An X-obsession for change

Why should we all be ‘X’ obsessives?

Let’s level-set an emerging obsession that companies, enterprise solution vendors, consulting firms, Clevel executives and many others have with regards to everything X   ̶   namely Customer Experience (CX), User Experience (UX) and Digital Experience/Transformation (DX), and some are linking customer-centricity and culture to EX  ̶  Employee Experience.

All of these fundamentally aim to achieve same transformational thing   ̶   the X factor that makes a company the best and easiest to do business with, regardless of sector, product and the channels delivered through, so that customers keep returning and increasing their spend.

“By 2017, 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator.” Gartner[1]

Transformation is all about creating a moment for change. In companies committed to changing the way they do business, at least one of three states often needs to exist for the business to justify the cost (and possible operational disruption) of a corporate digital transformation initiative:

  • Customer retention  ̶   the lifecycle of customers has reduced and their value (share of wallet) continues to decrease
  • New customer acquisition  ̶   annual growth rates are missed and market share is falling, at a time when existing and emerging competitors are winning
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT or NPS)  ̶   is compromised across sales and service functions and channels, and is under attack on social media as customer scores and ratings fail to aggregate

The good news for a few customer-centric businesses, and yours may be one, is that these scenarios do not exist. Customer segmentation is aligned to the channels already deployed and the need for transformation is small and modernising because best practice already exists. Typically, these are companies that have always had the customer at their heart, for example, Apple, Virgin Atlantic and John Lewis.

Let’s take a look at John Lewis, the current CX/DX darlings of Forrester[2]. “Never Knowingly Undersold” has long been at the heart of the firm’s customer commitment and, in a digital omnichannel world where store, online, mobile and print all must be equal in offer and presentation, the integration of data, processes and systems must be designed with customer and user experience in mind. Of-the-moment feedback is as important as a consumer’s purchasing history if an organisation is to ensure lifetime customer value. In this respect, John Lewis commercial departments have been meticulous in working with IT to harness the old and innovate the digital.

A single view of the customer is paramount for frontline staff, sales and service to be effective, for marketing to message and for the business to predict and forecast what a customer is likely to do next. It is as important in B2B sectors as it is in B2C.

“72% of CXOs committed to digital transformation, only 15% believe they can do it.” IDG[3]

Digital transformation is big and everyone is talking about it, but with varying degrees of confidence. This may, in part, be because the business doubts IT’s ability to deliver the orchestration of services that will break out of traditional infrastructure and support services. IT needs to embrace SIAM, DevOps and agile application management, which are the components needed to leverage cloud solutions and services, utilise big data and enable digitisation.

Convergence is rife and just as confusing. Everyone wants to be a part of it, every vendor and consulting firm is converging around digitisation and beguiling decision-makers, buyers and stakeholders. CRM vendors are now CX specialists, IT Ops specialists now deliver UX and ITSM supports CX, contact centres have become the hub and Big Data is the answer.

At least convergence is bringing pressure to bear at a time when to change is to be competitive. So, let’s level-set exactly what digital transformation is   ̶   and what it is not:

  • Digital transformation is not a single departmental or workgroup idea. It is a company-wide initiative based on collaboration between business and IT leaders requiring a cultural change and cross-functional working.
  • It’s about looking at your company through the eyes and sentiments of your customers: Are you easy to do business with? Are your customers satisfied with the products, services and channels provided?
  • DX is big data and needs the technologies to extract and federate customer data sources that are critical to achieving business goals.
  • DX is not the implementation of any one solution or service. It is the strategic use   ̶   over time   ̶   of all technologies, from legacy systems that hold transactional data to agile applications that deliver innovative customer interfaces. You need to build better ways of working, to adopt innovative business models and deliver engaging new customer experiences.
  • DX may not be SaaS. Cloud is a big part of digital, but transformation could be more than that. Integration will be the core of on-premises software systems, and public, private and hybrid cloud technology and services — all enabled, managed and secured in a software-defined data centre leveraging converged and hyper-converged infrastructure.

So you see, digital transformation is not just about X solutions. Digital transformation is about helping customers to achieve business outcomes. To achieve true digital transformation, every part of the business must be plugged in to customer outcome and needs   ̶   and be ready to deliver in near real-time.

For organisations to deploy best-of-breed, first they will need to demark against the converged state of solutions and services, in particular ITSM, CEM (including CRM, Call/Contact Centre, Marketing Automation) and of course CX.

And in this X-obsession, we will not forget about the EX. Employee Experience, culturally, is the acid test for digital transformation as most workforces will be representative of every customer segment. If what you do does not delight your employees, it probably will not impress your customers.

Be obsessed!

Be obsessed about the customer and allow the cross-functional state of IT and business operations to deliver the X factor.