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Four steps to a customer-centered digital strategy

Customers now at center of business strategy

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July 19, 2018 - C-suite executives recognize that customer experience (CX) is an engine for growth. Yet success is often elusive. Piecemeal approaches, organizational silos, and outdated technologies are part of the challenge. Additionally, many organizations exclusively focus on the front-end experience – rather than on the middle and back office, where many deeper CX problems originate. That helps explain why, in a recent survey, only 23% of respondents claimed to have generated tangible benefits from CX investments.

Many Fortune 1000 leaders are adopting a journey-driven transformation approach to reimagine, design, and engineer experiences that drive desired business outcomes. That fact became apparent at Forrester's CX NYC 2018 in June, where many companies emphasized the importance of placing customers at the center of their business strategies.

The consensus holds that a combination of multidisciplinary teams, intelligent technologies, and agile methodologies fused with design thinking are the foundation of journey-driven transformation. When executed successfully, such transformations enable companies to deliver exceptional experiences to customers and employees across every touchpoint, channel, and device. This post will look at the first element of the approach – customer-centered digital strategy. We'll cover the other two – experience design and experience engineering – next.

Creating a foundation with digital strategy

The right strategy – one that blends human and digital capabilities and is conceived through a customer-centric lens – forms the basis of successful journey-driven transformations. This includes four key principles:

Start with research

CX initiatives will fail, regardless of investment, without objective research and genuine customer insights. Too often, teams develop products behind closed doors, focusing on new technologies instead of what customers really want. By contrast, a customer-centered digital strategy uses both qualitative and quantitative data, blending contextual in-the-moment observations with data-driven insights. Research also helps uncover gaps across the front, middle, and back office.

Here's an example of how a well-conceived approach plays out in practice. One of the country's top three wealth advisors faced challenges when customers began switching providers at retirement age. Meanwhile, millennials – another important group – were making ongoing demands around digital. The advisor needed a new business strategy to drive customer retention, develop performance and asset metrics and KPIs, and improve the experience via digital.

Using a customer-centered digital strategy, the advisor was able to segment, review, and analyze workflow. The firm also gained the full picture of the information consumption of its constituents. Moreover, teams could link value metrics to personas as well as customer and advisor journeys. Ultimately, the advisor came to understand the complex customer ecosystem and was able to create new value in areas like communities of interest. Even better, the firm could prioritize investment decisions, use repeatable models to scale against its transformation roadmap, and deliver a more interactive client experience supported by new applications.

Deploy intelligent software

With intelligent software, firms can create data-driven journeys and personas that guide efforts from strategy through execution. Here's how that worked for one healthcare company. The enterprise applied software as part of its digital strategy to create a patient journey that depicted each phase from diagnosis to treatment. Various touchpoints for patients and providers – such as appointment scheduling, office visits, and lab work – marked each stage. The journeys captured information flow between people, devices, and systems at each touchpoint. Visualizing the journey across the ecosystem helped identify gaps in data flow, drug compliance, information on intervention points, and the synchronizing of medication.

Figure: Data-driven journeys and personas guide overall transformation efforts

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The right software also provides a single source of truth about customers via a centralized platform. Built-in functionality, found in software like Cora Journey360, helps produce data-driven dashboards that illustrate how robust journeys are over time. Teams can monitor the experience across multiple dimensions, adjust course in near real-time, and maximize ROI. Seamless integration with other platforms makes it possible to scale initiatives while accelerating broader digital transformation across the enterprise. For instance, Cora Journey360 integrates with Genpact's Cora platform, allowing teams to continuously strengthen the experience across the front, middle, and back offices. Organizations can integrate additional digital building blocks in AI, robotic process automation, and IoT based on needs, budget, and timing.

Fuse design thinking and agile processes

A customer-centered digital strategy fuses design thinking with agile processes to drive quality, innovation, speed, and productivity. The human-centered approach that fuels design thinking results in new products and services. Meanwhile, agile processes make rapid testing, iteration, and continuous improvement possible. Embed design thinking from the start as a precursor to the build phase. Teams should clarify problems and solutions, establish a design vision, and create an agile framework. Identifying a design vision to sprint toward is critical. Without one, the design will quickly fall apart.

Incorporate many points of view

Multidisciplinary teams should include strategists, designers, technologists, agile experts, business and operational executives, as well as risk, compliance, and legal professionals. Without the right mix of professionals, initiatives skew toward only one objective. For instance, a banking institution might end up with a portal that is best-in-class – but the C-suite views it as a failure because of soaring development costs. The team may have included developers and designers – but not operations and finance. Conversely, the portal may be on time and on budget – but lack innovations that address key pain points at different phases of the journey. If agile professionals aren't involved, teams may promise a timeline that simply isn't feasible – resulting in false expectations. Multidisciplinary teams produce the right solutions while saving time and money. Taking this approach up front reduces risk, drives greater velocity, and produces a better outcome.

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What CX digital strategy can do for you…

A customer-centered digital strategy creates the framework for overall journey-driven transformation. We know, because we've witnessed how a major bank used these principles to increase market share by 50% within one year of launching a new portal. Contact us to learn how we can help with your transformation or sign up for a demo of CoraJourney360.

This blog is co-authored by Michelle Palomera, Vice President, Partner and Business Leader, TandemSeven, a Genpact company and Dave Cowing, Vice President, Partner and Business Leader, TandemSeven, a Genpact company. The blog was first published on the TandemSeven website.