Digital transformation continues to be a hot topic, perhaps because there’s still many questions surrounding it: what it is, what it entails, the challenges and rewards, etc. It requires the right reasons to change and the right people to make it possible. It’s easy to understand why some have labeled it the fourth industrial revolution.
Revolution is definitely a good description. We have already witnessed digital transformation change whole industries. Many of the disruptors that changed these industries have also set new customer expectations for the customer experience. It no longer matters if your company doesn’t compete with the business they can effortlessly order a hot meal from any restaurant in town and delivered in minutes using a personalized mobile app; customers expect a similar straightforward experience from your company.
With customer experience the new competitive battleground, this makes digital transformation that much more important to undertake. So what are some of the outcomes you should expect from a customer experience perspective?
Problems solved faster
One result from this sweeping change is converting more processes from slow, manual process to digital. Customer service and the customer experience are big beneficiaries of this.
Just as whole industries have been up-ended and have introduced new business models, so too have they introduced new forms of customer service to address predicaments in the customer experience. When customers have problems, they expect a solution to be available at home or on the go at any time of day from a mobile app that recognizes them. Modern customer service management platforms help companies meet these demands, with easy-to-use personalized portals that know the customer and the products and services they own. These same platforms also offer searchable knowledge bases, automated solutions, and online communities that fulfill customers’ preference to self-serve for answers.
The telephone will still ring in the contact center for those customers preferring that channel. However, agents now also benefit from the same self-help options available to customers. A customer service management platform connected to other systems and processes also make it easier for agents to check an order status or an incorrectly processed payment without requiring them to switch from screen-to-screen to answer questions.
Internal process improvements
Undertaking a digital transformation is not limited to customer service: it is company-wide. This typically means reviewing processes and making improvements to, among other things, reduce manual processes through automation, eliminate unneeded processes and roadblocks, and improve the speed and flow of work. By inspecting and streamlining processes, companies can collaborate internally more efficiently, and using workflow ensures work isn’t lost or stalled.
The use of workflow doesn’t automatically guarantee departments will work well together. Oftentimes, one of the goals of digital transformation is to break down the work silos. Evaluating how different teams work–or don’t work–together must be part of this process. Blinders must be removed and egos checked.
From these efforts, customers benefit in two key ways. First, when departments outside customer service are working with them to address customer issues, problems get solved faster. Customers don’t face delays while customer service works through bureaucratic issues or misdirected work.
Second, and more importantly, customer issues are addressed permanently. If billing statements are going out wrong or products are arriving damaged, only finance and manufacturing, respectively, can address the reasons these issues occurred in the first place. Customer service might be able to manually adjust a customer’s bill or ship a replacement product, but those are one-time workarounds that don’t address the root cause: it’s highly likely additional customers will suffer these same experiences. Only by permanently addressing the issue is the customer experience improved.
If digital transformation means tearing down silos to ensure customer service and other departments work well together, some new technology is probably going to come into play–technology to connect teams on a single, collaborative platform. This also enables standardized, repeatable, and auditable processes driven by workflow. When this occurs, something often missing to today’s businesses suddenly becomes available: good data. And good data makes further refinements to the customer experience possible.
Do repeated calls into customer service indicate a product issue trend to investigate and address? Do repeated viewings and negative feedback on a particular knowledge base article indicate a product change is needed? When these issues and others are identified and customer service engages with other departments to address them, how efficiently and effectively are they being resolved? Are there hangups in the process or inadequate resources to quickly identify the problems and resolve them? Only through constant measurement and evaluation is additional improvement possible.
The risk of inaction
These are only a few of the benefits specific to the customer experience businesses can expect to realize from digital transformation. It not only makes improving internal processes that power the customer experience achievable but also makes ongoing improvements possible.
Digital transformation is more than a fad or buzzword; it is an imperative for any business today. Competitive forces notwithstanding, significant pressure comes from heightened customer expectations–and those expectations only continue to rise. Consequently, companies that choose not to undertake it or fail at their attempt will suffer in the short-term and may disappear entirely in the long-term.