Over the past several years, we’ve seen the definition of “digital transformation” shift and change. In its simplest sense, digital transformation encompasses the conversion of offline interactions and transactions to digital experiences across the entire organization — from front-end marketing and customer care to supply chain fulfillment.
Due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a blistering acceleration of this journey since late 2019. But what this period has also revealed is that many organizations aren’t as digitally advanced as they thought. In 2021, 77% of SMEs in Malaysia remain stagnant at the basic digitalization stage, lacking quick and reliable access to online resources and information.
The pandemic left many questioning whether they actually practiced what they preached. Brands with various digital transformation programs invested in digital technology and hired chief digital officers or heads of digital transformation. They started establishing points of presence and experience as well as developing centers of excellence built around digital transformation. But few brands could actually convert these practices into tangible channels that would deliver on investment returns.
Following the shockwaves of the various lockdowns, there’s been a huge market shift not only in digital transformation interest but also in perseverance and commitment to the point of an actual order. Organizations are finally starting to equip the entire company with the tools they need to succeed across the three core pillars: people, process, and technology.
Building trust to inspire long-lasting loyalty
The pendulum swing caused by COVID also exposed the key notion of loyalty — chiefly, how easy it is for B2C and B2B customers to leave a brand behind and take their business elsewhere.
Loyalty is ultimately built on trust. Adobe’s APAC Trust Report 2022 shows that 66% of consumers will never give a brand their business once their trust is broken. Data governance failure is an example. The Trust Report found that 68% of consumers will stop purchasing from brands if they use customer data without permission while 67% will do the same if they experience a data breach. Conversely, if brands can successfully build trust with consumers, they’re rewarded with increased purchases and more positive recommendations. According to the Trust Report, APAC consumers are willing to spend an extra RM4,000 or more per annum on brands they trust.
This has left many brands questioning the best ways to digitally transform across the three core pillars of people, process, and technology — how do they make their teams more digitally adept? How do they ensure their processes flow seamlessly through their complex organizations to the end user? How do they overhaul legacy technology and databases?
A shift in mindset
An organization-wide mindset shift is clearly necessary to adopt digital transformation across the three pillars successfully. Employees of businesses must change their way of thinking when it comes to how they plan and procure.
After all, businesses are great at buying the newest piece of shiny technology. But the modern digital era now dictates that companies must first possess a true understanding of how they will integrate that technology.
They must also ensure that technology integrates into defined customer journeys, and that means having a firm grasp on where each customer should be oriented during different stages of their journey.
For example, if someone expresses interest by engaging via a website touchpoint but then has a follow-up question, how is that person directed to the right place for the right information? How do you establish the right moment to introduce a human into the equation? If they’re an existing customer, how do you deliver the right content at the right time so they can self-inform or use the right company resources to make a purchase decision and keep them engaged with the brand?
Understanding your customer needs through the digital lens
Take telecommunications, for example. It’s an incredibly competitive market, but it is a stable and fixed one. Brands compete by taking customers away from their rivals. They keep them by providing a better customer experience at an affordable rate.
Successful telco companies are currently placing huge focus on one question in particular: “Am I making it easy for my customers to interact with me?” When it comes to their mobile phones, the majority of people want to interact specifically with their provider through that device. Most don’t want to call someone or visit a physical store, and many don’t even want to chat online — they’re looking for seamless convenience in the palm of their hand.
Forward-thinking telcos are recognizing this, and they’re making changes across their people, process, and technology pillars to better meet the digital needs and expectations customers have. They’re starting at the beginning and looking at each experience point by asking, “How do we transform the right interactions and transactions into digital, and how does that link to the likelihood of retaining this customer?”
A clear foundational framework
As you’ve probably realized, the people, process, and technology equation is complex and multifaceted — it won’t ever remain static. This fluidity requires a different way of thinking. Classic organizational structures often exist in silos, but companies need to establish the right kinds of tools to help people, processes, and technology operate with a greater sense of transparency.
A seamless customer journey is all about building a clear foundational framework that helps companies deliver reliably positive experiences for the people they’re doing business with. Digital transformation is a key component of that framework.
Businesses that consistently modify their digital processes will have a competitive advantage over those that turn their focus elsewhere — and their customers will be more loyal because of it.
By Gene Bindi, Senior Managing Director, Sales, Delivery, Execution, Adobe