There is no doubt that brands have to adjust to an increasingly digital, mobile and automated world. But for all the focus on "digital transformation" in recent years, many brands still miss the mark, investing in technology and strategies that see slow adoption, fail to drive business outcomes and do not improve the customer experience.
The key to success in the future is not simply to improve your brand's digital acumen and footprint but to do so in the right ways that serve your customers' needs and expectations. Identifying and solving your organization's digital gaps will seem daunting unless you first concentrate on your customer experience gaps.
Modern organizations often split functions into channel-based silos--a digital group is responsible for achieving digital goals measured in digital ways while a physical- or phone-oriented team is tasked and rewarded for success only in their own channel. The problem with this approach is that consumers are neither completely physical nor digital.
When a customer uses their phone from inside a retail store to check on product details or pays using a digital wallet, are they being physical or digital? When a homeowner feels cold and says "Ok Google, make it warmer," causing their Google Home and Nest devices to send more fuel to the furnace and lift the temperature, are they being physical or digital? When people play Pokemon Go, viewing the world through their phone and traveling physically to collect digital rewards, are they being physical or digital?
Too many digital transformation efforts can operate on digital islands and thus miss that consumers easily and willfully switch from physical to digital channels with ease. Consumers do not object to merging or shifting real-world and digital channels when it benefits them; they object when brands force them to switch because doing so is best for the brand.
Many brands tried to keep website customers on the site and measured success only when the customer converted online, but increasingly marketing leaders have come to realize they can be more successful by interrupting web surfers with offers of assistance via phone or by sending them to nearby stores that have the customer's desired inventory. Brands typically attempted to keep customer care callers holding on the line for a representative, but it is now routine for customers to hear hold messages that remind them of convenient digital service options at their disposal.
While the technical capability to offer these sorts of multichannel experiences were not particularly difficult, the organizational challenges were often daunting. Who gets credit for a sale that starts online and is completed offline or by phone? Contact centers are rewarded for keeping call abandon rates down, but what happens when customers accept the invitation to hang up and use Twitter, instead? These questions only arise when digital strategies and outcomes are isolated from broader measures of business or customer success.
To learn how customer experience strategies can help and direct your digital transformation, please continue reading on my Gartner blog.