The 6 Pillars of Digital Transformation To Improve Customer Experience

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"Digital innovation is as much about technology as it is about people." (Brian Solis)

In the past decade, business and society have undergone a whirlwind of changes. A digital disruption, in fact, guided by technology. The Internet and the smartphone have brought the entire world in our hands, forcing the transformation of markets, identities, and companies.

Every major paradigm shift in human history is strictly linked to a technological progress (just think about the wheel, the printing press, the steam engine). We are now witnesses of a similar evolution, facing what analysts have called Digital Transformation.

Submerged in an ever-connected ecosystem, customers and brands move towards the dematerialization of the world as we know it. Physical and digital worlds collide and melt into a new ground of experience, where information is immediately accessible.

Businesses, governments and organizations are being challenged to embrace the latest digital technologies to improve sustainability and provide engaging experiences. To reach customers and provide products and services anywhere, anytime, on any device.

Digital transformation means different things to different people, but one thing is for sure: mobile devices and social media have created a layer across our world, revolutionizing companies, products and customers forever.

Whatever definition you prefer or adopt, you need to make sure that your approach to building and integrating digital customer experiences evolves as digital trends evolve. One single technology might change your destiny and pave the way to success.

Here lies the secret to overcome the challenge of this new era full of threats and opportunities: start by understanding the rules of the new world, then review the customer journey your clients go through, and realign business model and marketing strategy to effectively engage your digital customers.

In such a complex scenario, if you don’t have a process, any discussion about digital transformation remains just that, a plain talk. While investing in new technologies (social media, cloud, big data, virtual reality just to name a few) is critical, it is not enough to ensure that you truly implement a digital mind shift.

Increasing investments doesn’t itself equate real change, when there is no deep evolution in company vision, brand identity, employee engagement and infrastructure.

Now that the smartphone has - finally - become the first reference screen, digital disruption implies thinking and acting mobile first. We see three great challenges here:

  • Change company culture and routines;
  • Invest time and money in new tools, processes and people;
  • Rebuild the digital customer experience from scratch.

Expectations are higher than ever, engagement is even more difficult and too many marketers struggle to connect with customers and create enduring relationships.

The first step to build a proper improvement path is to put digital customers where they ask to be: at the very core of your strategy. Once you understand that, you are ready to learn the 6 pillars of transformation to improve customer experience.

GENERATION C

Since we have entered the Age of the Customer, traditional customers have been replaced by digital customers. They are connected, empowered and demanding. The smartphone is their way to access the Internet and social media the primary source of information. There is no marketing strategy for the Generation C without innovative technologies and social relations. Map your digital customer journey and make sure to create a proper experience to add value and earn their trust.

MOBILE SHIFT

As Google recently stated in an eye-opening study, "what used to be our predictable, daily sessions online have been replaced by many fragmented interactions that now occur instantaneously. There are hundreds of these moments every day" and they decide the success/failure of your mobile engagement strategy. Context-aware content, multiple touchpoints and personalization become critical to reach your clients mobile-first.

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY

Innovation is the life-blood any customer-centric company. The reason is very simple: customer behaviors usually evolve faster than companies. The ability to respond as quickly as possible is what makes the difference between winning brands and average brands. Connected people crave new experiences: smartphone, Internet of Things, wearable technology, smartwatch, mobile payments and so on.

BRAND PERSONA

What makes a memorable brand? Products, tradition, innovation, identity? Your brand is valued not only for what it gives (products, services) but also - and above all - for what it is: intangible meanings and archetypes. Great storytelling is the foundation of engagement and loyalty. Know your true why; master your story; shape a narrative involving story, image, identity and people; build on it your content marketing and digital strategy.

PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCE

Given the previous pillars, it is easy to see why personalization is the ultimate goal that all companies should aim to achieve. An amazing shopping experience, specially in the retail industry, is what converts desires into needs. If you want to produce a sincere emotional response in customers/prospects, start by customizing your marketing to match their interests, tailoring communications based on customers’ known preferences and desires.

BIG DATA MARKETING

The key to a successful transformation is the deep awareness of the importance of data in the planning and execution of a strategy. You are now able to collect meaningful information; you just need to learn how to convert data into actionable insights and prioritize improvements. Track and measure your results, to extract reliable strategies from numbers and statistics (i.e. using an analytics dashboard).

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy with the latest trends and advancements of digital customer experience.

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To help you provide a strategic advantage to your organization, Neosperience has crafted the first DCX 7-Steps Checklist, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. Download the free guide here:

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5 Key Takeaways From 2015 Internet Trends Report

Nothing beats a great report when you need to understand concisely where we’re going. When it comes to technology, a major choice has always been The Internet Trends report by Mary Meeker, one of those Internet oracles you'd better take seriously.

The 2015 Internet Trends arrives 20 years after the inaugural report, published in 1995. Since the first release, the scenario has changed so much that you can now hardly remember the world before the Internet.

Let’s start with one single eye-opening fact: back in 1995, there were 35 million Internet users globally, with a penetration stuck at 0.6% of the population. In 2015, connected people have reached 2.8 billion; that means 39% of worldwide population is now online, at home and on mobile devices.

When the Internet story started, there probably wasn't a single person - except for sci-fi writers and dreamers - who could have predicted how this single technology would disrupt how we communicate and how companies build their customer experience. Connectivity constantly reshapes our daily lives, and almost every human being is influenced by it, in one way or another.

The 196-slides deck by Mary Meeker, partner at venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers, has the great quality of delivering an overview of most pitfalls and opportunities that will guide the evolution of markets - and digital marketing strategies, consequently.

  • In 1995, only 1% of the world population used mobile phones. In 2014, that number has reached 73%, with a 40% penetration of smartphones.
  • The Internet has opened a whole new business: the market cap of the top 15 Internet companies is now $2.4 trillion; 20 years ago it was roughly $16.8 billion.
  • 51% of users come now from Asia, 23% from China; traditional markets fall behind, with Europe at 19% and the USA at 10%.
  • Today, the USA still have 11 of the world’s top 20 companies, but Asia is rapidly growing: China is now officially a tech giant with 6 companies, followed by Japan (2) and Korea (1).

These few insightful statistics create a broad picture of a social - and business - environment, shaped by innovative devices, where both people and objects are connected.

Point here is: the world has gone mobile. While people have embraced the change, too many companies are still slow to adapt, focusing on traditional marketing funnels rather than what really matters: the customer.

Purchase and loyalty decisions are mostly based on customer’s expectation that they can get what they want with ease and speed, wherever they are and whatever technology they are using. Clients expect that you are able to assist them across all touch points of the customer journey, on any device.

While the overall subscriptions rate starts to slow, customers now possess the whole world in their hand. Information is just one tap away. Internet and engagement walk together, a correlation reinforced by the rise of time spent on mobile devices, where customer are online 24/7.

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As users, we are re-imagining all aspects of our lives; it’s about time that businesses do the same with their strategy and approach. Here are 5 takeaways from the 2015 Internet Trends Report that you can use to improve your customer experience.

THE INTERNET, REINVENTED

The Internet has reinvented the consumer and retail industry, forcing brands to re-image the way they connect with clients. Now the rise of innovative technologies and mobile devices turns the table again, encouraging a further evolution of technology and content. New frontiers are ready to be set: virtual reality, the Internet of Things, social media buying, mobile payments, real-time user generated broadcasts, messaging customer service. The Internet reinvents and gets reinvented day after day.

POWER TO MILLENNIALS

New generations mean new ways to explore the world and experience products and brands. The birth of a new generation of empowered customers is driven by the so-called Millennials. High spending and high demanding, these customers are submerged in a mobile ecosystem with totally different needs and desires. They love their smartphones, prefer visual content (Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat), and use social networks as main reference for opinions and information.

CONNECTIVITY EVOLUTION

Mobile technology brings in the need to get what you want when you want it. Patience is a virtue that empowered customers don't often pursue. The smartphone, together with other mobile devices (activity trackers, wearables, Apple Watch) and sensors, simplifies the access to just-in-time information: car directions, breaking news, events, public transportation schedule. Branded contents and services must be timely personalized too, 24/7.

THE NEW COMMERCE

Digital disruption has brought a challenge within a challenge for traditional retail companies. Worldwide competition is a whole new story; traditional commerce has been replaced by a new digital arena, paving the way to e-commerce and social media commerce. The Internet has changed how we track of our finances, how we do research, and even where and how we buy products and services. One-touch mobile payments (Apple Pay and Android Pay) will be the next step in this evolution.

INTERNET IS YOUR JOB

Technology, society and business trends are so strictly linked that it is now impossible to talk about the Internet without mentioning the deep revolution of the marketplace. Said that many of the most profitable brands are now Internet-related companies, we have also witnessed a huge transformation in the meaning of 'job'. The widespread of connectivity has favored flexibility, allowing people to use online platforms (such as Airbnb, Uber, and Etsy) to increase their income.

We search online and mobile; we buy online and mobile. We live online and mobile. What about your company?

Here’s the full 2015 Internet Trends slide-show.

The emergence of mobile devices - and the need of a mobile-firts approach - is one of the key elements of the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

Top 5 Steps to Improve Customer Experience For Millennials

Millennials

Millennials, Generation Y, Generation Me, Boomerangs: they have many names and they are among us. Call them what you want but never ever ignore them, if you want to ensure a long life for your business. It is important to understand how to adapt your strategy to their lifestyle and rules: if your customers are not millennials today, they soon will be. Very soon. Play their game and improve your customer experience, starting with mobile.

There are lots of myths and misconceptions about millennials and how they see themselves and the world around them. Analysts say they are lazy and entitled; they only care about money and success. True or false, you need to design and adapt customer experience to how the so-called boomerangs think and act. In fact, you must love them.

Why? Because researches show that those born between 1980 and 2000 are projected to have at least three times the buying power of baby boomers (also known as the children of the World War II). That means more than 200 billion dollars in annual spending just in the U.S. Money that millennials will gladly deliver to brands and products they consider truly innovative.

Truth is, price is not that important anymore. Surely it is not the main feature they look for while in the purchase process. Born and grown-up in a digital environment shaped by smartphones and disruptive devices (Apple Watch anyone?), accustomed to E-Commerce and mobile payments, they feel competent with technology, they are always up-to-date on the latest trends and ultimately give a higher value to innovation, creativity and uniqueness.

Plus, they consider the Internet - and social media above all - as a primary source of knowledge and opinion. You should never underestimate the social factor and the importance of community dynamics: millennials are quick to praise brands/products on social networks, but also very quick to criticize. And to abandon you after a bad experience, when they can’t have what they need, when they need it, easy and fast.

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(Image Source: Pew Research - Wikipedia)

Here are 5 steps you should take into account to improve customer experience for the demanding clients of the Generation Y (waiting for the next in line: Generation Z):

FOCUS ON THEIR GOALS

In the Age of the Customer, it's not so very important what's your business goal. Even more with millennials, the key to succeed and reach the best results is to put customers at the core of your strategy, and work to realize their goals, not yours.

CRAFT A COMPLETE EXPERIENCE

With younger customers, the experience is way more important than the product itself. The fulfillment of their needs and desires passes through a complete journey, engaging and compelling across all touch points (and mobile-first).

BUILD A COMMUNITY

If there's something millennials would never live without, that is social networks. To engage with them on a deeper level, encourage customers to share their thoughts and connect with you using all channels. Be their primary reference and listen before talking.

SUPPORT PERSONALIZATION

There is a reason if millennials are also know as 'Generation Me'. It might be a myth that they are selfish, but they surely are self-confident and self-reliant. Support individuality through Me-Commerce, in the name of context-aware content and personalization.

SHARE AND PLAY

The power of games as business tools is now a fact. Customer retention and loyalty are direct consequence of your ability to engage them in a two-way conversation. Gamification is perfect to share your brand values and goals with unintrusive and compelling dynamics of objectives and reward.

Companies in the consumer products, retail and fashion, luxury & beauty industries will face - more than any other brand - the effects of this customer revolution. In this context, it's important that you embrace this demanding generation and reconsider how you build your digital experience and customer journey map to fulfill the millennial needs and wants.

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To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.

Customer Loyalty: 5 Celebrity Lessons From Lady Gaga & Co.

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What do Lady Gaga, One Direction, Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Lawrence have in common? They are A-list celebrities, yes, but this is not enough to explain their enduring success. They must have something more, because you can't become the business machine they are today based solely on talent or luck.

The answer is simple: Lady Gaga and Co. did so relying on the ability to build and nurture a community of loyal and faithful fans. In the meanwhile offering useful lessons to every company and brand willing to improve customer loyalty.

In an age where social media and digital technologies dictate the business agenda, celebrities become more than simple icons and models of behavior; they become a brand, in the true sense of this word. Fame and fortune, thus, derive not just from what celebs create - a Billboard single, a blockbuster movie, a successful book - but from what they are and the experience they build for fans.

Their community is their fortune. Numbers explain this sentence better than a thousand words. It’s not by coincidence that:

  • Lady Gaga has 67 million fans on Facebook and 45 million followers on Twitter. Ever heard about the Little Monsters?;

  • Kim Kardashian has the most followed account on Instagram, without having any recognizable talent;

  • Oprah Winfrey has become one of the richest and most powerful people in the whole world, starting from zero;

  • Taylor Swift keeps on winning award after award and is now considered the pop star fans love the most;

  • J. K. Rowling has gone from being no-one to being multi-millionaire and the “most influential woman in Britain” (Time Magazine). Her secret is Pottermore.

  • Madonna is still the scandal icon and bestselling singer all young pop star wannabes strive to emulate.

  • Angelina Jolie is the one of the highest earning and the most beloved Hollywood actress, with a net worth 120 million dollars.

You can have Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame but, if you just target success for money and celebrity, and fail to build an enduring community, you won’t go too far. A recent example: PSY, the Korean pop singer, has cracked YouTube with his 2012 hit Gangnam Style, reaching over 2 Billion views. No one before was even close to that cap. For almost a year he has been basically everywhere, but then? You can’t really say he was able to capitalize on that unexpected success.

On the contrary, Lady Gaga is the perfect case study to understand why a faithful community is necessary to guarantee success in the long term. Her latest musical efforts have not even remotely gained the critical approval and sales numbers of her first albums, and yet she is still here, loved and hated like the very first day. Because she goes way beyond her songs: she is a brand that tells a story, shares specific values and engages fans into a complex experience.

Do you see where this takes us? The entertainment business is the mirror that reflects the changes all other industries are going through: a digital transformation that leads to the Age of the Customer, where people - not brands - become the core of every digital marketing strategy. In hyper-competitive markets, the only way to grow shares and stay top of mind is to stop being self-referential and start focusing on your customers.

Of course, celebrities have absorbed this lesson long ago, and so they play their best cards to engage with fans and enhance loyalty. Using technology and innovation for this purpose: mobile devices, 3D and virtual reality, apps, widgets, wearables, branded content, social media, there’s no aim they can’t use. To say it with marketing terms, they are well-aware that “sales pass, loyalty stays”.

Entrepreneurs and marketers have a few lessons to learn from celebrities. We can sum them up in the following 5 suggestions:

  1. Share your values - every celebrity comes with different values and issues he/she cares about. Customers feel a deeper emotional connection when you share your values and build your whole strategy around them. To engage your community, be coherent, give them something to talk about and involve them into your storytelling.

  2. Understand their needs - real celebrities listen, not just talk. Lady Gaga, again, is a good example: she always makes her fans feel like rock stars. Little Monsters are the core of every communication. Start by analyzing and embracing your customers' needs, wants and desires. Put people of your community in the spotlight and make them feel special, like rock stars.

  3. Connect on personal level - the community is not the final aim of your strategy. It's just a means to get closer to every single customer. Technology evolution moves towards machine intercommunication (the Internet of Things), while clients ask for human connections: answer with a personal touch, create a sense of belonging, use social media to manage crisis and reputation issues.

  4. Make it about them - the Age of the Customers have replaced passive consumers with informed and empowered customers. This is a critical passage for your business: customer experience is more important than your brand, and the journey more critical than the product itself. Take care about clients, offer personalized content and guide them across all touch points of the customer journey.

  5. Exceed expectations - celebrities always feel the need to move their image and identity one step forward, to top fans' expectations, and then exceed them again and again. The same with your brand: don't slow down, keep on innovating and focus on the need to surprise. Don't be scared to try new solutions and always add a bit of spice to retain attention (Lady Gaga, again).

They all seem reasonable suggestions but too many companies, unfortunately, still think the old way, accounting their product or themselves as the main reason of business. Damaging, as a result, the connection with customers. Price, products and quality of service remain important, but it’s the digital customer experience that becomes the real key to succeed and become customers’ first choice.

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To help you ensure a strategic advantage to your organization, learn about the DCX 7-Steps Checklist crafted by Neosperience, with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation.