Vice President at Innover, overseeing the Digital and Data Solutions globally.
Industries are shaped by innovation. For centuries, technology has been the key driver of definitive breakthroughs. In the early 1900s, it was Henry Ford’s assembly line. During the 1990s, it was the World Wide Web revolution. Today, it is digital transformation. This digital transformation trend has paved the way for businesses across industries to uncover previously undiscovered markets and offerings. And when it comes to an enterprise’s digital transformation journey, customer experience is one of the three key pillars, the other two being operational process and business models.
In today’s rapidly evolving market of undifferentiated products and services, customer experience (CX) is no longer limited to unilateral, one-time communications but a seamless continuum of interactions and experiences. Digitally enhanced products and services have emerged as the key component of enhancing customer experience across industries. But the extent to which digital tools can enhance customer experience is predicated on the digital maturity of the enterprise.
Enhancing CX Across Levels Of Digital Maturity
By definition, digital maturity is a measure of an organization’s digital ability or readiness. Achieving higher CX requires an intersectional involvement of personnel from across the business. No matter which stage of digital maturity an organization is in, they can still come together to maximize the customer experience with the correct technology applications and processes.
Level 1: Beginner
First-time adopters can begin by using digital to support their legacy channels. Usually, the emphasis is on experimentation and exploration, with limited user-friendly design or experience. Here, sales and services remain offline, and the company leverages the simplest digital channels. At this stage, a business leaders’ goals are to identify opportunities and form partnerships that enhance organizational capabilities.
This is best accomplished by focusing on specific customer-related problems. For example, a major specialty B2B company we work with wanted to achieve greater product visibility so it could better meet the demands of its customers. Moreover, it also wanted to streamline its manual onboarding process for suppliers in order to become more competitive and mitigate revenue loss. The company architected an omnichannel marketplace by deploying advanced cloud capabilities across its e-commerce platform using content management templates. This resulted in an increase in customer retention and an increase in sales margins across product categories.
Level 2: Intermediate
As organizations understand the strategic value of digital, they invest more intentionally. They now position digital channels as a viable alternative with greater focus on design and experience. They also begin customizing features and adopt a reactive digital approach to online sales and service with advanced digital channels. Companies also leverage their early adoptions to industrialize their capabilities and benchmark values to enhance outcomes. Here, leaders need to target focus areas associated with their customer’s specific requirements for high impact results.
For instance, a retailer, manufacturer or service provider may prioritize streamlining their order life cycle. This includes order management, purchase requests, scheduling, delivery fulfillment, surplus management and reverse logistics. Moreover, they also need to focus on after-sales service, workforce management, inventory management, customer service, along with warehousing and logistics. And all this needs to be configured for minimal schedule disruptions, even as continuous technology training and support are conducted across personnel. This is where technologies such as IoT, conversational virtual assistants, digital dashboards and robot process automation (RPA) can prove instrumental to boost productivity within a robust digital transformation process.
Level 3: Advanced
At an advanced stage, businesses need to accelerate their journey toward becoming a fully digitized enterprise, capable of offering better customer experiences and financial outcomes. Here, design and personalization take on greater importance. Companies also need to ensure that sales and services also advance their digital capabilities for a consultative and seamless experience across all channels for greater engagement. Organizations at this stage should define a customer-centric operating model with automation and analytics capabilities. The possibilities for rapid growth, at this stage, are truly endless.
For instance, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization we work with implemented a channel attribution model in order to perfect its campaigns and shrink member acquisition cost. It enabled continuous tracking, data collection and aggregation across analytics-driven models. This allowed the company to generate actionable insights that drove key business decisions. These initiatives not only enabled the firm to increase its revenue with a tiered product, but it also allowed it to offer value-added service bundles.
Level 4: Leader
As companies reach the peak of digital maturity, they begin to embody a digital DNA that allows them to have seamless cross-channel flexibility with a natural, humanistic design. They engage in personalization on an individual level while using cutting-edge tools to proactively drive sales and enhance the customer experience. At the highest stage of digital maturity, organizations can optimize multiple processes and execute continuous improvements and innovation across all operations.
At this stage, organizations begin to experiment with new technologies over and above their business-critical operations. This constant innovation uses emerging technologies within a well-implemented digital environment empowered by IoT, edge, cloud and analytics. As a result, they can explore CX-enhancing technology such as augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), digital twins and blockchain to further push boundaries for innovation across the entire enterprise ecosystem.
Customer Centricity Is Key
In every instance, the application of ever-advancing technology makes the lives of all stakeholders easier while making the customer experience almost a valued service in itself. As the market moves toward a perpetually disruptive state, organizations that continue to digitally mature their business will be able to pursue this ideal and escalate customer loyalty in the long term. After all, CX is simply the reimagination of an organization’s operating model, where the customer is at the center of the model and digital innovation is the catalyst that brings the customer and the organization closer.