Customers hold tremendous power over businesses, as their satisfaction and retention are key metrics for measuring success. Paul Stevenson, chief experience officer at V2 Digital, outlines why they can’t be left behind in a digital transformation.
In the era of digital transformation, businesses must prioritize customer-centricity to deliver exceptional experiences, enhance financial metrics, and avoid disruption. Success requires engaging employees, harnessing feedback, clear communication, and measurable results.
In the era of digital transformation, businesses can get lost in technological advancements, losing sight of the goal: delivering an exceptional customer experience, which will ultimately improve financial metrics. To maintain a customer-centric focus during transformation, it’s critical for brands to attain employee advocacy, communicate relevant changes effectively and constantly seek feedback to ensure personalised, and value-driven customer interactions never waver.
Digital transformation is the implementation of digital technology (new and existing) to create a new business model or uplift an existing product, services and operations. The goal is to increase value through innovation, brilliant customer experiences and seamless digital fluency.
Customer experience driving a revolution
The digital landscape is evolving at breakneck speed. New technologies emerge daily, and companies are racing to embrace them to stay competitive. However, in this rush towards innovation, it’s all too easy for organisations to lose sight of their ‘why’ – the customer.
It goes without saying that digital transformation brings a raft of benefits but if it isn’t managed effectively it can also cause disruptions potentially unravelling strong customer relationships that have previously been forged.
The success of any digital transformation initiative hinges on a profound understanding of customer needs. According to a recent Boston Consulting Group report, more than 80 percent of companies now acknowledge the need for digital transformation. Engaging customers in a seamless and responsive manner depends on an enterprise-wide adoption of the technology needed to communicate, engage, and service clients in real-time.
Customer-centric transformation: the why and how
Digital transformation, at its core, should be about enhancing the customer experience and addressing their evolving expectations. Today’s consumers demand seamless, personalised, and value-driven interactions with brands. They are time-poor and expect efficient ways of transacting with brands at every touchpoint. If technology is brought in but fails to do this, the customer is left feeling frustrated and jumps to a competitor.
Harvesting and harnessing customer feedback during a transformation
Keeping a finger on the pulse and tapping into customer sentiment throughout the digital transformation journey will ensure any required iterations can be made before they cause too much of an issue. Businesses need to take steps to open feedback channels, making it easy for customers to share their experience but also proactively request their opinions at critical pivot points. An organisation must listen to customer feedback and act on it at pace. It can go one step further here by circling back to its customers with changes made as a result so they feel heard and valued. This ‘feedback-first’ mentality needs to be culturally embedded in the organisation (and not just in the marketing department).
Amazon’s relentless focus on customer-centricity has made it a global e-commerce leader. Its investment in Prime, fast shipping, and superior customer service (time to respond to issues, delivery promise, clear recommendations, ability to personalise offers etc) has redefined convenience and loyalty because feedback is actioned. With large language feedback applications available there simply is no excuse for allowing customers to go unheard.
Communication as a cornerstone
Effective multi-layered communication during digital transformation is non-negotiable. Companies must be transparent about their intentions, the changes that lie ahead, and how these changes will impact and benefit the customer and/or employee.
Several companies have successfully navigated digital transformations while keeping their customers at the forefront. Starbucks announced its digital initiatives to enhance the customer experience, including mobile ordering and rewards programs, well in advance, generating engagement and trust. Being one step ahead, anticipating disruptions and taking action accordingly, will pay off with increased brand trust as customers see you have their best interests at heart.
Employee engagement matters
To sustain a customer-centric transformation, organisations must ensure that employees are engaged and aligned with the company’s customer-centric mission. To do this they must be involved in the process from start to finish to create ‘change champions’. Where possible, teams should be involved in decision-making and asked for their insights so they ‘buy in’ to the process and feel a personal desire to do their part in helping it to succeed.
The impact of digital transformation must be quantifiable and measurable. Customer satisfaction, retention rates, Net Promoter Scores (NPS), and employee engagement are commonly used metrics to gauge the success of customer-centric initiatives, ultimately improving the financial metrics across the entire customer lifecycle. However, it’s important to note that these metrics may take time to demonstrate trends. Along with key metrics and survey results, don’t discredit anecdotal feedback garnered from having regular conversations with customers and with team members actively involved in the work. Try to capture it all in one place and set aside time for ongoing evaluation to enable real time improvements.
In conclusion, customer-centricity is the driving force behind successful digital transformation. Companies that listen to their customers, communicate effectively, and achieve employee advocacy are the ones that thrive in today’s digital landscape. By emulating success stories like Amazon and Starbucks, organisations can not only satisfy evolving customer expectations but also drive business growth and value.
In the digital age, keeping customers onside and included in the process is not just a choice; it’s the key to long-term success, directly influencing critical business metrics like revenue, retention, and acquisition. It’s time for businesses to place customers firmly at the heart of digital transformation journeys and reap the rewards of a customer-centric approach.