Being a Digital-First Business is a Team Effort


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For businesses large and small, digital is nothing new. The internet and social media have become staples in our daily lives, shaping the way we behave as consumers and professionals. Despite digital’s maturation over the last decade, many businesses are still getting the hang of creating an effective digital-first strategy for customer service. It isn’t enough to have a Twitter handle, Facebook page and chatbot functionality – these channels need to work together seamlessly to deliver an engaging omnichannel customer experience.

Delivering a true digital-first omnichannel experience is vital to staying ahead of rapidly growing customer expectations. In fact, the latest NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark found that 91 percent of customers expect seamless omnichannel service, but that only 24 percent of businesses globally give themselves an excellent rating in allowing customers to switch seamlessly between different methods of communications. The good news is that as complex as it might seem, the process doesn’t have to be painful. With a clearly outlined vision and goals, powerful digital-first experiences are well within reach.

Here’s what you need to know to get started, as well as some of the most common pitfalls to avoid:

Get Organization Leaders Invested

The benefits of getting digital-first interactions right are numerous – from cost savings and increased sales to higher customer lifetime value. But making a structural change toward customer-centricity that’s puts digital first requires more than just investing in the right tools. It calls for change of mindset, throughout your organization starting with leadership.

Think about it this way: if the C-suite is used to thinking about customer service the old-fashioned way, they may be happy with passive service that waits for inbound complaints as opposed to proactive, interactive conversations that happen across the entire digital landscape like SMS text, Facebook Messenger and Twitter .

Creating a sense of urgency around customer-centricity that’s tied to positive business outcomes can be a powerful motivator for senior leadership. In addition to persuading the C-suite with hard numbers associated with monetary benefits and positive customer experiences – like higher customer satisfaction, first-contact-resolution, and sales conversion – consider how meeting or failing to meet digital-first expectations impacts brand perception, loyalty, and willingness to recommend. The CX Transformation Benchmark found that 83 percent of customers who have exceptional experiences are more willing to recommend that company on social media, and 81 percent who have a bad customer service experience say they are very likely to switch to a competitor. With persuasive metrics and communications, executives can come to understand that customer service should no longer be regulated to a support function – it is how brands stand out and compete in the experience economy.

Adopt New Ways to Measure Success

The way that brands and customer engage has changed so much in the last few years – and therefore, so must the way we measure the outcomes. In fact, a lot of the metrics still in use today were built around technology that’s now out of date. But digital has changed customer expectations, and measurement needs to align accordingly.

First Response Time (FRT) and Average Handle Time (AHT) are the most commonly used key performance indicators (KPIs) – each emphasize how quickly an agent can move a customer through to resolution. At face value, it’s not a bad approach, as speed is important, but not at the cost of quality. Digital channels are an opportunity to create brand advocates, and build the emotional connections that drive long-term loyalty. Consider looking at KPIs like Personal Service Level (measure agent commitment to each customer) or Net Promoter Score (measure customer sentiment toward a brand). Feelings-based metrics put the emphasis on customer service quality and personalization, not just speed.

Recruit for Empathy and Train for Omnichannel

Agents are the linchpin in any customer service strategy. But finding the right staff and getting them on board can be a challenge. Empathy and good communications skills are always important attributes in a new hire, but they may not necessarily be well versed in navigating digital channels.

The best digital-first cloud customer experience platforms are simple, seamless and intuitive. The technology itself should be unified and effortless, so training can focus on communication styles and knowledge of customer demographics. Today’s digital customers, especially Millennials and Gen Z, expect certain styles of communication, so your agents need to be prepared to meet these needs. Keep agents sharp with continual training that accounts for changing customer behavior.

Meet Customers Where They Are

Customers are comfortable with digital – they live and breathe it. Brands that don’t build a strong foundation for digital customer service are ignoring one of the most significant shifts in customer behavior in a generation. Staying competitive, achieving growth and becoming truly customer-centric all hinges on being as omnichannel as your customers are – made possible with a modern, unified cloud customer experience platform.

Vit Horky
Vit Horky is Senior Director, Digital Experience at NICE inContact, a NICE company. Vit previously co-founded and served as Co-CEO of Brand Embassy, a leading provider of digital customer engagement with over 30 social, messaging, and AI-powered self-service options, which was acquired by NICE. He is also an author of the book “Customer Service in the Transhuman Age." Vit currently leads digital experience for NICE inContact, a leader in cloud contact center software with the world’s #1 cloud customer experience platform.


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