Digital Era Redefines Voice of the Customer



Customer experience can no longer be managed just from the front lines. Thanks to the digital era, it now needs a far-reaching strategy that seeks involvement from all departments, even those that are not customer facing. The future is clear – we need to innovate and reimagine our interaction with customers.

The digital customer has a new persona – one that demands 24x7 availability across the physical and digital world. Added to this, the explosion of communication touch points has brought down the brick walls separating the customer from the organization. As a result, the voice of the customer needs to be heard deeper in the enterprise, and we need to re-think how to navigate his or her experience in a hyper connected environment.

To achieve this, companies need to do two things – transform all departments and functions to take on a more customer centric view; and have access to insights that will help each function understand how it impacts a customers’ changing views and requirements.

As businesses reimagine their work models and develop a digital workforce, what we also need is a simple five-point mandate that will pull together a digital transformation strategy. A good plan will deliver on the five aspects below:

  1. Leverages technology competitively and intuitively
  2. Helps the company deliver both new and existing services more conveniently
  3. Creates possibilities for exploring new business models and revenue opportunities
  4. Offers a clear path for integrating disparate data sources (structured, semi-structured and unstructured data) to build a reimagined picture of the customer
  5. All departments, both customer facing and support are able to define how they impact the customer experience

One driving question dominating the customer landscape is about how companies can engage early enough and meaningfully so, to build interest and loyalty.

The truth is that with existing tools, we are still only able to track the final 20% of the customer journey leading up to product or service purchase. In most cases, we continue to miss out on the preceding 80% of the cycle during which the decision to engage with a particular brand or company itself is shaped. If we want to be successful, we need to be able to reach the customer in the initial 20% of the purchase lifecycle.

This is where customer strategy needs to be if it has to add value to the business. By focusing on delivering insights, data and predictive analysis, it can help the business re-focus and re-architect the CRM strategy. Combined with technology and the right business tools, both innovation and engagement can meet on common ground.

So, what are some of the actionable business steps we can take to get digital integration moving in the right direction? Here’s my quick take:

  • Invest in digital skills: The digital era needs the right digital skills to be built across the enterprise. Invest in training every department with a digital skill that is most relevant for them.
  • Use collaborative tools: A technology layer can be a perfect integration tool to enable sharing. It does not require complexity. Just simplicity, thought and collaboration.
  • Introduce a Customer KPI: Set a goal for every department with a KPI that will track how their contribution helped keep customers happy.
  • Put data in the middle: Data has to be right in the centre of all the action. A right data strategy is one that delivers insight and intelligence that can be actionable, even in a simple way.
  • Take out complexity: We all love theories and plans. But don’t invite complexity because it makes things look good. Simple is still is fashion.
  • Appoint an engagement analyst: Appoint a champion who will work as a bridge between departments and technology to feed knowledge, raise flags and funnel ideas.
  • Mobilize information: Any information is good as long as it flows. Find ways to spread it across departments. Share customer learning and document success stories.
  • Build a human face: Employees best understand strategy when it takes a human approach. Make the effort to link it to emotions like satisfaction and gratification.
  • Standardize customer experience: You have to standardize the customer experience across departments. Having a proactive marketing team leading from the front and a slow-moving manufacturing or logistics department crawling at the back does not help.

In conclusion, it is with little doubt that companies may be currently looking at Digital Integration as a white elephant in their office. We can either choose to stare at it and lose space and time; Or opt to view this as an opportunity to learn something new and different. It’s in the hands of every business to decide how far their digital future will take them.

This article was first published as a guest column in the Gulf News. The writer is the Technology Editor and ROI Strategist at Dubai-based CXO Strategies. She can be contacted via twitter @CXOConnectME

Kavitha Rajasekhar