A better customer experience is good for business.
This isn’t exactly a controversial statement. It has been accepted wisdom among business leaders for decades and hasn’t changed much during that time. It hasn’t needed to change.
The meaning of “better customer experience” certainly has changed, though. The digital transformation, what some call the “fourth industrial revolution,” has forced business leaders to update their ideas of quality CX and adapt to the new paradigm.
The most visible and urgent adaptation centers on digital CX. It focuses on the vast and growing array of new cloud-based, data-driven and data-informed tools that enable enterprises to transform and improve the customer experience at scale.
“Through an improved digital ecosystem, we can fix issues by using data to identify our customers’ needs and respond in a way that will provide the most value,” says Joe Sueper, SVP & Chief Technology Officer at Nu Skin Enterprises. “Data on its own is inert, but data paired with the right tools that can understand and communicate it in a way that meets a specific goal is transformative.”
The promise of an improved ecosystem makes it easy to understand why companies are ready to jump head first into a digital transformation. However, leveraging customer data to transform and digitize CX is only possible with the right foundation in place.
Ironically, that “foundation” is virtual. It lives in the cloud. And it’s vital for businesses that want to delight the next generation of customers to understand why it’s necessary and how to build it.
A Cloud Transformation Is an Opportunity to Get Rid of Legacy Systems That No Longer Work
Time was when big companies’ ability to build and scale proprietary intranets — data-rich networks disconnected from the World Wide Web — was an inherent advantage. These data silos were more secure in the early days of the Web (and before) and could be customized to their users’ specifications to an extent that smaller companies with limited resources simply couldn’t afford to achieve.
But where such networks and the clunky “legacy” systems that underpinned them once provided a lift, they serve only as a dragging force today. Even the biggest companies now depend on cloud-based digital architecture to deliver data where and when it’s needed without the red tape (not to mention usability issues) of old school.
“Unfortunately, many businesses today are hard-coded in technology investments of the past: legacy systems – containing the data that they need to make decisions today and drive insights,” says Prashant Kelker of Information Services Group.
The fact that cloud-based data management solutions are more cost-effective than centralized legacy systems is almost beside the point. Cloud-based solutions simply drive better decisions — and, with them, the potential to produce a better customer experience.
Cloud-Based Services Enhance Value for Buyers
Today’s customer is picky and demanding. Rather than try to change this behavior, digital brands need to accept and accommodate it. They need to meet customers where they are.
In this case, “where they are” means “wherever they choose to be.” A cloud-based sales engine allows prospects to enter and progress along the lead funnel on their own terms, convert at a time and place of their choosing, and buy when it’s most convenient for them — not the sales associate desperately trying to fill their monthly quotas.
Shifting to the Cloud Makes Dispersed Work Much Easier
We all know the customer experience is better when the employee experience is better. Sophisticated customers have an uncanny ability to suss out low morale and the inauthenticity it breeds, after all. Which means a multifocal organization — one with sales offices here, customer contact hubs there, backend functions all around — needs to work cohesively, using all of the cloud-based tools at its disposal to execute better than the competition.
“If you’ve got development centers all over the world, you’ve got a sales force out with the customers, the fact [is] that tools like Skype [and] digital collaboration are letting people work better at a distance,” Bill Gates famously said back in 2013.
That’s even more true today in the wake of the pandemic. Dispersed work isn’t going anywhere; nor is customers’ expectations that the brands they buy from will be in a position to deliver anytime, anywhere service.
Cloud-Based Data and Metrics Break Down Barriers to Understanding Customers (And Improving Their Experience)
“Cloud first” companies collect data at the speed of the global Internet, not the schedules of the human analysts and data entry drones paid to interface with clunky legacy systems. This allows companies that embrace the cloud to iterate far faster and far more effectively than behind-the-times competitors — and puts them in a position to deliver a much better customer experience in the process.
“Cloud First” Is “Company First” Too
A frequently cited McKinsey report finds that a focus on improving CX can improve customer satisfaction by 25% when paired with an organization-wide digital transformation. The report also found this pairing responsible for a 20% to 50% increase in economic gains, providing further incentive for organizations to pursue it.
The most important takeaway from this study, of course, is that CX improvements and digital transformation go hand in hand. While they can be separated, they shouldn’t be. In today’s world, they are two sides of the same coin.
As your business pursues its own digital transformation, keep this front and center. Yes, your business needs to embrace the fourth industrial revolution for its own purposes, but your customers are watching what you do as well. If it’s clear to them that you don’t have their best interests in mind, your efforts to modernize might not have the results you’d hoped for.