‘Digital is the new normal’ has been the catchphrase for years now. But the COVID-19 outbreak has confronted us with an uneasy fact: in reality, our customer relationship and work processes are not as digitised as we thought. Do you feel the urgency for a digital upgrade? A tip: don’t forget your brand experience.
Shall we take Apple as an example, for a change? The doors of all Apple Stores were closed even before the government enforced it as a measure to contain the coronavirus. Which didn’t prevent them from launching both the new iPad Pro and the iPhone SE, in the meantime. No standstill at Cupertino. Rather ‘business as usual’. Because almost everything can be managed online. And that’s no surprise because it’s their vision of the role of the Apple Stores: to offer a live experience of the brand and its product range. Not as a place to sell. Online, everything keeps on going, even in corona times.
For most of the companies, things went completely different. All of a sudden, they had to find creative solutions to run their business online. And to their surprise, they found that most of their clients are more digital-savvy than they imagined. This rude wake-up call pushed digitalisation on top of the agenda. Market research from Ipsos for Tijd Connect and KBC, shows that 72% of entrepreneurs are now convinced that this crisis will lead to more innovation. And 43% is even questioning their current business model.
In need of a vision
Are we heading for a recession? Nobody knows for sure. The latest figures show an alarming drop and outlooks are concerning. But there’s also hope that we’ve seen the light and that we’ll favour a more sustainable approach. Nonetheless, the focus on short term results is higher than ever. While digitisation needs a vision with a well-defined long term brand and business strategy. So you will need a clear direction, beginning with a few quick wins on the path towards your goal.
Put customers first. Not technology.
Alright, you need a clear vision for your company and your brand. But how do you translate it to the customer level? Because it’s not only about communication, it’s just as well about the service and the general experience you offer your customers. Customer experience and communication are intertwined and reinforce each other. This asks for deep consumer insights and an empathic approach. Your vision, combined with attention to the customer experience, needs to be the guiding principle. Not technology. It’s only there to facilitate.
Less of the same, please
Imagine we all go to work with our customer journeys. Looking for ways to satisfy our customer’s needs. Will we all end up with one and the same ideal journey? Isn’t every brand different? Delhaize, for example, is focusing on good food and a balanced diet. Colruyt, on the other hand, is favouring price. Telenet chooses to give technology a human face. This vision leads to other choices and another type of communication as well as a differentiating service and customer experience. Omnichannel by definition, online as well as offline. It’s the all-over experience that makes the difference. And as contradictory as it sounds, by being too preoccupied with the client, we often forget what the brand stands for in terms of customer experience.
A sustainable digital ecosystem
In reality, the current digital landscape in most companies is the result of organic growth. Here a site, there an app and yet another tool somewhere else. Mostly with dispersed ownership, businesswise and technically speaking. Sounds familiar? Then it’s time to address your digital strategy and to bring it in line with your business and brand vision. It should result in a sustainable digital ecosystem, able to integrate existing and new touchpoints for all stakeholders. Preferably with an open architecture for the back office as well as the front office.
The organisation needs to follow
It’s pushing an open door, but not only the technology has to comply, the whole organisation needs to follow. A different customer experience leads to new roles. Repetitive tasks are automated, which creates more time for advice and assistance, which in turn leads to more satisfaction.
That takes us back to where we came from: Apple. Imagine how great it must feel to be free of the pressure to sell things and to be able to concentrate on giving the best advice. And think about the brand experience it creates. What’s your guess?