October 25, 2021

Why Customer Experience Should Drive Digital Transformation

Richard Trigg

Design Partner

Article 35

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Digital transformation used to be about 'going digital'. But that doesn't go far enough. To stay relevant, you have to evolve with customers' changing needs and create experiences that matter to them.

In the past two years, we’ve seen COVID-19 catapult digital transformation at least five years into the future. It used to be about bringing your businesses processes online, now it’s much, much more than that.

Research by McKinsey shows the pandemic has caused a “Great consumer shift”, with over 75% of people changing how they interact and shop online.

As a result, most people – both young and old – have higher than ever expectations for seamless, personalised experiences.

"Most companies must realize that they are no longer competing against the guy down the street or the brand that sells similar products. Instead, they’re competing with every other experience a customer has.” 

- Dan Gingiss, Author and Customer Experience Expert


That includes the likes of Netflix, Uber, Apple and Amazon, who are leagues ahead of everyone else - and have the revenue to prove it.

Research has continually shown a link between customer experience and sales. But today, it’s so important that, according to the Salesforce “State of the Connected Customer” report, 80% of customers now say the experiences provided by a company are as important to them as its products and services.

In other words, customer experience is your brand.

Your business survival depends on how well you evolve to meet customers’ changing needs and expectations.


So where do you start?

I’ve outlined five key steps that are important on the journey to customer-experience (CX) driven digital transformation.


  1. Strategy first, technology second

Digital transformation is about using digital tools and processes to solve problems. To solve these problems, you have to truly understand them. In the case of CX-driven transformation, that means understanding your brand promise and mapping the customer experience against it. Where are you falling short? What kind of experience are they looking for? What are their frustrations right now? Once you understand this, you can find the right technical solutions to bridge those gaps.


  1. Get management buy-in

One of the major reasons digital transformation fails is due to weak management buy-in. If management isn’t on the same page, there will be conflicting organisational priorities and direction. It’s important to ensure goals and measurements are shared across teams to help encourage everyone to work together as one.


  1. Build capable digital delivery teams

CX-focused digital transformation is a way of being, rather than merely doing. It’s about a focus on what’s right for the customer, rather than just what’s right or easiest for the business. It’s important to have capable teams who share that ethos and have the skills to see it through. After all, nothing gets done without teams.


  1. Start small

Don’t feel like you have to make huge waves straight away. At Tangent, we like to start off with lighthouse projects. These are small scale, impactful initial projects that solve one problem at a time. They can act as a guiding light for all future works. Lighthouse projects facilitate learning and allow you to test your ideas and solutions one step at a time, leading to bigger changes over time.


  1. Test and adapt

As I said in our guide to remote user testing, no plan survives first contact with your customer. If you change a process or put out a product without any testing at all, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. Effective digital transformation is all about testing, learning, and adapting. It’s a continuous process rather than a once and done project.


Developing winning CX strategies

To compete and survive in our digital-first world means transforming operating models and processes to fit around your customer’s needs rather than business needs alone. To really understand where your opportunities lie, in-depth user experience research is critical.


Case study: Sky Business

As part of our customer experience innovation project for Sky Business, we shadowed publicans around the UK as they went about their day-to-day tasks. As a result, we were able to truly understand their context, intent and frustrations, identifying over 150 opportunities to improve Sky’s customer acquisition and retention. We then worked to prioritise them by potential, importance and ease, building out an actionable roadmap of both quick and longer-term wins.

So what are some CX-driven digital transformation quick wins? A good place to start is by improving your omnichannel experiences.

In an always-on world where everyone is connected, it’s vital to offer a seamless, enjoyable – and ideally personalised – experience across your websites, apps and social media. But this should always be driven by the needs, problems and desires of your unique customers.

Ultimately it always boils down to asking, “What do the people we’re trying to reach care about, and how can we create experiences that matter to them?”

Read more about our work with Sky Business here.