The Digital Transformation & Customer Experience Feedback Loop
Your digital success has a lot to do with your customers. After all, they’re the ones driving your business and supporting (or rejecting) whatever initiatives and improvements you put in place.
But what, exactly, do your customers have to do with your digital transformation?
Digital transformation is the vehicle for a better customer experience. It enables your company to have processes that are faster, cheaper, and just plain better, and those processes-both internal and forward-facing-should directly improve the customer’s experience when doing business with you.
If your customer can’t feel the positive effects of your digital transformation, something’s wrong.
With the right digital technologies, legacy companies have the opportunity shift into entirely different business models that streamline procedures and optimize-or even automate-the customer experience so both they, and you, benefit from the improvement.
In this article, I’ll share the best ways to integrate your customer into your digital transformation strategy so everyone wins. I’ll dive into the best ways to refocus on your customer in the long-term so you can consistently serve them at the highest level-no matter what digital advancement occurs over time. I’ll also reveal a customer development strategy that many tech start-ups have deployed with great success, and I’ll break down how any organization at any stage can benefit from a similar strategy. Finally, I’ll explain the importance of maintaining an ongoing relationship with your customer, in a different way than you are doing now.
Let’s get started.
Open Lines of Customer Communication
How will you know if your digital transformation is working, or where to even start? Don’t worry, your customers can tell you-if you let them.
The best way to gauge receptivity to your increasing digital capability to collect feedback, track orders and monitor retention.
Digital transformation, at its core, is to serve your customers better. Sure, an increased digital capability skyrockets productivity, efficiency, and optimization within your organization-and it keeps you relevant in an ever-increasing digital world-but ultimately all of that is so you can make life easier for your customers so they get what they want and keep coming back. Your customers are what keep your organization thriving, and your organization is what offers your customers a solution they need.
It would be a disservice not to use the latest and greatest digital tools and strategies to keep your customers-and keep them coming back. In fact, it would throw quite the monkey wrench in the digital transformation and customer experience feedback loop.
If your digital transformation doesn’t lead to a long-term and sustainable digital capability, your customer’s experience will suffer, and if your customer’s experience is sub-par, it can be due to a stunted digital transformation (which is likely one that never built a lasting capability to begin with).
As you go through a digital transformation, it’s important to have a deep awareness of your customer’s experience throughout the process-and gaining this knowledge is not as hard as you’d think.
To start, open lines of communication with your customers. This can take the form of feedback surveys, quarterly reviews, or even in-person meetings so you can get a better understanding of what they need and what would improve their experience when getting it. It is critical to do this as you simultaneously grow and improve your business through digital since those very improvements will be impacted by the feedback from your customers.
Some questions to ask your customers may include:
What are your current pain points, obstacles, and frustrations?
What opportunities are you most excited about this year/quarter/month?
What are your strengths, and how do you plan to leverage them?
How can we do more for you?
How can we remove your obstacles?
How can we help you take advantage of your opportunities?
How can we leverage each other’s strengths to make this year/quarter/month your best?
Stay in touch with your customers and record their answers so you can compare their responses over time. See how their responses shift through your digital transformation to glean insight on what’s working and what isn’t.
Get Real About Your Customer Focus
Every organization can take measures to become more customer-focused. To do so, reflect on your customer’s business or life, and how your product or service supports it. How does their business operate, and where does your support fit in? If selling directly to a consumer, who is that person and what are their deepest desires? What are they trying to accomplish and why?
You’d be surprised to know how many organizations have lost touch with their customers. They see their customers as numbers and potential upsells instead of as people with a problem that needs solving and a desire to reach a specified outcome.
They know a lot about what their customer buys, and on what pattern. But they’ve lost track of Why.
And that negative impact goes both ways. As a result of their disconnect, their customers see their product or service as nothing more than a commodity. There’s no loyalty, no brand support, and no future as soon as something remotely better (or even just a shiny promotion)enters the market.
To prevent this from happening to you, you need to become obsessed with your customers.
Rather than feeling frustrated by them or their actions (or inaction), strive to learn more and understand why they are the way they are and what they really need.
PT Barnum said, “Comfort is the enemy of progress,” and I believe complacency is the enemy of digital transformation and upward progress when it comes to the customer experience.
So, don’t get complacent by mistakenly thinking you are familiar with everything you need to know to best serve your customer. Instead, get regular, measurable feedback and consult with your customers so you can build a digital capability around what they need most.
Leverage Strategies from the Tech World
Many tech start-ups deploy a strategy that helps them develop a product that is successful right off the bat. How do they do it?
It’s simple: They ask their customer.
This methodology is one core part of the Lean Startup methodology, and it’s called Customer Development.
Customer Development is when you essentially develop your customer base by first having a hypothesis about your business model-who your customer is, what they want, what channels they use, pricing, retention, etc.-then you go out, test it, collect data, and prove your hypothesis-or adjust it based on your research. Sound familiar? It’s basically the scientific method adjusted for business use!
The premise here is that the answers you need are outside your organization, and to find them you must communicate with the market.
With that data, you’ll have empirical research backing your decisions and supporting your digital transformation.
If you are skeptical about taking Silicon Valley practices into your mature organization-there are variants of this approach found in Design Thinking and Voice-of-the-Customer methodologies.
It doesn’t much matter what you call it, or how you do it in detail–it just matters that you get Customer feedback early on your digital initiatives–while it is still cheap to check and adjust.
As you move through your digital transformation, keep your customers top-of-mind. Communicate with them regularly and use the latest strategies to objectively determine exactly what they need. Their feedback is what will propel your organization forward-and your organization’s digital advancements are what will attract new customers and keep existing ones. By understanding and mastering this feedback loop, you will crack the code on your digital transformation strategy and become a force in your marketplace.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your digital journey, contact us here to schedule a free consultation. During this hassle-free consultation, we’ll assess where you are and where you need to be to stay ahead of your market during this rapid-paced digital age.
If you want to find out more about how your customer is thinking, try out our Customer Growth Audit tool. It's free to try.