Recent reports say that when it comes to digital transformation, there’s a huge gap between where business is and where it wants to be – and many companies are stuck at “good enough.”
The goal for a successful digital transformation effort envisions the outcome first, and an end result (beyond automation, streamlined processes and practices, and new revenue streams) is an unmatched digital customer experience (DCX).
Accenture, a global professional services company, surveyed nearly 400 decision makers about their digital transformation experiences, and 73 percent said their digital customer experience (DCX) meets their customers’ expectations, but just 5 percent are exceeding expectations. That means they’re likely leaving revenue on the table, and they’re not pulling ahead of competitors.
Is a “good enough” DCX okay for your business? Of course not. If your results are ordinary, your customers are likely already looking past you.
People drive digital transformation
Many business executives make the mistake of believing that digital transformation happens by some technological voodoo: You hire a third -party vendor, write a big check, and voila, you’re done. But there is no “done”—digital transformation is a journey, rather than a destination or a series of projects cobbled together.
In today’s digital economy, consumers are in the driver’s seat. They want and expect immediate access to whatever is they think you can provide for them. They want access to their account, or their favorite new product, or information about how to use that product, or any staggering number of other services the instant, always-on Internet provides. And they want it now. If you don’t give them what they want, someone else will.
Digital transformation asks for a true change of business model; your company’s organizational structure, culture, and technology must be about and in service of the customer immediate wants and needs. Digital and the customer experience are inextricably linked—whether you are a company of one or of hundreds.
Transforming small and midsize business
Getting into the business of digital transformation can be a challenge for small and mid-sized businesses, but many are using technology to get a competitive edge on bigger companies, says a recent study from SAP that looked at how the digital economy is impacting companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.
Nearly half of the 3,200 decision makers surveyed in 11 countries said they believe technology levels the playing field for small businesses versus larger ones, and 40 percent see their smaller size as an advantage because they are more agile and can move more quickly than bigger players in the market.
Most small and mid-sized businesses have implemented some form of technology, perhaps in the form of social media, apps, or cloud-based solutions. For such businesses, technological additions must satisfy key drivers of profitability and customer experience while mitigating risk into opportunity and turning cost into revenue without impacting cash flow.
That can be a tall order, but according to the SAP study, more than 42 percent of small and mid-size firms are engaged in digitally transforming their businesses and ultimately, their DCX. Most often, they’re finding solutions to automate functions, get a look at real-time data insights, and enhance processes. They’re beginning to get beyond good enough.
Beyond “good enough”
Giving customers extraordinary experiences is not a new concept, but digital customer experiences have added a whole new wrinkle to the traditional business model. Online and offline customers are two different animals, and they experience your business in vastly dissimilar ways. Online consumers are impatient; they won’t wait for a web page that loads slowly or a site that’s not friendly to their mobile devices.
Seamless DCX builds customer loyalty and revenue. But how do you begin to get there?
Here are four key takeaways from the Accenture report: 1) Build total company-wide buy-in that starts at the top, and that includes digital education for all and a culture that nurtures, understands, and values the online consumer; 2) Begin at the end with clarity of vision focused on the end goal (seamless, unsurpassed DCX) and commit financial and people resources toward a core set of technologies; 3) Foster an appreciation of data and a risk-taking attitude that sees mistakes as learning moments; and 4) Establish long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with third-party experts, because nobody achieves digital transformation alone.
For more smart customer experience strategies, see Live Customer Experiences For The Digital Economy.