The second post in a series based on the research report Digitizing the Customer Experience: Are We There Yet? by the National Center for the Middle Market, this blog post explores the benefits of strategic customer experience digitization.

It’s common knowledge that effort begets results. Generally speaking, the more you put in, the more you get out.

While this notion holds true when looking at customer experience (CX) digitization, what’s interesting is that the results are not entirely linear. In other words, companies that dabble in CX digitization, and even those that have invested in a handful of CX digitization tools, do marginally better across a variety of metrics than non-digital firms.

But the real advantages fully materialize only at the leading edge of CX digitization: Middle market firms that strategically and heavily invest in the right CX technology and talent significantly outperform their peers on everything from serving their customers, to meeting their customer experience goals, to making money.

Fully Embracing CX Digitization Makes a Difference

According to our latest research, about one in five (21%) middle market firms qualifies as Digitally Strategic. These companies have invested in eight or more CX digitization tools. But it’s not the quantity that set them apart: it’s the strategic intent.

Customer experience is a critical part of overall corporate strategy for these companies, and they are “all in” when it comes to using digital solutions to enhance that experience. Their strategy is communicated and embraced organization-wide. And, in addition to tools, they invest in the right people to deploy the tools.

Compared to some of their peers who digitize on an ad hoc basis, typically reacting to customer or competitive pressures, Digitally Strategic firms are intentional about what they do and how they do it.

And they reap the rewards:

  • Digital solutions are much more effective among Digitally Strategic firms. Digital solutions can impact everything from customer service, to quality of products, to entry into new markets. Across the middle market, fewer than half of companies rate their digital solutions as extremely or very effective in these areas. But that percentage jumps dramatically among Digitally Strategic firms. More than three-quarters of these companies say digital solutions enhance customer service and over two-thirds claim their digital solutions are helping to open doors to new customers and new markets. Additionally, the majority of Digitally Strategic firms say their digital solutions are very effective at increasing productivity, lowering costs, and giving insight into business performance goals and understanding what their customers want and need.
  • Digitally Strategic firms rock their customer experience goals. The more strategic a firm is about digitizing CX, the better it does at achieving its CX goals. Nearly three-quarters of Digitally Strategic firms rate an “A” or “B” in this area, while the middle market overall gets a “C.” Given the extreme importance of CX (companies tell us it’s second only to quality in terms of competing for business), companies that do this well enjoy a real competitive advantage in the quest for customers.
  • Digitally Strategic businesses make more money. That competitive advantage clearly pays offs. Digitally Strategic firms report 9.9% year-over-year revenue growth compared to about 6.0% for less digital firms and 4.7% for non-digital firms. Again, while firms that are a little digital do a little better than non-digital peers, the real jump in revenue growth rates happens only with a strategic, intentional investment in CX digitization.
  • How Do Your CX Digitization Efforts Stack Up?

    The data make a clear case for strategic investment in CX digitization. If your business is currently more reactive than intentional in this area, it may be time to put some more thought into how you can better tailor your customers’ interactions with you online. When you do, it can impact not only how your customers experience your brand, but also how your business performs across the board.

    Learn More About the Advantages of Strategic CX Digitization

    See how middle market companies are integrating digital tools into customer touchpoints, and what the impact is on their business, in the Center’s full report, Digitizing the Customer Experience: Are We There Yet?

    Next in this series
    Post 3: What’s In Your CX Digitization Toolbox?

    Others in this series
    Post 1: Got An App for That? Customer Experience Matters. And Many Firms Are Taking It Online.
    Post 4: 5 Ways to Make Your Customer’s Experience More Digital

    The NCMM examines its latest research report on digitizing the customer experience with Jeff Sharritts, Senior Vice President of Cisco's U.S. Commercial Sales. Listen to Episode 19: Digitizing the Customer Experience: Are We There Yet?