What is Digital Transformation?
You can’t be online or in the office long without hearing the phrase “digital transformation.” But what is digital transformation, anyway?
Digital transformation is so much more than just digitizing processes. True digital transformation requires deeper technological orchestration. It involves a deeper understanding of the consumer and the customer journey.
While digital transformations have been a high-priority project for some time now, the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the trend. In the post-pandemic world, we’re seeing more organizations than ever take the digital leap. Those organizations that do it most successfully tend to have a strong strategy in place to inform the process. Others felt the external pressure to pivot quickly and will end up picking up the pieces of a disjointed transformation later.
Consumers have already shifted their expectations to view digital transformation as more than a nice to have. At this point, businesses that maintain a largely offline presence are rarer than ever, and consumers are finding it frustrating to navigate experiences with them.
Industries across regions experienced 20% growth in "fully digital" users in 2021, according to McKinsey.
Even historically brick-and-mortar giants such as the Home Depot and Wells Fargo are acknowledging the importance of digital transformation. They’re embracing the change and setting themselves up with the necessary infrastructure to better serve customers in a changing business environment.
Companies like Home Depot and Wells Fargo understand that digital transformation goes beyond bringing more business processes to online platforms. Transformation can also involve serving up customer experiences, and even creating culture online, that drives long-term brand loyalty.
This goes beyond technology - the decisions made in this process affect everyone in and around your organization. The way your employees work will change, and the customer experience will foundationally change as well.
For employees, automation promises the ability to create a more efficient work environment. When you empower them to automate mundane, time-consuming tasks, you’re benefitting the organization and employees too.
For customers, digital transformation creates more opportunities to interact with brands the way they prefer. Recent trends suggest that many customers now prefer to self-serve, especially in the early stages of their journey. If the right information is readily available and presented correctly, a more informed customer will interact with agents less frequently than may have been possible before transforming.
Every digital transformation is going to begin and end with the customer, and I can see that in the minds of every CEO I talk to.Marc Benioff, Chairman and Co-CEO of Salesforce
What isn’t Digital Transformation? It isn’t Digitization.
Digitizing processes and resources is a simple first step on the digital transformation journey, but it would be inaccurate to describe this one small step as a true digital transformation.
In fact, most organizations started here at least a decade ago. But digitization, while offering some conveniences to the consumer, does not allow for an end-to-end customer experience to happen online. And in 2022, this sort of end-to-end digital experience has become an expectation for most customers.
The public sector offers some great examples of the principle of digitization. While digitization made a tremendous stride forward by allowing a marriage license application to be accessed and filled out online in some states and counties, it failed to qualify as a digital transformation simple because the rest of the process happens offline, requiring additional steps. In this example, applicants may need to have a license notarized in person or mailed in to the agency via USPS—in additional to the initial digital steps they took.
COVID-19 was a catalyst for digitization in the healthcare world too, allowing for supplemental telehealth appointments. In a complex industry such as healthcare, digitizing one piece of the patient experience is no small feat.
Is your organization merely digitized? Even those that moved quickly to get online often find themselves stuck in this stage even years or decades down the road.
Taking necessary steps to digitize is empowering to customers. In the modern era, many customers demand access to brands when and where they feel that they need it. But digitization doesn’t account for the entirety of the customer journey and the reality of the largely connected life most people now live.
A full-on digital transformation starts with questions like:
How do our customers want to interact with our digital presence?
While you might feel that you have a sense for where and how your customer wants to interact with your brand, sometimes it’s best to hear it straight from them through a voice of a customer (VoC) program. As new platforms emerge and communication preferences change, best practices in the customer experience industry change along with them.
Not long ago, most customer experiences started on the phone. Now, they’re happening by text, in online chats, via email, and on social media in addition to the traditional phone call.
What new steps are involved to complete the same task in the digital world?
When you consider the analog tasks your customers must complete, you must also consider the additional steps that may be necessary to take those processes digital.
It’s not always as straightforward as it may seem. In some industries, government regulation and technology constraints can still bottleneck the processes. In these cases, you may have to consider whether fewer or additional steps become necessary. Mapping out the journeys customers are taking currently can help show where issues are popping up and help identify where the future journey will require adjustments.
What unforeseen frustrations might emerge by moving a task online?
Most people view technology as convenient and efficient. But in another sense, moving online can also offer a completely fresh set of challenges to address. Are you equipped to offer your solutions across a wide variety of devices and platforms? Can you account for the needs, backgrounds, and use cases of different user groups?
Which Business Processes are Touched by Digital Transformation?
Your entire organization can and should be impacted by digital transformation. With that said, there are some functions that have a greater need for digital transformation than others.
To name a few:
Your online presence should be viewed as your digital front door. Are your customers empowered to receive answers to their questions and have their support needs solved in the context of their digital experience?
The first step is to strategically determine the right support channels to operate. Will you offer support via phone? Text? Chatbots or social media?
Every customer has a unique set of preferences, and offering access on the right channels is a critical piece of this puzzle.
Once you have those channels established, you must also consider your escalation and level-up processes. If the front-line support doesn’t translate into a seamless handoff during the escalation process, your efforts could be all for naught. Consider how automation and digital transformation can follow you into this process as well.
Most marketing departments were among the first in their respective organizations to digitize. But in marketing, digital transformation requires properly leveraging customer data, personas, and behaviors to enhance the overall customer journey. A 360-degree customer profile can feed back into the customer support experience by offering personalized marketing messages based on the the customer lifecycle.
Stronger internal communications are made possible by digital transformation as well—especially for organizations that now find themselves operating in hybrid or remote work models. But transforming the unified communications experience should be approached delicately. If done incorrectly, taking communications digital risks adding unnecessary complications and frustration to the process.
Everything from your network strength to the tools you select should be strategically evaluated to determine the best possible approach before proceeding.
Mapping out a Successful Digital Transformation
Digital transformation doesn’t just happen. Transforming first necessitates a plan. Taking the time to map out a strategy could eliminate endless amounts of customer complaints and employee inefficiencies that would otherwise be inevitable in a hasty deployment.
At Avtex, we use two preliminary steps to get each transformation moving in the right direction:
Define Your North Star
Your North Star should both embody the brand promise and define the customer experience you seek to provide at every touchpoint with your organization. Your North Star should guide every initiative and enable the distinction between nice-to-haves and core business values.
Without having a North Star to use as a focal point, you have no way to gauge the effectiveness of your digital transformation over time.
Map Your Current Customer Journeys and Identify Opportunities for Improvement
Mapping the customer journey is another foundational step that defines all the following steps in the digital transformation process. The journey map simply plots out the different ways a customer interacts with your brand and when those touchpoints typically become relevant.
Your customer journey map may also reveal where your customers drop off or seek out a competitor’s supplemental services in place of the services you offer.
In this way, the customer journey map may even help you to identify new opportunities for growth.
Explore the full CX Improvement roadmap to see which steps Avtex can help you take next.
Digital Transformation Case Study
Many brands have already undergone a digital transformation. Even the largest players have taken the crucial steps to stay on track with the rapidly changing landscape laid in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, Edina Realty joined forces with Avtex to develop a real estate virtual assistant bot that’s revolutionary in the industry. “Emma” empowers agents by streamlining communications, improving access to information, and managing data.
This bot has transformed agent processes so that they can focus on the elements of their job that matter most. Appointment management, information access, and content delivery—all from a mobile device—have simplified and improved the agent experience from end to end.
Read the full Edina Realty case study.
Avtex’s Approach to Digital Transformation
At Avtex, our approach to digital transformation is built on decades of experience and a deep understanding of the client lifecycle. Our approach - Experience 360 - relies on four key pillars to inform the transformation experience.
Just as digital transformation requires a bird’s eye view of the entire process and how every task is integrated, so does our relationship with our clients. For this reason, we developed Experience 360 to account for client needs. Experience 360 allows us to draw on past experiences to connect seemingly isolated tasks to create one unified experience.
In this first phase of your experience working with Avtex, we consider everything from your first awareness of us to the moment you decide to move forward with us. Our goal at this time is to accurately document your goals and determine the personalized solutions that will solve for the unique challenges you’re experiencing.
At this point in your transformation journey, our first goal is to successfully onboard you and your team. Then, we’ll move into working through your projects until we reach the go-live moment.
In the enablement phase, we work with our clients on the solutions that will deliver on the business outcome goals we set together. At this time, we will design, implement, and deploy those solutions—therefore moving into the next phase of our journey.
In this phase, you’ll realize the full business value of the solutions we’ve selected and implemented. An Avtex Client Success Manager and our expert team will guide you through department or company-wide adoption and utilization of these solutions. Our ultimate goal is to ensure you achieve your outcome goals that we established in the very first phase.
In the final phase of our client lifecyle, your Client Success Manager will partner with you to ensure the full value of Avtex solutions are realized. We will work with you to optimize your results and address the new challenges you may experience as you move forward.
Ultimately, we’ll keep you apprised of CX innovations and new opportunities as they arise. If you choose to move forward with implementing another key solution, the client lifecycle begins again.
Our team of CX design and orchestration experts are ready to help you achieve a seamless digital transformation that drives long-term efficiencies and elevated performance.
Digital transformation ultimately requires a trusted partner with experience architecting the journey, and few companies can offer the suite of services and the level of expertise offered by our team here at Avtex. Before you move to transform your brand digital, get in touch with our team of experts so we can provide some insights into the journey.