Digital transformation has opened up opportunities for exchanges of information in new ways. Consumers are not just embracing this, they are demanding it and as a result it has radically changed their behaviours.

A recent ONS report shows that the internet was accessed every day by 78 per cent of adults in Great Britain in 2015 and that 96 per cent of adults aged 16 to 24 accessed the internet from mobile devices. Market leaders know it too and are harnessing communication and collaboration technologies to enable new ways to interact, exchange information and better serve the customer.

If an organisation is to exist in the digital era it needs to have clarity in its digital vision and a strategy on how to achieve this vision. At least four significant elements must be encompassed in any successful strategy to best serve today’s digital customer:

Profiling digital customers

Everything starts with the customer.

The march towards digital transformation has social, technological and commercial drivers. The most significant driver of them all is the fact that the customer has already made the change and is dictating how we must serve their needs. While there is a clear and growing recognition of the strategic significance of digital transformation, there is less clarity on where we should start and how best to proceed. So start with the customer.

Profiling digital customers can explain everything about who they are. Whether they are young or old, at work or home, or on the road. It can tell us exactly what they want – for example if they need help or advice, or if they are just hoping to give some feedback or ask a question out of curiosity.

Whatever the customer wants when they begin to engage on a digital platform, we know that they want it now, whether it’s morning, noon or night. And they want it in a way that suits them.

Customer service practices may in the past have tried to force customers to join one queue or another, and it may have used scripts and application forms to control what the customer could ask for. Today, the digital customer insists that they will connect with us, communicate, and exchange information, in the manner that happens to be most convenient to them at that particular moment in time.

Mapping customer journeys

Serving digital customers properly means we have to be able to handle all the channels that they choose to use. The growth of these channels and different formats for communication, and the ease with which customers can switch from one to another, means it is becoming increasingly difficult to map customer journeys.

But it can be done if certain key principles are kept in mind: Firstly, walk in the customers’ shoes. Map journeys from the customer perspective and not from the constrained perspective of current capabilities, processes or structures.

Bear in mind that customer experience is not just a rational thing, but has an emotional dimension as service has an impact on how the customer feels.

In addition, not everything is controllable. With social channels, customer journey maps now include things that may be influenced, but not controlled. And lastly, know what matters. Digital transformation is a process rather than an event. Everything cannot be fixed at once, so focus on things that have the greatest impact.

Delivering consistent experiences

With the rapid growth of digital engagement, most organisations will already have adopted and adapted to help serve this new type of customer. However, the developments and systems put in place have often been piecemeal and siloed, and are now creating operational governance issues.

Often we can see duplication, whereby customers initiate contact via two or more channels simultaneously, or skills and expertise within an organisation are strong for one channel but fall short in another. Furthermore, measurements of customer satisfaction will not always be consistent across channels.

If organisations are to avoid these issues, we must manage engagement, their supporting systems, and reporting measurements, within one single framework. Single views of every customer journey will deliver consistent experiences across the omni-channel landscape.

Managing value exchange

In the omni-channel world of the digital customer, information takes many forms – voice, video, data. It is shared over a variety of devices from PCs, to tablets, smartphones and kiosks, and over a number of networks including social, mobile, corporate and cloud.

Sharing this information with customers is how we create value. Information management – in particular data analytics which can mine data to fully understand the entire customer action – combined with effective engagement management allow us to deliver better experiences, make smarter decisions, and remain competitive.

If an organisation is to exist in the digital era, it needs to have clarity in its digital vision and a strategy on how to achieve this vision. The digital vision must acknowledge the reality that the customer now sets the rules regarding how they interact with us. A failure to keep up with this fundamental change in dynamics will cause customer defections.

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