start with a customer’s pain points and are backed by qualitative and quantitative data and focus groups, as well as methodologies that rapidly test assumptions and prototypes. From here, CX must be considered at every level, including design, data insights and technology implementation. The role of IT and advanced technologies, such as AI, ML, voice, chatbots, data analytics and more, are all considered on the basis of their impact on overall customer experience, as opposed to how technologically advanced the product can be.
At Sush, we work closely with key decision makers during the strategy process so the ideas, concepts and approach can filter through to all teams and become a part of the mindset of the company, beyond the specific project we’re working on. The most successful projects are those where C-suite, strategists, managers, front-line workforce, designers, technologists and data scientists are all on the same page and are working to serve the customer.
Let’s talk technology. Many companies have come to us wanting to implement a mobile solution or AI without having a clear reason why. While using new technologies to realise operational efficiencies and reduce costs is important, this alone is too narrow of a focus and can result in customers struggling with poorly designed experiences or inconsistent and inauthentic touchpoints. Removing these friction points across the experience lifecycle should be the top priority.
What works best for your customer, and by extension your bottom line, is most likely a combination of technologies working specifically to enhance your service, communication abilities or personalisation.
Putting customers at heart of the endeavour will help you focus on scalability and growth. Automation, ML and AI are designed to scale. These technologies are able to take on manual and repetitive tasks related to content production, personalisation and optimisation, allowing your teams to focus on strategic and creative pursuits that will continue to improve the customer experience.
At Sush we implement technology only where it will have the biggest positive impact. This can include CX management platforms, data analytics solutions, AI and ML for personalisation and communication, and carefully constructed UI and UX interfaces. Along with being specialists in tech, we’re proven experts in design thinking and agile methodologies, which ensures all investments of time, money, talent, and other resources are going into a tested objective.
Overall, we see that companies that look to understand customer preferences and patterns through enterprise and ecosystem data are those that make the greatest improvements. Once an organisation has a view of their users and the current state of the CX, it can turn to design thinking, and enablers such as AI and advanced ML, and create a UI that is both in line with the brand and customer needs.
To gauge the ongoing ROI, businesses should be sharing customer data across business units and functions, from sales to service to marketing. These insights can irrefutably prove the value of CX investment, whether it highlights how the business is attracting new customers, increasing customer retention times, or increasing sales for innovative products or services that have been developed to meet new data-derived needs. It also opens up understanding of opportunities for cross or upselling based on current activities for ongoing growth.
The most successful companies are those that know their customers' needs are changing, they know what they want and how they want it, and then they align digital transformation strategies with this information. These businesses utilise methodologies such as design thinking and agile to test an idea or concept in the most efficient way possible, and ensure objectives are inline with the user’s needs. They use evidence-based business cases to justify investment, and continue to make improvements and enhancements over time, authentically communicating with customers at every step of the way.
From our work at Sush Labs we believe the most successful digital transformation strategy is one that focuses on the customer first and foremost. While this approach may seem like it requires more time and cost, we have seen time and again how it pays off in the long run, as it not only achieves initial return from a specific project, but establishes a solid company culture and a mindset for success.
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