Digitally Transforming Customer Communication

Digitally Transforming Customer Communication
Brent Haumann, Managing Director at Striata

According to Brent Haumann, Managing Director, Striata Africa, when it comes to digital transformation, think big, start small, and scale.

The world has, undoubtedly, moved past the point where the case for digital transformation needs to be made. The vast majority of organisations, thanks in no small part to the events of the past two years, understand that if they don’t embrace digital transformation they’ll struggle to remain competitive. In fact, a 2021 report from S&P Global shows that 54% of companies have formal digital transformation initiatives in place, up from 43% in 2019 and 29% in 2016. According to Gartner, meanwhile, as many as 91% of organisations are engaged in some form of digital initiative.

But when it comes to actually embarking on a digital transformation journey, far too many organisations get bogged down in the grand vision. That is, they understand that they need to digitally transform and are aware of the benefits that come with being digitally transformed, but then attempt to “boil the ocean” resulting in analysis paralysis or execute on disparate initiatives that result in fractured experiences, or throw the kitchen sink at acquiring the next CRM platform that they believe will solve all of their problems.

In truth, there is no magic bullet. No organisation is able to fully digitally transform overnight. There is no doubt that it will take a well-coordinated approach and lots of expertise – but the trick, for any organisation, is to think big, start small, and scale.

Let’s take customer communication as an example. It is, after all, a vital pillar of digital transformation. Remember, the ultimate goal of any digital transformation initiative is to improve the customer experience (CX). You can’t hope to do that if you don’t have an engaged relationship with your customers. And you can’t build a relationship if you’re not communicating with them.

From a customer communication perspective, being fully digitally transformed means being able to take a completely automated and intelligent omnichannel approach. With this approach, customers are able to seamlessly move across channels (eg. email, chatbot, app) as they interact with the organisation while all the time receiving relevant and contextual information.

Many organisations, however, aren’t in a position to take a direct run at intelligent, consistent omnichannel communication. That’s okay and it doesn’t mean that it can’t still have this as an end goal.

What it can do instead is start with audits of its existing digital communications according to the journeys its customers take. The key here is to take your team through each step in the customer journey from the customer’s perspective. The organisation can then note where its communication is lacking and can be improved.

If necessary, an organisation can undertake this process one product, customer journey, digital channel or a combination thereof at a time. This allows the organisation to pioneer in one area (limiting the impact and risk) while building a foundation for other areas (reducing rework and inconsistencies). Once it’s undertaken the process with email, for example, it will be simpler to do so for other journeys and other channels like instant messaging, social media, and push notifications.

Once each channel, journey, and product is in an optimal place and aligned according to the broader communication plan, the organisation will effectively have multi-channel communication in place. When it’s comfortable it’s achieved that, or at least on a good path towards it, then it can start seamlessly integrating the various channels using a combination of a Customer Data Platform (CDP) and Journey Orchestration Platform to build towards intelligent, omnichannel communication.

Ongoing evolution

These are examples of small, easily scalable steps and can be mirrored across every aspect of the digital transformation journey. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that it’s the most sensible approach to take.

After all, organisations that take a big bang approach to digital transformation can end up in CX debt, with siloes still in place, legacy technology and thinking, solution redundancy, and inconsistent experiences.

By starting small and scaling, organisations not only avoid these issues, they also set themselves up to approach digital transformation as a process of ongoing evolution within the organisation, making them less likely to ever fall behind again in the long run.