Goal of digital transformation: improve customer experience

ICT leaders know that digital transformation of their business should be a high priority. However, their efforts cannot stop at automating business process just to drive new efficiencies. Customer needs must be at the center of any initiative.

A few years ago, most ICT leaders would have said that the goal is to reduce costs by automating processes. But the bar has since risen. In an environment where customers have more power than ever, digital transformation must enhance the customer experience (CX). New digital channels to sell and deliver will not pay off until core processes are flexible enough to tailor services to each customer’s unique needs.

Many large tech companies that have grown by acquisition have accumulated a mountain of hundreds even thousands of inefficient, disconnected manual and electronic customer processes. Executing a customer request for an expedited shipment may involve over 100 digital steps--even before the supply chain organization gets involved in fulfilling the order. Customer service is capable of handling basic issues but can’t address more complex, higher value customer support.

To be sure, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that manipulates data from multiple applications and triggers a response can fix some customer-related processes. For example, RPA can eliminate the need for people to update and move data between multiple back-end systems. But simply replacing human activities with digital ones is not the answer. Companies that are digitizing their businesses successfully using Digital Process Automation (DPA) are taking a balanced approach.  A key methodology is “intelligent routing,” based on information known or collected about the customer: their overall value to the business and other key criteria. Robust business rules and predictive analytics identify the front-office agent who has the specific skills to resolve complex, unanticipated customer problems—especially when it is coming from a key client.

To be sure, redefining customer-related processes also means adhering to standards, security, risk, compliance, data integrity, and a host of other considerations. Low-code tools that support business-driven prototyping and development are another component of successful transformation.

Unfortunately, ICT leaders cannot rely on corporate funding for these deeper CX-driven initiatives. Funding must be fed by savings from early stages of the transformation process. Some of the cost savings must flow to customers. System providers must be willing to share the risk and reward of the targeted business outcomes. Whatever the funding, it is imperative that customer flexibility considerations be at the center of any digital transformation.

Retaining customers and increasing share of customer wallet requires ICT leaders to verify that functional and technical requirements all focus on improving the customer experience, not simply automating processes.

Author: George Nistor Senior ICT Sales and Business Development Deutsche Telekom AG
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