At the heart of digital transformation is a simple question: How do you deliver value to customers in a more efficient way?
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted everyone’s focus and fast-tracked certain trends. You not only need to employ technology to better serve your customers, but also need to concentrate on the best ways to do so.
Here are three things you should do during and after the pandemic to speed up your digital transformation efforts and deliver value to customers faster.
[ Get answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs: Download our digital transformation cheat sheet. ]
1. Mine data analytics to retain customers and focus budgets
We tend to think about data analytics as discerning patterns. For example, a customer bought Product X, and the analytics might show where and when the purchase was made, where the customer came from, and how popular that product is. All good information to know, but it’s too reactionary.
Upgrade to analytics platforms that give you a proactive edge. Think of how Amazon analyzes your purchasing behavior and then makes suggestions on similar items it believes you might like. This is how you proactively engage with your customers.
Especially as you collect more customer data through digital transactions during the pandemic, predictive analytics can give you a competitive edge and focus your efforts and budget on products and services with the best chance of success. Through pattern analysis, behavior analysis, and machine learning (ML), you can anticipate your customers’ expectations and take steps to meet them.
[ Will your organization thrive in 2021? Learn the four priorities top CIOs are focusing on now. Download the HBR Analytic Services report: IT Leadership in the Next Normal. ]
2. Automate away your workforce availability challenges
Many businesses rely on human processes to keep the machine going. It could be as simple as one employee talking face-to-face with a colleague about a purchase order. This is inefficiency personified.
Plus, during the pandemic the luxury of shared office space is no longer available, meaning a once-inefficient process might simply be broken. Look at the engagements you have with customers. What are the friction points associated with those engagements? How do they measure against your competitors? How have they changed since the pandemic began? Can you optimize them?
Automating traditional human roles with digital processes can help you remove many friction points that waste time or cause delays as well as overcome any workforce availability issues due to the pandemic.
Take the procurement process, for instance: A customer purchases a product. Behind the scenes, the order first goes into a sales system, which then must be verified by a person before it heads to the procurement department and finally heads to the shipping department. That’s a lot of manual handoffs.
Instead, if you build system integration into your web storefront on the back end, you can streamline the entire process, removing many of the human-to-human interactions that slow down the overall process.
This enables your employees to focus more on engagement, the customer, and how to improve those processes, making the customer experience faster and more efficient.
3. Build a team dedicated to improving processes
Digital transformation projects won’t work if you’re not thinking about the ultimate outcomes for customers. Customer experience (CX) is crucial to a business’s success, especially during COVID-19, when many customers have been forced into online appointments, transactions, and services for the first time. Consider creating a dedicated team focused solely on improvements and efficiencies in this area.
This team should consider what outcomes are most important to customers and decide how digitalization can better achieve those outcomes. With this information, they can then build out the best digital transformation roadmap.
Make sure this team understands the hurdles the pandemic presents, is knowledgeable of your current business processes, and knows how to transform them for success in the digital world.
There's no cookie-cutter solution
Your path to digital transformation depends on your customer base and your business goals and objectives. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what your organization is trying to accomplish through digital transformation and that you have key metrics in place to ensure you’re staying on task.
COVID-19 has been a call to action to accelerate these efforts. By getting more proactive with data analytics tools, automating human processes, and creating a team dedicated to improving CX, you can speed up your digital transformation efforts, ultimately enhancing the customer experience and delivering value more efficiently.
[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]