In the rapidly-evolving digital age, finding effective ways to leverage new technologies is a critical priority for any business hoping to stay competitive. Change is hard but it's also necessary, especially when everyone else in your industry is currently re-imagining or modifying essential aspects of how they work.
With so much that's changing about the way organisations operate, it's worth remembering what remains very much the same: good customer service is at the heart of any successful business.
Whether it's migrating to the cloud, embracing remote work, or harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, the ultimate goal of your digital business transformation initiatives should be delivering a great customer experience as consistently as possible. While the benefits of innovation are potentially endless, these shifts will also come with challenges that have to be approached in a thoughtful way. At the very least, organisations in transition should be mindful of not letting customer satisfaction become an unintended casualty.
This article has practical advice to help businesses understand the common pitfalls of digital innovation and continue exceeding customer expectations even while implementing major changes in their use of technology.
Digital transformation initiatives offer incredible potential for streamlining operations and finding new solutions for a wide range of problems. But there are also obstacles and mistakes that can hinder progress along the way and even trickle down to affect the customer. Dealing with these issues is all about being proactive and self-aware, especially by anticipating them and having a well-designed digital transformation strategy. Five of the key problems that can emerge in this process include:
Becoming more reliant on interconnected systems, such as cloud-based environments and IoT devices, will also make companies more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats, especially data breaches. This is one of the biggest transformation challenges companies face because these incidents can be incredibly harmful on every level, from the financial costs involved to the reputational damage and loss of trust when sensitive customer data is affected. As organisations move to integrate these new technologies, they have to be developing a culture of security awareness at the exact same time, which should include both investing in cybersecurity measures and training employees on the best practices for mitigating these risks.
Businesses that are just beginning their digital transformation will still be relying on outdated software or hardware infrastructure that requires lots of manual steps and may have been built years or even decades ago. Legacy systems have these major limitations because they were designed to meet the needs of a different era and can't necessarily be integrated with modern digital solutions. It's important to be strategic and make a realistic plan for phasing out older infrastructure and modernising your applications without compromising customer service, which might be either with gradual updates or as part of a more comprehensive overhaul, depending on the organisation's needs and resources.
Change can be very uncomfortable, especially when it's affecting fundamental aspects of how people are used to working. This fear of the unknown can lead to resistance and a negative mindset, which can possibly slow down the digital transformation process and even negatively impact customer service. This reaction is normal, to a certain extent, but companies can foster a culture of adaptability by emphasising the benefits of using new technology and providing adequate training.
Digital transformation projects often come with a large price tag, as well as unexpected expenses that can spiral out of control without proper planning. While the idea is that these investments will be well worth it in the end, it's essential to avoid the potentially serious consequences of cost overruns, like having an incomplete or derailed initiative. Keeping the project on track should include setting realistic expectations, prioritising the most high-impact changes first, and monitoring expenses closely throughout the process.
While companies are under increasing pressure to innovate, there's also bound to be many other competing financial priorities that make it challenging to begin a digital transformation initiative. Securing an adequate budget for these efforts will depend on being able to make a very compelling case for all the long-term benefits of investing in technology, especially the potential cost savings of becoming more efficient, higher customer satisfaction from delivering better services, and the overall goal of staying competitive within your industry.
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All major transitions come with some growing pains, though that's certainly not a reason to avoid making necessary changes. In the case of incorporating more digital tools and systems, it's crucial to understand the potential negative consequences for customers and take steps to minimise them as part of your process mapping. Some of the main areas of concern throughout a digital business transformation should be:
Privacy matters more than ever, especially in the wake of high-profile data leaks happening in so many different industries. Customers are increasingly savvy about verifying whether their personal data is being collected, used, and stored according to ethical standards. To mitigate these concerns, businesses need to have the proper privacy protection measures in place, communicate this commitment to their customers, and generally be transparent about how they handle data.
Retiring legacy systems and implementing new technology has a high potential for glitches and outages, especially in the beginning. This is one of the digital transformation challenges that can cause the most frustration for customers and employees alike. While it's not possible to completely prevent these unforeseen technical issues, it helps to test new systems as thoroughly as possible, make a contingency plan for disruptions, and generally prioritise the monitoring and maintenance of all digital tools.
Customers often perceive new tools and processes as "confusing" or "complicated", which can either be due to some actual problems with how this new technology was implemented or just by virtue of being something new and unfamiliar. In either case, this perception is one of the most difficult growing pains for companies undergoing a digital transformation, but it's not an issue that's permanent or insurmountable. Businesses can help their customers adapt to changes by training employees to provide more support during the transition and also by gathering feedback to continue making their system as user-friendly, straightforward, and intuitive as possible.
Depending on the nature of your business, one of the consequences of a digital transformation initiative could be less human interaction and more impersonal service overall. For some customers, not speaking to a real person will be extremely detrimental to their experience, which is very challenging feedback for any company to hear. Maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction will depend on being able to strike that balance between leveraging technology to become more efficient while also preserving the human element that some customers really value and prefer.
For companies trying to innovate and modernise, maintaining a high-quality, seamless customer experience can be one of the biggest challenges. Being aware that customer satisfaction should always be a top priority and acting accordingly is the first step to avoiding the most serious mistakes throughout this process. Some of the dos and don'ts to help you deliver a great customer experience during your digital business transformation include:
Prioritise user experience: This attitude includes everything from making sure new technologies are easy to use to offering multiple communication channels for customers that prefer talking to a person. This step is also about providing clear instructions and being proactive about helping customers adapt to changes.
Communicate with customers: Keep your customers informed about any changes taking place, explaining both the benefits and any potential disruptions they might experience. This transparency helps manage expectations and reduce confusion or frustration.
Offer comprehensive support: Make sure your teams are well-trained and ready to assist customers effectively, including with learning new systems or processes. You should also provide easy access to support resources like tutorials and FAQs.
Collect and act on customer feedback: The only effective way to deal with digital transformation challenges is to prepare for setbacks and be ready to fine-tune as needed. You should be actively seeking out customer feedback regarding all changes, especially their concerns. It's crucial to really listen, understand what they're saying, and demonstrate your commitment by making any improvements within your reach.
Neglect security and privacy: As you adopt new technologies, don't overlook the importance of implementing robust cybersecurity measures, especially for protecting private data, which is a paramount concern for most customers.
Ignore customer concerns: Disregarding customer feedback or dismissing their concerns is not only a poor practice for the success of your business but also completely unnecessary. Customers should be considered your ally in the process of innovating, rather than an adversary.
Rush the implementation: In many industries, digital transformation initiatives are necessary to stay competitive, but you should also take the time to test, troubleshoot and think thoughtfully about new technologies before fully going live. This approach reduces the risk of negative customer experiences due to technical issues or poor planning.
From cloud migrations to process automation, the large-scale technological changes required to innovate can have a wide-ranging impact throughout your business. To say that it's complicated is an understatement, but the rewards are worth the investment of time, energy, and resources.
Canon Business Services ANZ offers experienced consultants who can help set your organisation up for success during your digital transformation journey, especially by making sure you can continue providing your customers with a seamless experience. Having the right guidance and support can help your organisation reap all the benefits of a successful digital transformation and stay on track--despite the inevitable challenges.
Contact us to speak to an expert and learn more about the benefits of having a full-service business partner helping you navigate this crucial period of change.