Transform Your Organization, Not Just Your Technology

People are a big part of the equation when it comes to digital transformation.

by Adobe Experience Cloud

posted on 12-05-2018

Companies succeeding today are centered on — and obsessed with — customer experience. Since so much of today’s business is done online, becoming customer obsessed may require first-rate digital experiences built with the hottest new tech.

Imagine a company using a chatbot on their site, designed to make a great first impression for customers seeking the help desk. But what if the bot functions more as a gatekeeper than an automated assistant? The wrong chatbot could be pushing customers away from positive brand engagements instead of drawing them in.

A chatbot may be customer engaging, but is it necessarily customer-centric? Advanced technology alone isn’t enough to create compelling customer experiences.

Transforming an organization isn’t just about upgrading technology to ensure you have a new chatbot. Digital transformation is about shifting your organization’s culture, ethos, and mindset from the top down. It’s about aligning digital experience technologies, strategy, and platforms with the overriding business goal of consistently delivering great customer experiences. Above all, it’s about the people who make up your organization.

Let’s not downplay the obvious importance of the right technology investments, but, without the right strategy and people in place, it may be impossible to truly transform an organization into being customer-centric. By getting four critical pillars in place, an organization can be a powerful experience business — well-aligned where it matters most, and, as a result, the company can grow, scale, and evolve with its customers.

Pillar #1: Create strategic goals aligned to a specific timeline

If your company is serious about digitally transforming to become a more customer-centric organization, begin by clearly defining digital marketing strategic goals, KPIs, and timelines. Initiatives need to be well articulated and work in tandem with their supporting KPIs to provide an actionable level of detail for supporting cross-functional teams.

For example, your strategy may be to grow customer interactions on your site through the chat feature, by 15 percent in the next two quarters. When you define clearly what you want to achieve, you can more easily align the remaining pillars and move forward effectively and efficiently.

“Digital marketing requires a new approach — setting up all marketing initiatives with trackable KPIs and evaluating learnings so you can reengage into the strategy.” says Emily Moreno, multi-solution architect at Adobe. “You can’t do the traditional marketing ‘spray and pray’ method anymore.”

Central to a company’s digital experience strategy, she notes, is analytics/reporting, business intelligence, and customer experience management (CXM). Disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive analytics, and customer profiles are also worth experimenting with to create an effective digital experience platform.

Once digital marketing initiatives begin, “organizations should establish quarterly reviews incorporating customer metrics and key learnings that influence strategic goal reprioritization and supporting process,” Emily says. “It’s the only way to ensure they’re continuing to meet KPIs while scaling and shifting to meet consumer demands.”

Pillar #2: Empower employees as “experience makers”

Thirty-one percent of digital transformations fail because of company culture. More than half fail because of staff-related issues — a lack of staff resources or human barriers like fear and egos.

Once your digital marketing goals are defined, you must empower your employees to champion customer experiences — to be true “ experience makers” within your company. Aligning teams to the common strategic goals, a unified set of digital marketing KPIs, and technology can help eliminate marketing silos that often block cross-functional collaboration.

“When businesses are getting started [on implementing digital experiences], they forget you have to plan for shifts in the workforce to thrive in this new world. You have to help the team you have rapidly develop new skills and hire for the gaps to be able to build experiences, and to deliver these new cool engagements,” says Chris Hall, vice president and general manager of customer experience at Adobe. “That’s a hard, hard, thing to do.”

It’s critical that teams have high-level alignment with the organization’s vision and goals, as well as high autonomy to get work done in the way they deem best, notes Dan Fischer, digital experience and services lead at Qantas Airways. To be successful, high-autonomy teams need sound decision making, prioritization, and organization skills, as well as business acumen, and, as transformational leaders, it’s essential to help employees gain these skills.

Transformation also means changing how you engage teams. Often that starts with breaking down traditional silos to encourage and facilitate collaboration and commit to the level of transparency and communication needed to keep transformation moving forward. This results in KPIs supporting marketing goals, and businesses creating — and acting on — effective cross-departmental campaigns,

“But, more importantly, it’s a culture change,” Dan says. “Gone are the days where we’re waiting to hear the things we should be doing. We are charting our own course — and we’re communicating upwards about what we’re doing aligned to the goals — which is then being validated.”

Pillar #3: Build customer-focused processes

If the “people pillar” involves pushing a cultural change in your company, and education around the new vision for digital experiences, the “process” element means defining the road map for these teams. With clear processes in place, customer experience-focused teams can effectively implement the organization’s vision.

Successful new processes require owners — who will determine new tools needed, what the technology should be, how the data will be managed and analyzed, and who oversees content strategy. Employees need to understand who is in charge, and what’s expected of them. This will also highlight shifts in skill sets required to support new initiatives. In most cases, this means added training and ongoing employee support, plus full-scale analyses of staffing structures. The right staffing will ensure deliveries are instep with strategic goals.

While this may sound time-consuming and requiring deep change management, there’s a good chance the basic foundation already exists within your organization, Chris says.

“You have deep experience in your existing employees,” she says. “You want to draw that experience out. They know the products and the services you create, and they usually have a solid understanding of your customers. What they’re lacking is permission to think differently and go about their work in different ways.”

Pillar #4: Implement transformative technology

Transformative technology is important, but it can’t be effective on its own. Instead, C-suite leaders must work with digital experience professionals and line-of-business managers to tie the digital experience technology stack to a larger vision that can drive organizational transformation.

“Starting with technology before you’ve addressed the other pillars is essentially implementing solutions before you’ve figured out your problems,” Emily says. Without the processes and people to implement the technology effectively — and the strategy to connect the dots — it’s virtually impossible to maximize your investment, let alone create seamless, high-value experiences.

By having the people, processes, and technology work together, businesses can create a solid ecosystem that delivers customer experiences in a holistic way. This four-pillar approach ensures experiences are contextual and consistent, leveraging the technology to effectively respond to customers’ needs.

But like the preceding pillars, organizations must “check in” with their technology once it’s implemented. “It’s a continuous investment,” Chris says. “Once you build an experience you can’t just leave it and let it run itself. You have to look at what’s going on with it, and you have to continually optimize. You have to make sure you’re building operational capabilities to keep these things going and improving.”

The case for being “customer obsessed”

A “tech-plus” mentality — aligning digital experience technologies, strategy, architecture, and experience makers — is essential to delivering dynamic customer experiences. “This kind of technology is like a race car,” Emily says. “If no one is driving it, if you don’t know how to drive it, or if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s just going to sit around.”

Chris agrees, and notes the immediate customer impact from aligning these pillars. “Anywhere you have an online presence and access to data, you need to put those things together and start to meet customers where you think they are.”

Together, the four-pillar approach can help businesses truly transform, versus simply upgrading technology. It ensures experiences are contextual and consistent, leveraging your technology to effectively respond to customers’ needs.

“I think the place to start is you really have to understand what it is that your customers are trying to accomplish, and how they’re trying to drive value from your brand,” says Chris. “The only way to be customer-centric is to start with them.”

For more insights on what it takes to become an experience-driven business, read more in our “Overheard in the C-Suite” series.

Topics: Digital Transformation

Products: Experience Cloud