When it comes to digital transformation, start with the customer

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

If it seems like everyone is talking about digital transformation these days, it’s with good reason. We are smack in the middle of an era like no other, characterized by exciting emerging and evolving technologies like cloud computing, mobile devices, artificial intelligence and the internet of things, all fueled by accelerating connectivity speeds. And, by taking advantage of technology to transform your business, you are motivated by outcomes like increased efficiency, greater profits and in some cases, new market opportunities. 

In parallel with this is another emerging phenomenon - the empowered consumer.  People’s expectations for companies they do business with have changed. Concerns around issues like security, privacy, transparency, corporate social responsibility, immediacy, and personalization are finding a voice and informing people’s decisions about whether or not to do business with a company. And what’s more, they’re sharing those opinions well beyond their traditional social circles at home and at the office.

Empowered and influential consumers can make or break your business. With the stakes so high, doesn’t it make sense that you put the customer at the center of your digital transformation strategy? 

Read your customers’ minds with social listening

Fortunately, it’s not that hard to find out what’s on customers’ minds. Technology and tools have empowered customers to communicate more easily and frequently than ever before. Well over half of the world is online where they’re spending an average of almost 7 hours every day. A portion of that time is spent communicating feedback (both prompted and unprompted) on the brands they encounter and care about, whether through writing reviews, completing surveys, or sharing opinions and experiences on social media platforms like Twitter.  

On Twitter, people share hundreds of millions of Tweets every day. And, at every stage of the customer journey, they are signalling satisfaction, concerns, frictions, and conflicts through their posts. They are not only expressing how they feel but why they feel that way. And, thanks to social listening tools, you can easily tap into these conversations, uncovering insights in real-time as well as historical patterns. When combined with other more traditional data from sources like surveys, focus groups or research, you can come closer than ever to knowing your customers on a deeper level and understanding their wants, needs and concerns. 

Examples of digital transformation with unintended consequences

Consider some of the unintended consequences of digital transformation. In the case of US restaurant chain Shake Shack, they piloted a cashier-less, cash-free location. The self-serve kiosks promised to streamline customer service while reducing operating expenses. Unfortunately, the initiative was abandoned after 6 months. Why? It turns out Shake Shack customers like to customize their orders and the new human-free system didn’t permit this flexibility. And, believe it or not, many people still want to pay with cash. Could a deeper understanding of their customers have better set up this digital transformation initiative for success? 

Digital transformation in banking is another interesting example. Most of us have embraced the flexibility of online banking yet this transformation is still fraught with challenges. According to recent research from J.D. Power, 28% of US retail bank customers are now digital-only, but they are the least satisfied among all customer segments examined in the study. Digital-only experiences are not living up to customer expectations in the areas of communication and advice; products and fees; and new account opening. Could banks be better equipped to tackle these challenges with a deeper understanding of their digital customers?

Digital transformation strategy development: customers are key

Whether it’s introducing automation or AI, shifting from bricks and mortar to digital, moving to the cloud or changing backend infrastructure, companies need to put customers at the center of their digital transformation strategy. Get it right and you will be the beneficiary of everything promised by digital transformation, including happier customers and lasting brand loyalty. Get it wrong and you risk the wrath of the empowered customer.

Your customers are talking. Are you ready to start listening? Get inspired at data.twitter.com with case studies that illustrate the power of social media listening and check out a list of Twitter Official Partners.

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