Don’t overlook your people when it comes to digital transformation
Despite having written recently about the importance of digital transformation and why organisations should all have a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to help the process, I make no apologies for returning to the subject once more.
That’s because digital transformation is the most important challenge facing businesses currently. Consumers use digital tools for more everyday tasks than ever before and it is no understatement to say that digital is having a bigger impact on how we live our lives than almost anything else in the history of humankind.
So it’s important for brands to have a major focus on digital transformation, but how to go about it? Most people would agree that employees in a consumer-facing business should be equipped with the right tools to be able to do the job now required of them. But that’s not quite enough, and any focus on digital transformation has to include people, or run the risk of falling at the first hurdle.
Technology in itself is not enough
Of course, technology will always play a significant role when it comes to digital transformation, particularly so when it comes to the customer experience. It is imperative for agents to be equipped with the technologies to deliver the very best service and a key part of this is the Single Digital Channel (SDC).
This gives a customer service worker access to all media types from their desktop, with all contact interaction taken by customers - voice, email, chat, social media – waiting in one queue to be addressed by the right person. The ‘right’ person can mean the next available agent, one with a particular skill-set or area of expertise, or even one with a prior history with that customer.
Naturally, employees would be trained to use such technology, but what if customers are not savvy enough with digital tools to progress things at their end? Staff – both in a contact centre and in direct customer-facing environments such as a bricks and mortar retail store – need to be more effectively trained to manage the needs of customers that are not yet comfortable with digital tools.
While millennials are generally considered to be digital natives and confident with an array of digital tools and services, not all of the population are millennials. This applies to both a brand’s workforce and its customer base.
This means there is a need for all staff – not just the millennials that use digital technology as a matter of course – to become comfortable with digital, developing knowledge and skills that can be passed onto customers when necessary. Many retailers have followed this path. After equipping staff with tablets and providing wi-fi throughout stores, some found that these weren’t being used in significant numbers by customers. Training staff to educate customers - and communicating that staff are available and ready to help - has been a way of encouraging take-up of technology and adds another layer to the customer experience.
Digital transformation is a complex set of processes. For many organisations, core operations are still run on outdated systems from a different era, and addressing digital transformation in terms of customer interactions is just scratching the service.
But despite this, involving staff in digital transformation must be an important development. Doing so encourages a shared belief in a brand’s vision amongst employees and gives them the skills to use the technology in a way that will deliver most value to customers. We all know how big a role employee engagement can play in delivering a first-class customer experience and by focusing on people in digital transformation, employees will be empowered and encouraged to help even more.
Mike Hughes is MD at PeopleTECH and one of the UK’s foremost customer experience experts, having worked for and consulted companies such Thomas Cook, BskyB and France Telecom on how best to deliver a first-class experience to their customers.