Google the word ‘digital’, and you will get over three billion results. It’s as if digital is the most popular fashion accessory in business today. Research any tech analyst. The top trends are digital. They speak to the fact that we are in the ‘digital era’, where everyone needs a ‘digital business’ and must act ‘digital to the core’ to prevent ‘digital vandalism’. Digital is hot and critical. But what does digital mean to a business?
Many things have changed over the last decade. We are seeing a huge increase in consumer expectations that challenge companies to build better, more functional, yet simpler digital customer experiences. As a result, we’re seeing self-solving customer service platforms, virtual assistants that help shop in-store, and body scanners in fitting rooms that recommend a perfect fit.
But these serve only to raise the bar further. So the central question is: how do companies constantly redefine desired experiences and meet or exceed their customers’ expectations? One way to look at this is with a digital customer experience continuum, a continuous improvement framework.
Can Digital Customer Experience benefit from a continuous improvement framework?
As Stephen Covey said, “We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to regularly sharpen the saw.” Companies must make conscious efforts to be relevant all the time. Technologies like predictive real-time analytics, integrated enterprise cloud, user-centric and omni-channel adaptive design, and the Internet of Things provide foundational capabilities for companies to sense, refine, and design digital customer experiences continually.
A company’s culture must combine art and science to support a great digital customer experience . The big question is, what can organizations do to encourage such experiences on a continual basis? What cultural shift is required to succeed?
“Excellence is not an act, but a habit,” Aristotle said, “and sometimes it’s the small, constructive daily habits that can make the biggest difference to us.” So, what are these habits?
- Define the purpose of your brand and share it within the organization. Make sure everyone in the company knows your purpose, including your partners and agencies. The purpose of your brand guides your actions and brings the organization together. The purpose is why the customers, the employees, and the partners care for the organization and in turn help generate brand equity and a consistent customer experience.
- Build a core team with an executive champion who will drive your continuous experience continuum. You need a dedicated team. When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible. Also, to drive change in an organization, leaders need to demonstrate commitment. Teams also need to be agile. Brainstorm and identify continuous improvements and experiences, prototype them, test them, fail quickly, learn, improve, and ensure they are implemented with the best possible execution.
- Listen to employees and make them guardians of this process. Talk to employees across departments and functions and at all levels. Create a culture of continuous feedback. Give them a sense of ownership and autonomy by making them guardians of the brand. Each team or work group should be encouraged to discuss a new experience it would like to implement or adopt in your organization. These ideas should be fed to the core continuous-experience-continuum team. Suggested ideas should be rewarded and recognized.
- Please customers. Most importantly, focus on the ones who are complaining and praising. Customers who complain are likely loyalists who have faith in the brand. They just want the product or service to work and expect the brand to act to solve the problem. The customers who praise you point out exactly what you are doing right for their situations. Listen to them early, and hear them out on social networks, forums, or key surveys. If you keep them satisfied, you can convert them to loyalists.
Interbrand’s 16th annual ranking of “the 100 most valuable global brands” shows that the leaders are those who effectively implement their own continuous experience continuums. This practical framework is not just good to have. It is a must-have strategy for enterprises that require leadership commitment.
Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, was right in his words, “Your brand is the most important investment you can make in your business.” For a more in-depth look at this topic, check out this article published by one of my colleagues: Elevated Expectations: Three Consumer Demands You Cannot Ignore.
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