Customer expectations have been dramatically reshaped by digital technologies, and companies must realize the distinct shift. Today’s digital age requires companies to remain relevant by reacting to digitally disrupted behavior with personalized experience offerings and creating tangible moments for their customers that bind them to the brand. There are a number of factors to consider to engage customers better and thus achieve much faster growth and better ROI.
Understanding how customer behavior has changed
Digital transformation has resulted in many changes. Not the least of these is how we all must view our customers. It’s not just offering a product or service any longer. It is now a dynamic customer journey - an experience that we must provide to our customers if we truly want them to connect with our brand. Customers rightfully expect a broad set of self-service capabilities, and a means to customize their encounter with us. Customers expect to have offered them related interactions through a variety of different online and offline channels, on top of surpassing their expectations with quality and benefits, addressing buying behavior and preferences, and keeping them interested. The new path-to-purchases is no longer linear, and it involves several interactions and channels. Let’s dig in a bit.
The new path-to-purchases is no longer linear, and it involves several interactions and channels.
Core business capabilities being changed
As modern customers silo themselves into associations that share like-minded goals and ethos, they search for brands that are ubiquitous and can be integrated into many aspects of their lives. Accordingly, companies must completely change their business capabilities, especially in the front office, in order to create curated, memorable experiences and be relevant to their customers where they are. This can be better achieved by having an omnichannel presence: digital reminders (i.e., emails and text messages), AI in the form of chatbots, and physical client service hosted by actual people. Their strategy should begin by making Customer Engagement the focus by utilizing digital technologies to generate purposeful and astute connections with new and existing customers and taking advantage of new data sources and analytics to implement automated recommendations and services. In practical terms, this could mean cross-selling another product a customer might not realize they need, which could be had at a discount as part of a bundle; or giving the customer the ability to customize their payment dates or amounts to meet their financial goals. As customers seek quicker resolutions for their daily tasks, companies must leverage their entire ecosystem and digital capabilities to offer seamless first-class customer service across the whole customer journey. To put it another way, companies need to acknowledge the new behavior by engaging with each touchpoint and brand purpose, building fresh business models, and presenting data-driven specific correspondence that makes each user feel has been designed specifically for his or her unique set of needs and circumstances.
Spotlighting the creation of a connected experience
Companies where each unit of business has its own set of customer engagement applications usually keep different views of isolated customer data, leading to different disconnected (read, “friction-full”) instances for the customer. While today’s consumers are in a state of constant connection, their expectations have yet to be met by the experiences being offered to them by most companies. To enable intelligent and connected customer touchpoints, the entire front-office structure needs to shift away from the incorporated model based on technology components and business functions and mature into a model that is customer-centric, with a foundation of diverse layers that consider today’s customers’ needs and ensures an omnichannel experience that is best-in-class and frictionless. This can be in the form of a marketing email filled with recommendations and vouchers based on previous purchase history or setting up dynamic content a customer sees on a website based on their user profile/preferences. By breaking down the walls separating siloed applications and data sources and leveraging the power of analytics and AI, companies can build a secure and intelligent, best-in-class platform that offers customers the connected encounter they are looking for.
Selecting an approach that revolves around the individual while maintaining the ability to remain flexible is a key factor in securing a successful understand of the customer's goals...
Adopting an agile human-centric approach and mindset
Finally, selecting an approach that revolves around the individual while maintaining the ability to remain flexible is a key factor in securing a successful understanding of the customer's goals, pain points, and needs when modeling for innovation and change. This opens an appealing approach to problem-seeking/solving by taking the user’s perspective as the lens to view things from and can only be accomplished by employing organizational culture and mindset in line with that perspective and the right tools and procedures. A good look at the foundations of customer service offerings is an ideal place to start: incorporating more of the omnichannel approach by offering multiple portals of support while optimizing weight and response times - a strategy that mixes digital and live, in-person support. A more contemporary approach, such as design centered around human capital, requires a new mindset and operating models, such as flexible collaborative innovation, design thinking for creative problem solving, and iterative product development. They commonly result in market archetypes, community based-personas, and user-centered customer journeys rather than the traditional customer segmentation based on demographics, socioeconomic factors, or defining and describing organization-centered business processes. By adopting this new mindset and culture, companies can take advantage of the standard drives that back these doctrines to forge and manufacture connected, value-focused, user-centered experiences that will garner enough loyalty from customers to enthusiastically advocate for and act as ambassadors for their favorite brands.
It’s not an easy task to grow and deliver a comprehensive customer-centric strategy and transformation. Many companies have a tendency to manage digital initiatives as minor projects within an apt function or division. Companies wanting to evolve beyond those tendencies must develop a digital mindset that the company’s culture, activities, structure, and people are aligned with the broad ambition of the organization.
It is time for everyone to begin putting at the center of their digital transformation journey the human perspective to take their customer experience to the next level.