The final 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 offers tips for using strategic customer experience digitization to enhance your customers’ interaction with your brand.

Most middle market companies say that digital solutions play an important role in the customer experience (CX). And many are currently investing in tools to further digitize that experience, such as smart devices (IoT), artificial intelligence, or 3D printing. As our latest research shows, investing in CX digitization can pay off in a variety of ways, including driving revenue growth: The data show a clear correlation between companies that invest in a variety of CX digitization tools and faster year-over-year revenue growth.

But the key to realizing these benefits is to make strategic decisions about CX digitization as opposed to ad hock investment in tactics. Digitally Strategic firms have a clear digital strategy in place specifically designed to change and improve the customer experience, and they execute against that strategy when choosing when and where to invest.

If you’re looking to up your digital game and to use technology to help reshape and redefine the customer journey, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Start with a strategy. Only 34% of middle market companies say that customer experience is a critical part of their overall strategy. Yet, companies say that customer experience ranks second only to quality, and exceeds price, in importance to a company’s ability to compete. Given the key role CX plays, approaching it proactively and strategically makes good sense. Companies that do this best communicate their strategy enterprise-wide and adopt an all-hands-on-deck approach when it comes to determining how to digitally enable the customer experience. This can help reduce conflict between digital and analog parts of the business, which companies tell us is one of the key barriers to greater CX digitization.

  2. Invest in talent, not just tools. Digitally Strategic middle market companies stand out from their peers by saying they have the right people in place to capitalize on their investment in digital CX. They employ people with specific expertise and skills in digitization so that when they do invest in tools they are more likely to implement those tools successfully and realize the greatest value from them.

  3. Create a journey map. A journey map can help you visualize every interaction, or touchpoint, between your company and your customers during a typical transaction or relationship. Mapping out the journey lets you see opportunities where digitization makes the most sense and where your customers, and your business, have the most to gain from digitally enabling these interactions.

  4. Coordinate onstage and backstage interactions. Generally speaking, middle market companies are better at digitizing backstage interactions than they are at digitizing customer-facing touchpoints. For example, their content management systems and warehousing and shipping processes might be digitized. But sales and service still happen in person. What’s important is to make sure that what’s happening onstage and backstage is connected. When it is, whether the customer is interacting with you online or face-to-face, the overall experience is simpler, more convenient, and more personal. To get this right, you need to understand what the customer is trying to accomplish at each touchpoint. Then think through what needs to happen onstage and off to best meet customers’ needs and expectations, and consider how technology can help coordinate or streamline these interactions.

  5. Consider the omnichannel experience. When companies do omnichannel right, customers can count on the same experience with the brand, whether it happens on a website, mobile app, or in a store. So, for example, if your brand is known to be fun, reliable, and socially responsible, those same attributes have to come through in digital experiences as strongly as they do when customers interact with you in person. As you digitize touchpoints along the customer journey, be sure to look at those interactions through the omnichannel lens. The idea is to drive deeper connections between customers and a brand they already know and love, not to create experiences that feel like they’re coming from an entirely different company.

Learn More About Strategic CX Digitization

To see how middle market companies are approaching customer experience digitization, and to get more ideas on how to strategically digitize customer interactions, download the Center’s full report, Digitizing the Customer Experience: Are We There Yet?

Others in this series
Post 1: Got An App for That? Customer Experience Matters. And Many Firms Are Taking It Online.
Post 2: Customer Experience Digitization: Being “All In” Pays Off
Post 3: What’s In Your CX Digitization Toolbox?

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?

This post is part of a larger research project by the National Center for the Middle Market. Get the full picture through the resources below: