5 ways to propel customer digital transformation

Customer digital transformation: people walking outside against a yellow backdrop

One of the great promises of digital transformation is its ability to vastly enhance the customer experience. By empowering your workers with the tools and information to deliver extraordinary customer service, you create increased value for your customers and your business.

However, driving customer digital transformation requires a shift in mindset and approach. In working with ServiceNow customers throughout the Asia-Pacific region, I’ve been privileged to be part of successful transformations. I’ve also seen what doesn’t work. Here are five insights I’ve gained:

1. Create a partnership between the business and IT

A customer service transformation initiative isn’t an IT project. Although technology powers transformation, the emphasis is squarely on customer outcomes. That means the business and IT must work together.

When IT is the sole sponsor, transformation typically focuses on IT drivers such as cost reduction and, ultimately, devolves into a technology upgrade project rather than something that enhances the customer experience.

On the other hand, business owners are keenly focused on customer outcomes, but they typically don’t understand technology. The absence of an active partnership between the business and IT can lead to impractical strategies from a technical perspective.

2. Rely on your front lines

As humans, we’re adept at creating hypotheses based on limited facts. That doesn’t mean these hypotheses are correct. I’ve seen organizations design transformation strategies based on a perceived customer problem and then go off track because they don’t really understand the problem.

To avoid this, talk to your front-line staff. They can tell you in a heartbeat what frustrates customers. Then validate that feedback by shadowing workers as they engage with customers. Having an impartial observer see what’s happening can help you avoid biased perceptions and get a fact-based view.

Customer digital transformation needs to be an iterative process. There’s absolutely no point in gathering requirements and showing up six months or a year later with a solution.

3. Avoid starting with the existing process

We’re used to process automation and optimization projects that start with existing processes. It’s in our DNA—and it’s a perfectly valid approach to streamlining processes. It helps us identify bottlenecks, failure points, and steps that machines can easily perform.

However, that isn’t the goal here. Customer-centric transformation isn’t about rebuilding existing processes. The starting point is the customer experience you want to deliver. You’re unlikely to achieve the customer outcomes you want if you’re constrained by what you have today.

4. Adopt agile methodologies

Customer digital transformation needs to be an iterative process. There’s absolutely no point in gathering requirements and showing up six months or a year later with a solution that may or may not generate positive outcomes for customers.

Instead, break down your transformation program into manageable chunks. Implement them step by step and assess the value each delivers as you introduce it. This will allow you to make course corrections, uncover new opportunities to enhance the customer experience, and realize fast time to value.

5. Measure customer and business value

It’s important to focus on traditional operational key performance indicators (KPIs) related to functionality, security, and stability. But you also need to measure the customer experience and benefits you’re providing to your business. If you don’t, you miss the point.

Keep in mind you need to look at this value through different lenses. Consider a customer following up on a package that hasn’t arrived. From the perspective of the logistics company, the most important thing may be the productivity of its field service agents—how many calls they can get through.

The customer, however, doesn’t want to have to make a call. They’d prefer to simply click an option that says, “Where’s my package?” and get a response with tracking details and estimated time of arrival. That’s how transformation happens, by thinking differently and focusing on the outcome.

Deliver superior outcomes, achieve what you want faster, and stay on course for continued customer success by following this five-step approach to customer-centric digital transformation.

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