Digital transformation: Maximize customer experience in 3 steps

Want to ensure that your transformation initiative is a win for both employees and customers? Consider these expert tips
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Organizations looking to improve the customer service experience have long turned to digital solutions – to great effect if done correctly. According to McKinsey, organizations that successfully leverage digital products to improve the customer experience are able to increase customer satisfaction by up to 20 percent, reduce the cost to serve by up to 40 percent, and boost conversion rates and growth by 20 percent.

However, to truly impact and improve the customer experience, organizations need to go beyond simply purchasing a product. Research from Boston Consulting Group shows that 70 percent of digital transformation efforts fail, often for reasons that have more to do with implementation than with the actual solutions themselves.

3 ways to prioritize customer experience during digital transformation

Below are three simple steps that IT and customer service leaders should take to make sure their digital transformation investment drives positive experiences for agents and customers.

1. Involve the customer service team early and often

Because agents interact with customers directly, they have a unique and clear perspective on the overall customer experience and how digital solutions can help or hinder processes.

[ Also read How to manage disruption during digital transformation. ]

Customer service leaders should give their teams – including everyone who performs work on behalf of the customer, from service agents to middle and back-office operations like fulfillment and billing – a chance to weigh in on what they need to do their job most efficiently.

Once implemented, providing training and ongoing enablement is essential. There will be a learning curve with any new technology. And it can be particularly tricky for customer service teams, who need to learn and adopt new technologies and processes that impact every corner of the organization while continuing to resolve customer requests. Affording appropriate time and training to learn the tech is a crucial step that you can’t afford to skip if you want your digital transformation to work.

Finally, provide a vehicle for continuous feedback and maintain an open line of communication with the teams using the new technology to understand how it’s working. Building a process to solicit feedback from both employees and customers is crucial to making sure that any challenges or difficulties with the implementation are addressed quickly and can be maintained over time.

2. Measure what matters most

One of the most common reasons digital transformation efforts in customer service fail is a misalignment between the technology investment and an organization’s goals and objectives. If you want your digital transformation to truly improve the customer experience, think beyond improving operational processes and focus on the factors that make a real, tangible impact on the customer and the business. At the end of the day, digital transformation should create frictionless customer and agent experiences.

One of the most common reasons digital transformation efforts in customer service fail is a misalignment between the technology investment and an organization's goals and objectives.

Success metrics must also evolve from operational to outcome-based: Has a customer made a purchase or upgrade following the customer service interaction? Did they refer new customers? Has their usage increased? These metrics focus on outcomes and tie to business objectives. It’s important to look at the overall customer experience with the products and services, not just at the customer service interaction, and to understand how that experience drives business outcomes.

[ Read next: How to measure customer experience: 3 tips ]

3. Prioritize change management

Solving a customer issue or complaint often involves more than one team and goes beyond customer service agents – from finance and fulfillment to marketing and product. If digital transformation investments change how the customer service team works, it often means there will be a ripple effect throughout the entire organization.

All teams involved in solving a customer request should have a clear understanding of how digital transformation initiatives will impact their work. Take the time to clearly communicate the new technology implementations, driving home how and why it will help the business. If you don’t manage change effectively, you risk internal roadblocks, either via intentional resistance or confusion about the purpose or particulars of new processes. This can prevent organizations from extracting the true value from digital transformation efforts.

Ultimately, digital transformation is key to success for any customer service team in 2022 and beyond. Customers expect fast and proactive service at their fingertips, at any time, and on any device. Digital transformation is the key to meeting these expectations.

If you are intentional about involving all of the teams that touch customer service, evaluating progress in a way that’s consistent with organizational goals, and deftly managing workflow shifts throughout the organization, digital transformation will open the door to a new era of connected customer experiences that build customer relationships and drive customer loyalty.

[ Discover how priorities are changing. Get the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: Maintaining momentum on digital transformation. ]

Michael Ramsey is VP of product management for ServiceNow’s Customer Workflow products, which enable organizations to create seamless customer experiences and drive fierce customer loyalty.