Digital transformation is the latest trend that every organisation, in every sector, wants a piece of. In the customer management industry in particular, ‘digital innovation’, ‘digital transformation’ or ‘going digital’ are key phrases heard on almost a daily basis, with organisations keen to impress their customers by adopting the latest technology and ‘added extras’ to make their offering stand out from the crowd. Everyone wants it, although what ‘it’ is, is open to debate. Is it just a case of jumping on the latest bandwagon, or are organisations actually looking to provide a better service for their customers?
However, as Peter Tetlow, Client Solutions Director, Ventrica, argues, should the industry even talk in these terms? Does ‘digital’ really exist?
A customer will never casually mention to their friend that they wish their bank or mobile phone provider was more digital, or that a really good piece of digital transformation is exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to renewing their annual contract. What they do say, however, is that they wish they didn’t need to contact their provider at all, or when they did, they were given the right answer quickly, or that the matter was resolved without the need for multiple levels of increasingly complex Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or various call transfers. In an ideal world, a customer simply wants to be able to get the answer to their question in as few steps as possible, in a simple, easy to understand way. Really, they just want answers.
In the ‘real’ world, digitalisation isn’t the solution that will make an organisation stand out from the crowd or encourage repeat business or orders. Digitalisation won’t make a customer share their story about their relationship with the brand in question; only a great customer service will do that. As an industry, the more we talk about ‘digital transformation’ or ‘going digital’, the more we fall into the age old trap of looking internally and letting our team structure dictate our thinking, rather than putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes and seeing things from their point of view. What will really make a difference to the customer and the experience they receive from an organisation? Which new or existing initiatives – digital or not – can actually positively contribute to the business’ strategy and future plans, driving growth and increasing revenue? The fact is, using jargon the customer doesn’t care about usually means the organisation is providing a service the customer probably doesn’t care for.
That being said, the latest technology undoubtedly plays a critical role in improving the customer experience (CX) and numerous businesses have strong evidence of how it has positively contributed to their success. However, all improvements must start and end with the customer: understanding their experience, their individual journeys and touchpoints, and what they truly want from their interaction with the brand. If the organisation bypasses the wants and needs of their customers in a rush to ‘go digital’, they run the risk of misunderstanding or worse, ignoring something really important to them, in favour of deploying the latest piece of technology to show competitors their digital credentials.
The industry’s thinking needs to change. Doesn’t a well thought through chatbot that enhances the CX fall into the bucket of ‘CX transformation’ rather than ‘digital transformation’? Again, the customer won’t be saying to their friends that they had a great digital experience; they will be saying simply they had a great experience – so isn’t that where the focus should be? If the customer doesn’t use the ‘D word’, should we? Shouldn’t we focus on the customer and seek to enhance their experience, rather than trying to label the improvement with the latest trend?