Uncover Valuable Customer Insights With Digital Transformation
Why a Single Platform Approach to Business Operations is Key to Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience
Years ago, digital transformation typically meant large enterprises were finding ways to apply digital technologies to incrementally improve different parts of their businesses.
Since that time, technological advances such as IoT, AI, and the cloud have given way to a new approach to digital transformation – one that connects disparate tools and technologies onto a single platform approach. Not only does business strategy and execution improve, but you can tap into rich customer insights that help streamline operations and empower every department to better serve customer needs.
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And it’s no longer just large enterprises that are making these changes. Digital and analytics transformations are happening across the business landscape. However, in a 2019 survey, McKinsey found only 14% of businesses that make a digital transformation enjoy sustained performance improvements. Named as core elements of those successful digital transformations were deconstructing organizational silos and taking an agile approach, which both speak to the importance of a single platform approach that connects every part of your business from sales to invoicing.
When visibility is enterprise-wise, customer insights are, too. With every customer interaction, new data is created, and digital transformation can improve how your business uses that data, turning it into insights that are organized, analyzed, and accessible across your organization.
How Digital Transformation Drives Customer Insights
At its core, a digital transformation, wherein your disparate tools and technologies are streamlined onto a single platform, changes the way your business operates and, consequently, how you interact with customers.
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Many companies know there are gaps within their organizational workflows that are impacting the customer experience, but find the idea of digital transformation overwhelming due to cost concerns, adoption challenges, or lacking technology capabilities.
Despite those hesitations, the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that investments in digital transformation will top a whopping $6.8 trillion globally by 2023. CEOs and other company leadership clearly recognize digital transformations are needed to meet customer demands – which grew exponentially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – and want to take advantage of the broader insights digital maturity can offer.
By adopting a single platform solution for your digital transformation, multiple, independent departments can come together around accessible, usable customer data.
Let’s look at how a single platform drives richer customer insights:
1. Collect, easily access, and use all customer data.
Think about all of the ways customer data is collected and what data becomes available to your business from each customer interaction:
- Sales and service transactions
- Purchase histories
- Personal data provided by the customer
- Payment card information
- Customer service interactions, both online and in-person
- Marketing engagements with ads, social media campaigns, content downloads, etc.
- Use of your website (pages visited, resources accessed, etc.)
- Data provided by or available from external entities such as the government or competitors
Depending on your industry, there can be far more interactions that drive customer data collection. Either way, companies are faced with millions of data points that need to be organized and made available as actionable insights that can then be leveraged for improved customer interactions. With both markets and customer dynamics changing rapidly, coupled with the fast-pace of business and growing demand, there is little room to overlook even one step in your customers’ experiences with your company.
2. Enjoy automatic aggregation of all customer data from different departments and systems.
With so much data being collected from so many different places, a single platform is critical to ensuring that data is flowing into a single source of truth. Organizations with multiple departments that may all be using different software are operating in a silo where, for example, the sales team has insights about a customer’s transaction history that the billing department does not. Such discrepancies in visibility can lead to an incorrect invoice being sent to a customer, resulting in a negative experience. Putting every department in front of the same information eliminates these silos so cross-company collaboration is easy and intuitive.
3. Understand your customers on a more individual level, allowing personalized outreach and appropriate touchpoints.
Everyone wants a personalized experience with a company. It has become an expectation rather than a nice touch, and the only way to deliver on that expectation is with greater insights.
If sales teams have visibility into a customer’s marketing engagements, they can more appropriately tailor outreach to that customer’s interests and needs.
4. Provide all departments with access to all customer data, breaking down silos for improved enterprise-wide collaboration.
Let’s say that your company’s delivery team becomes aware of a supply shortage of a certain product, but due to a non-integrated system, were unable to see that the sales team had a recurring shipment of that product scheduled for a customer. In this scenario, the sales team is unaware of the shortage, and the customer won’t receive it on time. This type of siloed approach to enterprise operations goes away when all customer information is available in one place.
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5. Enable a more seamless cross-channel experience for customers.
Whether a customer is interacting with your company’s sales team, billing and accounting department, customer service department, or another area, they should have a seamless experience where they aren’t having to repeat their needs or provide information your company already knows. While this may seem like an obvious way to conduct business, disparate technologies can lead to gaps in customer data that create cross-channel challenges and disrupt the customer experience.
What Are the Risks of Failing to Embrace a Digital Transformation?
A recently-published benchmark study by Service Performance Insight (SPI) looked into the role digital transformation played in the ability of professional services organizations to survive the 2020 pandemic year.
Survey input revealed the unignorable benefits of digital transformation, as the top-performing firms reported having either institutionalized or optimized their digital transformations. The lowest-performing firms, however, which suffered project cancellations, delays, and saw the largest annual losses to-date, reported either having made no attempt at digital transformation or having only piloted or just adopted a digital transformation strategy. And the difference between SPI’s findings in prior years of conducting the study compared to the 2020 benchmark is worth noting:
- The organizations that lagged in their digital transformation saw the largest drops in billable utilization, revenue per employee, and overall profit ever seen in the history of the benchmark study, with an EBITDA of -10.1%.
- Conversely, the organizations that had implemented digital transformations experienced quite the opposite; dramatic increases in EBITDA of 16.8% to 30.2%, compared to an industry benchmark of 13.3%.
It’s abundantly clear that the pandemic was a wake-up call for businesses that had not yet embraced – in part or in full – digital transformation. The SPI report concludes with a prescient observation:
“Top-performing firms are more resilient and agile because they rely on integrated, cloud-based business applications. These investments pay for themselves with improved transparency and visibility across all aspects of the business.”
The harsh reality of where the business landscape sits today is that any services business pre-pandemic that was getting by without undergoing any kind of digital transformation is either out of business now, or struggling to regain footing.
But there is an important distinction to be made here between making a digital transformation to streamline business operations and adopting digital technologies to enable business continuity. A complete digital transformation requires these two key milestones:
- It must be institutionalized. Meaning, it has not just been deployed but fully adopted throughout your organization. All departments must be leveraging the platform, and understand how to use it. Customer insights must be actively applied to business operations and improvements should be evident.
- It must be optimized. Institutionalizing your platform is a critical step, but to remain effective, it must also be optimized to fit with changing business goals, shifts in your customer base, or industry changes. The pandemic is a perfect example of a time when existing digital platform solutions needed to be optimized to meet suddenly different and greater customer needs and increased demands on business operations.
The ROI Benefits of a Digital Transformation That Drives Rich Customer Insights
Gaining customer insights has far-reaching value across your organization. If your company is hesitant about adopting new technology and making the necessary operational shifts that come with it, it may help to know that there is proven ROI in it for you.
Let’s explore some of the overarching ROI gains that are possible with digital transformation.
Formerly manual processes, like a sales-to-service handoff, invoicing, or spreadsheet data entry, become automated and streamlined, eliminating the unnecessary hours or even days to complete those tasks by hand. Time savings can be difficult to quantify, but there is no question that automating a manual process does save time. FinancialForce found that for professional services organizations, digital transformation saved them $3 million annually in productivity enhancements to resourcing and project management for every 100 full-time-employees.
An ROI-Based Approach to Digital Transformation
Easier to quantify are cost savings; especially when you are streamlining multiple tools and solutions into a single platform. For larger organizations in particular, simplifying the enormous complexities involved in operating at scale leads to significant savings with the elimination of maintenance for multiple systems, and the addition of a single platform designed to perform exactly the tasks necessary for every aspect of your business. FinancialForce found that for every $50 million in revenue, professional services organizations were able to realize an average $1 million increase to their bottom line margins annually through improved reporting, visibility, and analytics on a single platform.
With disparate, disconnected technologies and operations, organizations can suffer both revenue leakage – where there are gaps between revenue sold and revenue earned – and underutilization of budget. Organizations that adopt a single platform solution for selling, planning, staffing, and delivering work are able to mitigate revenue leakage and increase billable utilization. FinancialForce found that processional services companies realized, on average, $10 million in incremental annual revenue per 1,000 consultants, with a 4% increase in billable utilization.
Digital transformation across industries is enabling businesses to streamline operations and realize benefits that are hard to ignore, especially as the cost of doing nothing becomes simply too great.
Customers are demanding more efficient, engaging, communicative, and personalized experiences with brands that cater to their needs without the guesswork – and your organization can both meet those demands and improve business operations with a single platform that is easy to implement, learn, and use, and that scales seamlessly with your business.
Contact us today to schedule a demo and learn more about how we use the Salesforce cloud platform to streamline your operations and put your customers at the center of everything you do.