Reflections on Digital CX
Digital CX: game changer or distraction?
Digital is a people problem.
Our first topic of 2017 revealed that people feel threatened by digital. Many different functions, groups and communities within organisations are fearful of big data and automation, and by the rapidly changing digital landscape. Call centre staff fear being replaced by chatbots, managers by dashboards, and product experts by knowledge bases. Even leaders themselves feel undermined by the rise of social networks and knowledge sharing platforms such as Yammer.
When discussing digital, there is also a tendency to head for extreme examples as we try to visualise what ‘digital’ means for us. We end up talking about driverless cars, the rise of robots, or other data-driven solutions that will fundamentally change the world. But it’s much more difficult for people to identify exactly what digital means for their organisation, and to discuss practical responses that are appropriate for their specific context.
The good news is that, at least for the foreseeable future, we’re finding that people have a more and more important role in the development of organisations. We humans are increasingly essential because of our ability to understand customers’ context. Our ability to understand context enables us to provide the right data, ask the right questions, educate the algorithms and set the business rules for AI.
More importantly, humans are also the best way of dealing with the people element in all these interactions. For example, front-line staff often want to deal with people issues rather than technical issues. Managers want to manage people rather than data. Leaders want to be free to manage their people, but from a perspective of having more knowledge.
Making your business more human
To keep people engaged, it’s therefore important that digital is perceived as an advantage and not a threat. Organisations should be using technology to do more innovative work or increase capacity, not simply reduce operating costs. The only work that should be automated is the work that people don’t want to do, or work that overloads their cognitive capacity.
Let’s say that a company is generating 10,000 hours a month of work. The digital advantage means that 5,000 hours of this work can be done by machines, extending the total capacity of the organisation to 15,000 hours. Technology is freeing up the humans to be more human, and to do the creative work that brings new innovations and adds more value to the business.
Digital can free employees up to do the things that add value to them and to the business. It can – and should - make businesses more human.
Shifting to a digital mindset
Surprisingly, some of the more ‘human’ brands are the ones that are finding it difficult to adapt to a more digital environment. Organisations can find it uncomfortable when data reveals the disconnect between what people say they will do and what they actually do. Often, the introduction of digital tools provides new evidence for what is really happening, and this can at first be disorientating – especially if it contradicts what we believe to be true. Tools that reveal actual sales conversion rates or data on real world call resolution are common examples of this.
So if digital is challenging the mindset of all the people who work in our businesses, our businesses need to adapt accordingly. But how?
Here are some things to think about:
- Don’t ask if digital is changing your environment, ask how.
- Use customers’ data with respect, and with good intention. If you don’t use customers’ data wisely you will rapidly destroy their trust and risk losing them.
- Focus on how you can reduce effort for your customers and for your employees. Reducing effort underpins the digital mindset, so reducing effort for customers and employees must be the primary objective.
- Make sure your business really understands the difference between customer service and customer experience. This means we need to understand our customers’ actual needs, not how these needs are interpreted through current product and service standards. Step away from the method of delivery and look at the core need.
And remember: adopting a digital mindset means changing the game, not just the tools.