In this guest post, Jonathan Holcombe (featured image), head of digital strategy at Switch, says too many businesses pour money into information communication technologies (ICT) projects without taking their customers into account…
Is digital transformation high on the agenda in your organisation? If you answered in the affirmative, join the club. Around Australia, enterprises across all industries have amped up their investment in initiatives and upgrades aimed at making their operations more efficient, responsive and customer focused.
Local organisations are forecast to drop a record $117.2 billion on IT equipment and initiatives in the current calendar year, according to Gartner.
Heavy investment in enterprise applications and infrastructure software is expected to be driven by digital business programs, such as supply chain optimisation and experiential consumer experience (CX) initiatives.
Concentrating on customer experience
The latter have become a key focus, for enterprises of all stripes and sizes. Broadly defined as the impression customers form of a brand or business across the entire customer journey, CX is very often the key – and only – differentiator between competing suppliers in a mature or commodity market.
Using personalisation and empathy to demonstrate a deep understanding of customers – their needs, wants, aspirations and pain points – has helped local brands such as Afterpay and First Choice Liquor win spots on the list of Top 10 CX Brands in Australia several years running. More importantly, it’s enabled them to build market share and a solid base of loyal, repeat buyers.
In today’s times, organisations that aren’t laser focused on doing the same risk losing out to more nimble competitors which are able to anticipate and respond to customer needs with superlative service, whenever and however they make contact.
Putting customers at the heart of the planning process
Investing in technology and digital infrastructure – think customer facing web sites, portals and CX automation software – is the obvious course of action for medium sized and enterprise businesses looking to gain an edge by getting closer to their customers.
But technology alone can’t create experiences that surprise and delight. It’s an enabler, not an end in itself, and organisations that fail to realise this run the risk of investing in ‘tech for tech’s sake’, or of implementing digital solutions so generic that they meet the needs of no one.
A smarter place to start is by discarding any assumptions your organisation may have previously made around what customers want and need, and mapping what’s known as the ‘aspirational customer journey’. In simple terms, that means outlining the way customers would engage with your firm, and vice versa, were operational obstacles and financial and technological constraints able to be removed at a stroke.
Repeat the exercise, only this time capturing the customer journey, or journeys, as they currently exist. The gap between the two will represent your opportunity to optimise and improve your digital modus operandi and your interactions with customers.
Weighing the benefits
But closing that gap between the ideal and the actual only makes sense if doing so is aligned with your key organisational objectives, be they increasing your turnover, upping your earn from high value customer segments or establishing new revenue streams.
Knowing exactly what you’re doing and why is the key to ensuring your proposed digital initiatives deliver the results and returns you’re seeking.
If you’re a large, well-resourced organisation whose digital transformation journey is already well advanced, you’ll likely have specialist personnel on board who can spearhead this strategising and planning exercise.
In the absence of those in-house skills, it can make sense to work with a customer journey planning partner that has experience balancing the demands and requirements of customers and business and technology stakeholders; no easy exercise when you’re on the inside, looking out.
Creating a foundation for success
In today’s times, customer experience is a key determinant of commercial success. As businesses and consumers continue to pivot to digital, crafting personalised, responsive interactions is critical. Organisations that fail to do so will almost certainly lose ground to competitors that are more willing and able to put customers front and centre.
Creating a roadmap that will take you where you need to go begins with customer journey planning and, as Australia’s economy continues to rebound and grow, there’s never been a better time to get started.
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