How to overcome CX debt and deliver a seamless customer experience
Digital transformation efforts were rapidly accelerated in the past year or so, as companies grabbed at the ‘digital lifejacket’ to remain afloat, while the world was being flooded with a life threatening pandemic.
Unfortunately, the pace at which change was forced meant that it was a matter of ‘just get something working’ for many organisations.
This meant that the emphasis was on speed and function, rather than on building a seamless customer experience (CX). It was understandable at the time that changes were made without putting CX front and centre, but organisations cannot allow it to remain that way.
To survive, thrive, and take advantage of any economic recovery, your organisation needs to put proper emphasis on CX. Make it the cornerstone of your digital transformation efforts.
Why CX got left behind in the great digital transformation flood of 2020
In order to understand the current state of CX, it’s worth looking at how much things changed.
According to research from cloud communication platform Twilio, COVID-19 accelerated companies’ digital communications strategy by a global average of 6 years.
In South Africa, the impact was particularly marked. While only 37% of South African companies had a digital transformation strategy at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, 94.5% of local companies now recognize the value of digital transformation as a critical aspect of business, according to Cisco.
When there is an urgent business requirement, as there was in 2020, decisions are often based on what technology is available immediately to fulfil a function, even though it may not be the best technology for the job. Also, with the emphasis on ‘getting something working’ – the focus is on technology and the related decisions are made by IT and solution architects.
While the decisions made in such a scenario might feel like the best option for ‘right now’, it can reinforce the very same siloes that digital transformation is meant to break down.
Real digital transformation isn’t just about technology, it’s about shifting mindsets across the organisation. Even more importantly, it’s about creating the best possible experience for the customer, especially when it comes to digital communication.
What is CX debt?
The result of this focus on technology is that companies are sitting with a backlog of CX debt.
Technical debt is defined on Wikipedia as:
A concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.
CX debt meanwhile refers to the rework required to review customer journeys and touchpoints, and identify fractures that are the result of quick fixes and MVPs implemented in response to the pandemic.
Although CX debt can seem daunting, if not addressed, the problem will just get bigger. And in the case of CX debt, it’s exponential growth.
It’s time to pay back your CX debt and deliver a seamless customer experience
That said, if your company was forced into accelerated digital transformation, it’s not too late to shift your focus to paying back your CX debt
The first step is to review your customer journeys, to understand how the changes you’ve made in systems and processes have affected customer touchpoints.
From there, you can remedy things such as:
- Siloed digital strategy: With limited time to make changes, different areas of the business will likely have implemented their own siloed approaches to engaging and servicing their customers.
- Legacy technology and thinking: In times of stress and urgency, businesses revert to what they know, resulting in new, pointless solutions being built on top of old or incorrect technology. If a new or existing technology doesn’t build on the customer experience, it should be cut from the digital transformation strategy.
- Solution redundancy: Siloed strategies and implementations lead to a proliferation of solution redundancy, as each business unit seeks to resolve its immediate pain. A customer-centric digital transformation strategy will break down those silos.
- Inconsistent experiences: Siloed strategies and implementations lead to fractured, inconsistent experiences across the business and even within the same journeys. No matter which department a customer is dealing with, the overall experience should feel the same.
- Isolated channels: Meeting the customer needs as quickly as possible means that there is limited integration and seamless hand-off between channels, and no strategic drive for cross-channel adoption. A good digital transformation strategy will allow customers to easily switch between channels according to their needs at the time.
Finally, organisations need to check that their communications comply with accessibility regulations. That’s because where communications were quickly migrated onto digital channels, there may not have been an opportunity to ensure that associated documents, emails, and landing pages adhered to accessibility requirements.
Customer experience remains the key differentiator between businesses
Much has changed over the last year, but one thing that’s remained constant is CX’s role as the key differentiator between businesses. While new ways of working and dealing with customers have become normal, don’t let that get in the way of providing customers with a great experience, especially when it comes to digital communications.