The workplace and customer service shifts caused by COVID-19 have accelerated trends in digitization. In many cases, in order to remain operational, businesses must embrace digital transformation as they’ve never done before. As part of this, the customer experience needs to be accessible and seamless to maintain loyalty. Digital transformation enables stronger connections between businesses and technology to move faster and be more responsive to the needs of their customers.
More than ever, businesses must meet the ever-increasing consumer demands for digital options. With the diminished number of in-person interactions, businesses are relying more heavily than ever on digital tools to survive and adapt. According to McKinsey and Company, CIOs have an opportunity to accelerate programs and push priorities that can help position the business to succeed when the slow shift to business as usual begins.
The first phase of digital transformation lays the path through adoption of cloud, mobile, big data and social—which, combined, provides a platform for organizations to achieve greater operational efficiencies, better business insights and deeper customer engagements. The next phase involves technologies that promote data-driven intelligence for enhanced real-time decision-making, as well as those that enable or enhance automation to drive even more improved outcomes.
The importance of customer experience cannot be understated. Beyond simply making the customer happy, a high-quality customer experience can build customer loyalty and increase revenues.
Customer experience can mean anything from an intuitive online ordering platform to employing bots available anytime to answer customer questions to providing biometric login so users don’t have to remember passwords. For employees, it can mean automating time-consuming tasks that take them away from focusing on more value-added, customer-centric activities, or integrating systems to provide a single view of a customer’s information and buying history.
Positive customer experiences can help:
From streamlining the onboarding process to resolving disputes quickly, organizations that recognize the value of the end-to-end customer experience, both online and in-person, will gain a more loyal customer base. Technologies such as AI-enabled customer relationship management platforms that can provide a seamless customer experience that spans both online and in-person and deliver data in real-time to assist in problem resolution are critical in building and retaining customer loyalty.
Many employees interact with customers daily, and when customers aren’t happy, those employees will bear the brunt of that displeasure. What’s more, employees saddled with repetitive, mind-numbing tasks are less inclined to do anything that will promote their company to existing and potential customers. Automation coupled with analytics programs that provide relevant customer data in real-time to resolve issues not only can make for loyal customers but also happier, more productive employees.
Automation, real-time analytics and other technologies can help organizations streamline their operations and uncover tasks that don’t require human interaction, such as compliance checks or document signatures. As a result, not only can an organization save money and time, but also improve employee satisfaction.
To fully realize the power of the technologies that advance customer experience, many organizations are adding to or upgrading their networking infrastructure in ways that don’t require “ripping and replacing” their current technologies and enable them to derive continued value. Adding SD-WAN to complement their existing MPLS network, for example, can add needed capacity to run data-heavy workloads without stressing the network and increase the speed of data ingest from and response to all points on the network.
Likewise, edge networking is coming into its own among organizations dealing with data-intensive workloads. Pushing network intelligence to the edge will enable data to be processed at the edge of the network—on edge devices such as routers or switches—rather than at the data center, reducing bandwidth needs and accelerating response. Cloud and on-premises data centers and ultimately the customer experience can benefit from reduced latency and increased processing power afforded by edge networking.
Businesses that don’t have the ability to upgrade their networks due to cost, capacity or other reasons, can turn to managed services providers to “fill in the gaps” in their current infrastructure. Managed services can benefit network, security and IT operations and business analytics, enabling organizations of all sizes and business models to take advantage of the latest in digital transformation technologies for superior customer experience without spending all their time and efforts on managing their networks.
Customers today expect their experience to be the same on any device, online and in-person. Without the in-person option, businesses are increasingly embracing new technologies and services that address the positive customer experience to retain current and attract new customers. Building on a digital foundation that includes cloud, mobile, big data and social, businesses are expanding their technology portfolios to include those that promote data-driven intelligence for enhanced real-time decision-making, as well as those that enable or enhance automation to drive even more improved customer outcomes, regardless of where employees are sitting.