The customer has already transformed. And it is the customer who will transform the organization.

Citizens Advice is a wonderfully clear and concise service for citizens of the UK, helping them with things like money management, housing, discrimination, etc. Citizens Advice makes publicly available a live dashboard of searches and trending topics. Anyone can see what’s important, what’s trending with Citizens Advice customers. This is a simple but very powerful idea.

What’s the one thing most missing from the majority of organizations today? The customer. 

Digital technology has been widely used to replace employee-customer interactions with digital-customer interactions. The customer is vanishing from the organization. Without interaction with the customer it is almost impossible to build empathy for them, and empathy for the customer is the most valuable skill in digital transformation.

Out of sight is out of mind. It cuts both ways. When the customer has no more human interactions with the organization, how loyal is the customer going to be? When the organization has no empathy for the customer, why would we expect the customer to have empathy for the organization?

That’s why what Citizens Advice is doing with its dashboard is so important. It’s about bringing the customer in and bringing employees ‘out’ to the customer. 

We must find ways to visualize the experience of the customer. We must spread this visual experience everywhere. In the reception, in the hallways, in the offices —everywhere. We must flood the organization with the experience of the customer.

Digital transformation is customer-centricity. The customer has already transformed. Digital has emancipated the customer. Smartphones have made them smarter, the web has made them super-connected and social media is their broadcast medium. The modern customer and citizen is more powerful, skeptical, cynical and action-oriented than they have ever been in history.

Learning Opportunities

A surprising number of organizations have not transformed. When you walk into most organizations they are vastly behind when it comes to the use of simple and effective technologies to help their employees do their jobs. For probably the first time in history, customers are more organized than many organizations. That’s radical.

Digital transformation is customer-centricity. It’s about survival. The transformation begins when everyone in the organization starts thinking about how they can make their customers’ lives simpler and better. Empathy will drive that thinking and the best way to develop empathy is to continuously show the experiences people are having.

Search and other data analytics are a start, but data is cold. Every day, organizations should be observing customers as they try to complete top tasks. All employees should be mandated to spend at least four hours a month watching these customers. The videos of these customers should run continuously behind the reception desk. A five-minute summary should be presented before every management and board meeting. Bring the customer in. Flood the organization with the experience of the customer. That’s how true digital transformation occurs.

I would love to hear about other examples of how organizations have brought the customer in.

Editor's Note: Gerry McGovern will be speaking at CMSWire's DX Summit next month in Chicago. The conference runs from Nov. 14 to Nov. 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel. McGovern will be diving deep into the culture that digital transformation demands.