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Digital Strategy May 14, 2020

The Foundations to Flourish in a Fully Digital Economy

4 min read

Few things expose our frailties like adversity. The social and economic times we find ourselves thrust into today are certainly adverse. But, as it feels like we’ve known since before Benjamin Franklin said it, in adversity there is opportunity. Or, at least, the potential for opportunity. The tricky thing, however, is that often turning adversity into opportunity requires solid foundations.

With respect to customer experience in the aforementioned adversity we find ourselves in today, it’s very clear at this point the foundations will be laid in digital. Providing a robust customer experience across channels feels as though it is no longer a nice to have, or done when it is convenient, or only when there is a new product launch or some major announcement. As Jon Picoult puts it in his Forbes article The Inconvenient Truth About Many Customer Experience Strategies,

‘Bad things happen when a CX strategy is effectively a strategy of convenience […] customers, too, become disenchanted, as they lose confidence in whatever “customer-first” mantra the company had been propagating.’

We may agree that right now, digital customer experience has become important, but we may wonder how important, and if it will truly last.  After all, we don’t want to overreact to a current event, no matter how serious, because once it’s over, things will return to the way they were. The truth is, we don’t really have any insight into when, or if, it will be over. But what we can say with some confidence is that the current situation has changed customer behaviours. As noticed by Katryn Lundstrom in her article for Adweek, Ecommerce Explodes in April, With BOPIS More Popular Than Ever:

“Social distancing during the month of April led to huge year-over-year spikes in online shopping, with record-breaking sales logged for retail and buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) orders. […] Online pajama sales rose more than 143%, online grocery shopping is up 110%, and online alcohol sales surged 74%.

So we can see just from those (rather relatable) numbers, that consumer priorities are shifting and the way they are accessing what’s important to them is shifting. 

And those changes seem likely to be here to stay. As Zhen Jiwa, Vice President of Digital Commerce at CIBC, noted during the Adobe Canada Webinar: Engaging Customers in the Age of COVID-19,

“We’ve fundamentally seen a shift in consumer behaviour that I don’t think is going to go away. I think if you’re able to perform a lot of transactions you would typically do over the phone or through the branch network on digital in a seamless fashion, that behaviour is going to stick.” 

The question, for many businesses, is how do we continue with our core beliefs if we are facing a radical emphasis (or even a total switch) to digital? 

The answer may well be in the processes and methodologies that we use for, or to create, our digital foundation. Here at Aequilibrium we certainly have ours that have worked for our clients in the past, but so does every digital experience partner or internal digital team. The key for our times and the future, we feel, is that those processes and methodologies be, at the minimum, holistic, reliable, transparent and customer-centric. 

But, the big question remains, with so many digital customer experience platforms out there, how do we know which is best to achieve our goals? 

While that is certainly an important question, it’s one that can’t truly be answered without knowing about your specific business needs. What we can say, however, is that we strongly believe that whichever solution you choose, you choose one that is robust enough to be your one primary technology platform. That means it offers a framework to collect, assess, and analyze data in real time, personalize content easily and work with non-marketing technologies.

Here it’s helpful to think holistically and have the point of view that our digital customer experience depends on more than digital and more than the customer. We need to always consider the customer, employee and the business as a whole. Ask yourself, how can employees be empowered to achieve their best results through the digital platform and, relatedly, how can the business differentiate itself and achieve the best ROI on the digital investment? And, if you have a digital experience partner, be sure to ask them.

As Amit Ahuja, VP, business development and strategy, at Adobe says in Effectively Managing CX takes the Right Technology, People and Partners,

“It is important to remember that customer experience is much broader than just the marketing department. That’s why companies need a platform that can bring all of these touch points and their respective data points together. This is truly the only way to get full visibility of the entire customer journey and to build the much-coveted single view of the customer.”

As we’re all doing our best to navigate this difficult time, there truly are more unknowns than knowns, but we do believe, as we always have, that business should put customer experience first. Right now, and perhaps for the future as well, that customer experience certainly seems rapidly and increasingly digital. With this mind, we can hope (at least in our businesses) to turn adversity into opportunity. 

 

 

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