Research Shows How Leading Marketers Deliver Digital Transformation

Michael Brenner on Mar 14, 2016 in Marketing Strategy

Today’s customers expect and demand a seamless, consistent digital experience across every brand channel. It does not matter which part of the company customers are dealing with, in their mind there is only one brand. Yet, many brands continue to provide a disconnected experience, with each team working in silos and engaging customers on their own. This disengages and leaves customers feeling frustrated and even disloyal.

According to a 2013 study by Oracle, 89% of customers surveyed said they switched brands because of a bad customer experience. Brands who continue down the path of business as usual and do not adapt to enhance their customer experience will only risk extinction.

For marketers who are looking to lead change within their organization, where do they start? Altimeter Group interviewed executives from 32 industries undergoing digital transformation at their companies, to better understand the journey they are taking towards success. And they learned that successful marketers lead their efforts with an “O.P.P.O.S.I.T.E” approach.

OPPOSITE is an acronym that represents eight best practices and steps that help brands jumpstart their digital transformation efforts, to bring your teams together and work towards a relevant, compelling customer experience. Let’s take a closer look at each stage:

1. Orientation

The first step to successful digital transformation starts with establishing a new perspective to drive meaningful change. All stakeholders and teams involved must first shift how they see, understand and appreciate customers and their expectations, preferences, behaviors, values and other factors that may impact their actions.

Change can be scary and undesirable for many leaders, particularly when they lack a clear view of the changing customer behaviors and trends that are reshaping the market. Success begins with helping executives and other change agents understand the need to take action even in the absence of a complete customer picture, and start establishing this view and perspective with the data and insights you have. Look at both current and emerging trends and how they compare to your brand’s existing roadmap.

2. People

The second stage involves discovering and understanding your customer values, behaviors and expectations. These customer insights will help reveal opportunities to deliver a more compelling, relevant experience throughout the customer journey.

Step into your customers’ shoes and start mapping the customer journey and identifying touchpoints that are missing or could be improved on. Then design a customer experience strategy that leverages your existing journey as well as the research, trends and insights you’ve gathered.

Beyond research, journey mapping and data, consider conducting customer interviews to help you better understand your target audience and guide your investments in a new customer experience that truly meets the needs of your target audience.

Your work must take into account your customers’ intentions, desired outcomes and behaviors at each touchpoint on different devices. All touchpoints must be seamlessly integrated to deliver a desirable, smooth experience throughout the customer journey for all devices.

3. Processes

As the next step, conduct an audit of your existing business models, processes, policies and systems to determine the roadblocks that may get in the way of your transformation efforts. Revise or write new policies, processes and models that will drive forward the new direction and scale.

At some point of the digital transformation journey, Altimeter Group found that companies will reach the point of scale that requires governance work to standardize and manage the new processes, policies and systems. This work will be performed by a cross-functional committee supported by executive sponsors.

The workgroup’s planning and collaboration efforts overtime will lead to the development of interim structures supporting pilot programs and changes to existing departments and teams. New models will be established to continue to scale and enhance the transformation journey and customer experience.

4. Objectives

In this stage, you’ll define the goals for digital transformation and why the new customer experience is critical to driving value for all stakeholders and shareholders. When setting your objectives, make sure they align with both your short and long-term milestones relevant to the customer experience.

Every initiative you execute at each phase of the journey must map back to your goals, and all teams involved in the transformation efforts must be held accountable. As well, it’s important to determine in this stage how progress and success will be measured, and the steps to get there.

Document your transformation efforts in intervals, ranging from six months to the next five years, so your workgroup and stakeholders can see what they are working towards and how they can translate the accomplishment of key objectives into additional budgetary support and resources.

5. Structure

With a transformation workgroup established in step three, in this stage you’ll form a dedicated customer experience team by uniting all key stakeholders, in various departments and roles within your organization, responsible for managing different touchpoints of your customer experience. This ensures everyone shares a universal understanding and goal when it comes to their customers.

While the transformation workgroup and customer experience team regularly work together, they serve different purposes. The transformation workgroup oversees transformation at the executive level, and the customer experience team manages the transformation efforts across different departments.

Ownership is one of the biggest challenges marketers and their brands face with digital transformation, and establishing these two committees will help manage those pain points. Successful transformation involves defining and assigning roles within each workgroup to avoid confusion and to drive change efficiently. These responsibilities are often based on the RA(S)CI process model: Responsible, Accountable, Supported, Consulted, Informed.

6. Insights And Intent

It’s important to conduct research and gather data throughout the transformation process. This helps to develop an informed strategy that optimizes and reiterates the evolving customer experience, which adapts to changing technology and consumer behaviors, trends and expectations.

Research is of limited value and use if the data is not analyzed and translated into actionable insights. You need to look at the context, device, intent and behavior behind your customer data and research. Some questions to ask include: Why did this transaction occur? What were the customer’s intentions and motivations? What device did they use? What are the events that will occur as a result of this transaction?

7. Technology

The OPPOSITE approach requires one to think about the role technology plays in the customer journey and experience, so collaboration with IT is crucial. While it is not an end-all solution to all your customer experience challenges, technology plays an important role in that it helps you reach your transformation goals by enabling and facilitating seamless, personalized and cross-channel customer engagement.

All IT departments have their own technology roadmaps to modernize and upgrade existing infrastructure, so you must work together to determine whether all legacy investments and plans can support the company’s transformation efforts or not. If outdated or misaligned, they must be updated so the roadmaps align with and support your digital transformation and customer experience work.

It’s important to fight the “shiny object syndrome” and not fall for the latest systems and platforms for their novelty. Instead, you need to select technology solutions that will help you solve your current challenges and create opportunities at each stage of the OPPOSITE framework.

8. Execution

Execution of your transformation strategy is as important as the vision that leads it. Since your transformation efforts require heavy investments of resources and time, execution should be broken into tangible, attainable steps, with related metrics and KPIs that you can measure progress against over time to validate your work.

Even the smallest pilot programs can have big impacts on your company’s path to digital transformation maturity. So it’s important that all key leaders and change agents driving the transformation are committed to learning and sharing best practices with one another, to continuously improve your brand’s digital transformation and customer experience.

How is your brand adapting to the new digital customer experience? Do you use a similar approach to OPPOSITE to drive change within your organization? Please share your thoughts below!

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Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.