Today, customers are in charge. The rapid rise in digital technologies has enabled them to know more, expect more and be a lot less loyal. They expect relevant content delivered directly to them, information at their fingertips and first-class service at all times, however or whenever they are interacting with a brand. With technology being fundamental to all our lives, disruption is inevitable and no business is immune.
While there are many business benefits to digital transformation, it is customers that are driving the change. To keep hold of the always-connected customer, businesses have no choice but to embrace technology. That means embarking upon digital transformation, changing business models and adapting offerings to put the customer first. Businesses need to proactively anticipate customer needs, create personalised content and deliver exceptional experiences. And, quite simply, there is no way to do that without technology.
How Customer Expectations are Evolving
So long as there have been businesses, there has been the potential for disruption. The industrial revolution was a prime example when manufacturing processes were turned on their heads. However, today the rate of digital change is so much faster than anything that preceded it.
Back when bricks-and-mortar business reigned supreme, customers received personal experiences by going into premises and interacting directly with people. However, as the world became more commercialised, the personal touch was diluted. Today, though, technology is changing that and enabling customers to get personalised and customised experiences in a whole new way. Today’s customers are always connected and app-native. They expect to have everything at their fingertips and receive exceptional service at all times.
As everyone becomes more and more accustomed to technology, businesses can no longer wait for customers to contact them. A reactive approach of waiting for the phone to ring simply no longer works. Companies need to reach out, build relationships and educate their customers. Instead of cold calling, social media is the order of the day. Instead of offline marketing activities, targeted data-driven marketing on digital channels is much more successful. Ultimately, to keep up with evolving customer expectations, businesses need to shift to thinking digital first.
And the rate of change shows no signs of slowing down. Artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, 5G automation and more are paving the way to further advancements. Ultimately, every business needs to find ways to deliver relevant, innovative products and services faster and more easily and with that all-important personal touch.
Why Do Businesses Need to Adapt?
The short answer is that businesses need to adapt in order to remain competitive. There is a huge shift of focus from traditional to digital strategies that aim at improving the customer experience. And, with businesses across every industry increasing their digital spending, there is a race to hold on to market share.
The problem, however, is that many businesses are being left behind with new startups coming into the market and disrupting the customer experience further. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll, propelling businesses into digital transformation faster than they had anticipated. However, while making the shift is most certainly a challenge, it also offers an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to thrive. By putting the customer first and truly understanding audience needs, companies can innovate and thrive even amongst change and challenging circumstances.
How Digital Transformation Changes Customer Interactions
Digital transformation is the integration of technology into all areas of a business and can vastly change how a business operates and the value that it delivers to its customers. Digital transformation can make several differences to customer interactions in terms of:
- Consistency – by using digital technology, you can create a consistent experience wherever your customers are. That gives you an opportunity to build brand recognition and ensure your customers know what they can expect from you.
- Reliability – digital technology is the only way to meet the always-on demands of today’s customers. By embracing digital transformation, you can ensure you are always there when and where your customers need you.
- Satisfaction – by having a customer-first approach to digital transformation, you can ensure that your business is aware of customer needs and is doing everything it can to provide solutions and leave them feeling satisfied.
- Engagement – digital technology gives you an opportunity to create something really engaging and innovative. Customers expect excellent service at all times, but if you can amaze them with something that is fun as well as practical or informative, you can take it to the next level.
More importantly, engaged customers who receive consistent and reliable experiences are more likely to buy more, try new products or services and recommend a company to their friends, families and connections. So, while it’s all about putting customers first, digital transformation, when done right, results in a more profitable business.
Getting Started with Digital Transformation
Digital transformation offers businesses a chance to understand their customers, engage with them and deliver on expectations. However, not all companies are successful in their efforts. Fortunately, if you’re just getting started with digital transformation, there is plenty you can do to help you succeed:
- Define Your Strategy – you need to know where you are, where you want to be and how you’ll get there, Try to outline the technologies you need to protect your business from disruption and the core systems and processes that will be impacted.
- Focus on Your Customers – as we’ve been discussing, now that customers are in control, you need to build experiences that will meet their demands. Customer experience is key so take the time to understand what your customers need and how you can deliver it.
- Build in Agility – while there are some things that can be predicted, there are plenty that will come as a surprise. By building in agility, you are able to scale to meet demand, embrace new technology and respond more quickly to market trends.
- Improve Experiences – we all want to feel special, so ensure that your strategy improves customer experiences by recognising individual customers, understanding them and recommending things that will make their lives better.
Have You Started Your Digital Transformation Journey?
If you haven’t started your digital transformation journey, then it is likely to be on your mind. Digital technologies can enable you to engage customers, deliver on expectations and drive business growth. However, it’s a complex project. You’ll want to look at cloud solutions, ensure your decisions are data-led and create a holistic experience for your business.
Those who will thrive in the future, will be the most innovative companies. Those that can anticipate the future needs of their digital customers and create memorable customer experiences. Those who give customers the power to interact when and how they want. In all cases, though, technology will be a crucial business enabler if your business is going to remain competitive and thrive. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start your digital transformation journey and to decide whether your customers will stay or go.