"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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