Don’t treat digital in isolation  –  use it wisely . Customers will benefit and so will you

- by Ross Thornley


I have been inspired by the really rather excellent Gerry McGovern in creating this short note  – I also have stolen some statistics from Gerry’s latest post which can be found at his excellent website Thanks as ever Gerry for the inspiration.

There is a significant amount of conversation within the digital realm (although this is not exclusive) around the wider customer experience in terms of blending/aligning/understanding (delete as appropriate to you) both offline and online transactions and interactions between organisations and customers.

Obviously this conversation has been long overdue — in many cases the rather obvious fracture between on and offline experiences that customers have to endure has, for quite some time, been recognised as a huge frustration for people and opportunity for service designers — whether their experience has come from digital or the more historic ‘Business Efficiency’ departments — that I think still exist in some organisations (certainly within the public sector).

The sheer importance and criticality of digital (be this websites, apps, logistical systems even a Facebook page) for businesses of any size and the manner in which digital is integrated within people’s everyday lives (and this will only increase as ‘digital natives’ grow) the means that it cannot be treated in isolation – digital is becoming the core of every business.

Business recognise this and can spend huge amounts of revenue on a whole ream of different digital systems that all deliver fantastic ROI – right? But when procuring these tools we forget one key component….

This move to digital should not mask the way in which people behave and how they will interact with organisations online and offline (also called channels) – even if organisations are not aware that an interaction is taking place!!

This is where real opportunities for improvement and value from investments exist. On their ‘journey’ to any goal they have — be this from purchasing a pair of shoes to booking a university course and module both on and offline - people will speak to friends and family, read reviews online, check out social media and even (heaven forbid) visit a shop or an organisations own website… A stat…

“97% of customers use more than one channel when dealing with a brand, yet 76% of them feel that brands deliver a poor, disjointed, silo-based channel experience.”

Understanding true customer experience therefore means looking how each aspect of a customer’s journey can touch your business both online and offline — identifying those parts of your business that serve these ‘touchpoints’ and watching, learning and reevaluating if your business, its methods, your structure and of course, your digital strategy and solutions are supporting your customers in achieving their goals.

It is a never ending, rarely solved, ever changing challenge — but by starting to understand your customers and their behaviour, you learn how your business should support them — then you can better recognise how digital can itself support this enhanced knowledge. This increased knowledge will only improve customer service, reduce your costs and lower the risk of investing in digital solutions that may not even be needed — you really cannot afford not to and can gain a competitive advantage. Another stat…

“A 2014 Strativity Group study found that while 80% of organisations felt that customer experience was important, only 19% were making it a strategic priority.”

So, digital is not the complete answer to creating an excellent customer experience – it is an enabler for creative, efficient, modern solutions and improvements to achieve that crucial business objective.

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