More pressure, higher expectations
Changing market dynamics and increasing stakeholder expectations are putting organisations under pressure to respond and thrive. They’ve moved from trying to understand the opportunity for developing a digital strategy; now, they’re grappling with how to accelerate traction and realise value.
Challenges linked to legacy operating models persist, while business as usual and digital transformation are often competing priorities. Organisational culture and behaviours will either enable or limit success, and forward-thinking leaders are recognising that a truly customer-driven organisation is possible with the right people.
When an organisation is truly geared to placing customers at the core of its operations, it forces people to think and act differently. In this environment, customers inform everything you do, how you do it, and what you prioritise. The way people solve problems, respond to change, and evolve processes and technologies accelerates. As a result, digital channels become an integral part of CX, and are foundational to delivering real value.
More is not always better
Operational efficiencies, faster time to market, incredible CX ... there’s been a lot of hype about new digital channels being able to solve a broad array of organisational problems.
The epitome of success, it seemed, was having more connected channels across different technology sets. But is this really the answer to delighting customers?
If customers are aware of new capabilities, they will experiment with what’s on offer. If the new channel provides value to them, they’ll adopt it. If not, they’ll revert to previous ways of interacting.
The problem is that many organisations exclude customers from their transformation process. They rushed to introduce new digital channels, or optimise existing ones, without carefully considering how these channels would meet customer needs, or whether they were the best way to get the job done. It’s unsurprising, then, that customers were starting to feel somewhat fatigued by this flurry of activity and the various options being pushed at them.
The many new features digital offered may have seemed valuable at the outset but, a few months down the line, were simply failing to address a real need or align with how customers wanted to interact with the organisation or consume its products and services
Reviewing the role of digital
So, even as the digital market matures, we’re seeing that when it comes to CX, more technology is not necessarily better. That’s because technology alone can’t drive systemic change. ‘Customer-centric’ may be the catchphrase used in vision and mission statements for many organisations, but how many times are CX strategies actually framed within their strategic context? How deeply is CX entrenched in every facet of the organisation, including culture, people behaviour, core value chain, operations, and technology?
What’s interesting – and potentially, beneficial – is that the quest to digitalise requires organisations to take a long, hard look at how to bring their customers closer to the centre of their planning and execution. This is often an uncomfortable process, as it risks exposing deficiencies and issues with how customers are served. If these issues can be addressed, though, digital transformation will be far more effective than simply deploying new channels to mask legacy processes or promising to deliver exceptional new experiences.
This is where an outside-in, customer-driven mandate for digitalisation comes into play.
Rethink: bringing the customer closer
To win customer mindshare from competitors with more responsive business models, organisations need to bring customers into many parts of their operations. By doing so, they’ll be enabling a more customer-connected culture: one where customers are the ones who guide and inform the direction and priorities of the organisation’s CX and digitalisation initiatives. As unnerving as this may seem, born-digital organisations have done this from the start, to attempt to quickly gain market traction.
The integration of new digital processes and capabilities will work only if these are informed by customer needs. Problems arise when contact channels are introduced and managed in isolation of a product or service, instead of being a feature of how it’s delivered. To change this, channel options should be included in the creation and development of that product or service and aligned with what will best meet customer expectations.
As channels mature and digitalisation delivers more value, investigating other contact channels, whatever they are, will become a necessary and important component of the organisational value chain.
Organisations that transform or introduce new business models without taking this kind of outside-in approach do so at the risk of jeopardising the success of digital transformation.
Reconstruct: getting back to basics
As mentioned earlier, the introduction of new technologies tends to expose rather than alleviate complexity and deficiencies in CX processes. To prepare the organisation for any new digital capability, it’s critical to first address these fundamental issues – which may explain why we’re seeing a renewed emphasis on going back to business basics.
Organisations are taking more of a systems-thinking view to identifying and driving measurable CX outcomes. They’re not just deliberating over how to progress from where they are currently, but are pausing to reimagine CX, employee enablement, and business model innovation. They’re looking at their operating model and, more importantly, how the different parts of the organisation work together to create and sustain value. Before they execute digitalisation initiatives, there’s a reimagining of how things should be done, followed by a reconstruction of core processes to accommodate this.
This approach is what informs the digital transformation programme and creates a platform for a responsive organisation that embraces change, either by introducing new capabilities or addressing customer demands.
Reframe: defining and delivering value
For many organisations, the success of CX initiatives – including digital deployments – hinges on reframing how they identify and deliver value to the market. Those that are ahead of the curve are considering how culture, behaviour, and ways of working need to shift to create the right environment for digitalisation. They lead their transformation with the human factor.
As technology, automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) take over more structured and rudimentary tasks, agents can elevate themselves to play a more relevant role in customer interaction. And, in doing so, they can help improve customer loyalty.
Strategic execution: interdependent and interconnected
Digitalisation is an integral part of the right transformation process. Organisations that can manage these considerations will be much closer to creating an environment that accelerates success.
The best CX comes from recognising that every customer touchpoint is an interdependent component in achieving the desired outcome. For this reason, planning and implementation processes must be shared throughout the organisation and include people at all levels. To respond to customer needs and deliver value more quickly, organisations are starting to work as integrated, orchestrated, cross-functional systems. And, slowly, they’re working on ways to change behaviour and create a culture that can drive widespread transformation.
Successful organisations recognise that they don’t need a digital strategy. What they need is a CX strategy in a digital world.
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