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Kiran Patel

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October 17, 2019

Placing Customers First in Digital Transformation

What is Digital Transformation?

You’ve heard the term digital transformation. But what does it mean? In this article, we’ll begin understanding the process of digital transformation by examining how it places the customer’s journey at the forefront of innovation, product development, and other business processes.

What Is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the ability to leverage technology to create an experience that consumers love. Every step of the way, you want to create an experience that keeps them coming back for more. Digital transformation recognizes that customers are looking for personalization, speed, availability, and consistency in their digital experiences. Consumers have a world of options available to them, and they demand an experience that matches their increasing expectations. The following four areas are essential to successful digital transformation:

  • Understanding what customers want and how users experience a product
  • Effectively leveraging data to the benefit of both consumers and the business
  • Continually optimizing your infrastructure
  • Remaining agile and adaptive as you manage services, products, and platforms

What Do Customers Want?

All successful digital transformation puts customers at the center of every decision. Prior to creating an app, a new website, or a connected product, a business must understand how consumers operate. A business should know their habits, preferences, and desires. This is critical to ensure that the result of any project aligns with what a customer actually wants. For example, a thorough understanding of a customer’s morning habits is key for improving their caffeination experience.

Imagine you are in line at the drive-through to get your morning joe. You’ve placed your order but realize you’ve forgotten your wallet. Of course, you have your phone. Thanks to an experience that was designed solely with the customer in mind, you can open your app and add money to your virtual gift card instantly. In the time it takes to approach the window, you are now ready to purchase. You scan the app to pay for your beverage and drive away happily with no interruptions to your routine. This is true bliss. You’ve got a hot beverage from the comfort of your car without even opening your wallet.

How Can Businesses Transform and Create Outstanding Customer Experiences?

To create that type of seamless experience for customers, companies need to begin by asking the right questions. In this case, the business began by asking how an app could add something to a customer’s coffee buying experience. (Remember, there is an app for everything.) First, the app needed an easy way to pay for coffee. For most people purchasing their morning cup, time is not a luxury they have. Being able to pull out a phone and scan it saves precious time. It eliminates the need to sift through a purse or bag to find a wallet. It leans into the fact of near-universal smartphone ownership.

From the outset of the idea, the customer’s experience was top of mind. This type of customer-first design thinking improves your ability to create a solution that delivers true value to end users. It’s what gives you the vision to do an incredibly difficult thing: holistically solve for an improved customer experience that not only benefits your customers, but also your business.

Analyzing Data

As more and more customers use an app every day, the amount of data being collected increases rapidly. A wealth of information about customers’ favorite drinks, purchase size, time of day they purchase, geography, and more would accumulate. This is where data analytics comes in. The data can be analyzed for the individual user, for the business, and for any group in between.

For users, data can be used to make personalized drink recommendations, suggest locations close to them, remind them about their virtual card balance, let them know when promotions are going on in their area, and much more. By leveraging data, customers are delighted by their experience, purchase more, and increase brand loyalty.

For businesses, all that data can be structured and analyzed to drive new insights that can improve efficiencies at every level of your organization.

Collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data (not to mention delivering a reliable, stable application experience) requires sophisticated supporting infrastructure as well as abandoning the all-too-common set-it-and-forget-it approach.

Digital Transformation Is an Approach

Digital transformation means more than just adopting technology. It means continually increasing your technology capabilities and organizing them around customers so you can adapt to their needs and expectations. When it comes to digital experiences, everything is changing and everything will continue to change. Digital transformation is a business approach that recognizes this fact and emphasizes constant evolution.

Considering the coffee example, as technology changes and advances, the app will need to be updated for added security and functionality. To satisfy consumer desires for instant gratification, a bonus program could be incorporated that lets users accumulate points to spend on free perks. Who doesn’t love free perks? A virtual punch-card would give them another incentive to continue to use the app and one less thing to dig through their wallet for.

Not Sure Where to Start Your Digital Transformation Journey?

Digital transformation and becoming a digital company require changing the way you’ve always done business. Maybe you have excelled for more than 100 years with business as usual, but developing and supporting a successful digital product is going to mean change.

At OST, we know that the key to unlocking new business value is creating a deeper relationship with your customer. And we’re here to help with everything you need to accelerate growth by transforming your business and consumer experiences. Our teams have proven experience in strategy, design, and technology, and we’ve helped manufacturers, healthcare organizations, and a wide variety of other businesses create successful connected products, digital experiences, and more.

Contact us to begin your digital transformation.

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About the Author

Kiran Sood Patel is the former Managing Editor of The Rapidian and hails from Illinois. Born and raised in the Midwest, she has reported for daily newspapers for years, with experience covering education, business, technology, city government and feature reporting. Prior to moving to Michigan, she worked as a multimedia reporter for The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She holds a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and a Bachelor of Arts in News Editorial Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an active volunteer in all communities and cities she has called home. She is the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee of the Junior League of Grand Rapids. The Junior League of Grand Rapids is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Kiran has served as the Assistant Chair of Research in Community Impact. She served as JLGR’s Chair of the Beneath the Wreath committee in 2017. She is a past Educational Programming co-chair for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids. In the past, she has volunteered as an adult literacy tutor and with the Junior League of Cedar Rapids for three years in the area of youth aging out of the foster care system. She enjoys baking, reading popular fiction, blogging, writing and being a tourist in her own city. In Grand Rapids, you can find her in search of baked goods, coffee, good food and captivating stories across the city.