Customer-focused digital strategy to transcend crisis thinking

May 12, 2021

Victoria Bergin

Victoria Bergin

Director Digital & Customer Experience, Versent

Market forces and technology have been steadily reshaping economies for more than a century. But over the last year, we’ve witnessed seismic reshaping of the business landscape.  

Companies the world over have been working overtime to meet the challenges COVID presents. Beyond the staggering emotional impact on millions of families, this global pandemic has wrought fundamental changes in how people work, where they travel, and the way they consume products and services. Digital transformation was already a high priority for many enterprises, but the pandemic has spurred even greater urgency to move toward digital product delivery and customer interaction as the norm.  

Responding to the crisis economy 

Customer needs are always changing, but in this crisis, it happened very abruptly and unexpectedly. The 2020 lockdowns saw the closure of bricks and mortar stores across Australia. Lockdowns were a brutal blow to many companies, but they also drove a jump in online spending of about 60%. Digital platforms became the primary means of keeping business going, so there was intense urgency to upgrade and expand those online shopfronts.  

Anecdotally, we started to see a surge in demand for digital modernisation services as the COVID crisis unfolded. We wanted clearer data, so Versent surveyed business leaders in Australia and found that more than 57% were fast-tracking their digital transformation projects as part of their response to the rapidly changing marketplace. 

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year thinking about how to handle the business challenges presented by COVID. We need solutions that don’t just address the immediate problems but also equip companies to grow into an increasingly dominant online marketplace.  

Strategic change, not haste 

When everything hinges on online customer experience, it’s vital to get the design and implementation right. Modern user experience demands a seamless integration of attractive apps that customers will enjoy using, with robust, well-engineered back end architecture. Customers expect online business interactions that deliver solutions securely, efficiently and with a high degree of personalisation.  

Personalisation is a win/win for online business. It brings together customer data on interactions with your brand, so you can view trends across demographic groups and devise multi-stream customer strategies. Your customers also benefit from much more relevant content presentation and easier user interactions. 

The sort of comprehensive solution I’m talking about here isn’t something you can get off-the-rack. A business looking to optimise its digital growth needs to have a custom-made system fine-tuned to meet its specific challenges. 

Doing digital modernisation well requires a thorough examination of an entire business model. Diving into website upgrades or app development without an economically focused strategic plan can result in expensive failures. 

Step one is to understand your customers’ needs, the challenges they face, and how your new digital services can help solve them. You’re not building a platform to make your business easier to manage, although that is a secondary benefit. Your principal goal is to create a system that works better for your customers.  

Once you’ve identified your customers’ motivations, you’re well-positioned to devise a customer experience (CX) strategy. This holistic plan should encompass every part of your business, from sales to manufacturing, transport, and support. Contemporary customer interactions have multiple touchpoints across a business, so your CX strategy needs to be a coordinated effort.  

Online CX doesn’t follow rigid linear paths. In an online context, customers arrive at your business through many different touchpoints and channels: web searches, social media, YouTube, etc. You need to account for all these possibilities in your digital experience architecture so your prospects and clients have a consistently positive interaction with your brand. 

Implementing the right technology 

The platform and tools you select for your digital transformation should be dictated by your CX strategy and not the other way around.

Whether you opt for a fully rebuilt platform or an add-on user experience app to coordinate your existing services, it’s vital to make tactical choices that serve long term goals. Short term money-savers can lead to disastrously expensive problems in the future as the limitations of your solution constrict your ability to adapt and grow.  

Data-driven personalisation has a powerful influence on customer sentiment, so companies that ignore it do so at their peril. Digital user experience is the marketplace battleground of the future. To be competitive, your business needs solutions that are flexible and scalable as well as robust. 

Planning for an unpredictable future 

You’re not just doing digital transformation to handle the current pandemic crisis. The movement toward online commerce and increasingly digital economies will continue beyond this moment in time. Modern digital platforms give people greater choice, faster service, and (if they’re properly executed), they deliver better customer experiences. The pandemic accelerated the process, but continued digitisation of our communities, companies and customer experience frameworks is inevitable.  

When you’re contemplating your options for rebuilding your company’s digital experience, it’s vital to look beyond the immediate urgency. The digital investment you make now should provide a platform that can evolve and scale as your business grows. 

The main benefit of a modern online business structure is its adaptability. We can’t predict the future of the marketplace, but we can confidently say there will always be unexpected events and disruptive forces at play. A well-planned digital transformation can lay the groundwork for thriving through future crises, as well as surviving the one we’re dealing with right now.  

Want to evolve your company’s digital customer experience?  
Talk to your local Versent team for expert advice. 

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