Recently, I was in need of some new end tables for my living room. I browsed multiple furniture retailers’ websites until I found the right set. While still on the website, I sent an email to the company, asking where I might go to see these tables in person. After viewing the tables and mulling my purchase further, I placed an order over the phone. Soon after my order was placed, I received an automated call with the delivery date and a three-hour delivery window. On the delivery date, I got an automated call confirming the delivery would be made within 10 minutes – and it was. The delivery man set up the tables and used a tablet to take a picture of the completed work. He handed me the tablet to digitally sign a confirmation of receipt. Finally, within 30 minutes of the delivery man leaving my home, I received an automated call asking for feedback on the delivery.
Though this story is a simple one, it highlights an example of the various business functions within a single retail company that has been influenced and modified by digital transformation.
To help understand this digital transformation, let’s be sure we are working from the same definition. At Northridge, we define digital transformation as:
“Every department and function within an organization automating processes and sharing valuable data through digital technologies and interconnecting those outputs cross-functionally to drive seamless, best-in-class customer experience and a more competitive cost and delivery model.”
Digital transformation goes beyond the concept of “going paperless,” or purchasing new technologies. It is a concept that affects the processes in which people gather information, glean insights, interact with customers, interact with other employees, create products, deliver products, and invest capital. In short, digital transformation shifts the way we interact with and interpret key data to enhance end to end processes and improve the customer experience.
End to End View of Digital Transformation
Discovery: Research, Evaluate, Acquire
Let’s take a deeper look at what it means to undergo digital transformation in each end to end process. Start by developing the customer-centric view of the journey through your organization. The customer is influenced by marketing, sales, or word-of-mouth via direct conversations, media or social conversations. As we’ve discussed in an earlier blog, Forrester research shows web-influenced sales and online purchases continue to grow over offline sales alone.
Beyond traditional methods, marketing is being done through more digital channels such as online ads, social posts, micro-sites, and video storytelling. Instead of in-person or in-store sales, consumers are browsing products on the web, answering product questions through self-service portals and purchasing through Apple Pay or PayPal. Websites are not just brochures or online catalogs – they are self-service hubs and your digital customer service agent. The more empowered and informed your customers can be, self-serving their needs through digital channels, the less reliant they are on more costly legacy channels and the more likely they are to have an improved customer experience.
All of the interactions taking place through digital channels enable organizations to gather valuable customer data – their profiles, demographics, purchasing patterns and preferences.
User Experience: Use and Renew
Digital advancements to services are creating additional opportunities to enhance the user experience – to make the consumers’ lives simpler and their use of services more effective. Instead of flagging a taxi on the street, we can order and pay for one through our phones. Instead of shopping in-store for eyeglasses, we can browse Warby Parker online and have options sent to our homes to try on. Businesses from hair salons to doctor’s offices are sending appointment reminders through text and email.
Interactions past the point of sale are equally as valuable to the firm and as important to the consumer as those in the pre-sales process. The post-sale aspects of using services and renewing services or making additional purchases are also prime for digital transformation. The ability for customers to get product support, obtain responses to inquiries and make payments in an effortless, digital manner not only enhances the customer experience and builds loyalty, but also creates opportunities to gather additional, valuable data. And we have likely all had the experience of receiving digital “suggestions” for additional purchases based on our prior purchases or patterns of searches and inquiries.
The data from these products and services we use allows organizations to gather more data about the most valuable features for customers and provides insights to necessary product and process enhancements.
Bringing the Experience Full Circle: Advocate
There is nothing like customer feedback to influence future customer purchases. Online reviews and social media feedback can make or break how a product is viewed. In a digital world, monitoring and responding to this feedback is a critical success factor.
The customer’s journey and end-to-end experience are continuously being critiqued by the customer. Is your organization on a path of digital transformation to enable critical data analytics, outstanding customer experience, and an improved cost structure?
Business leaders should consider not just how each department and functional group can become more digital, but how an end-to-end digital transformation can drive enhanced data analytics, improve the customer experience, and optimize the business cost structure.