Reimagining customer experience (CX) to meet the changing needs of that demanding audience is a primary driver for today’s organizations to embark on digital transformation (DT) projects. However, it’s crucial to the success of CX and DT endeavors that your reinvention work addresses not only customer-facing front-end processes but also includes transforming back-end processes such as order management and inventory management.

After all, what customers are looking for from organizations like yours to provide, are experiences that are easy, simple, effortless, and repeatable. That means re-envisioning both the processes that the customers themselves see and engage with as well as all of your internal operations which help behind the scenes to ensure that customers’ shifting purchasing preferences and buying behaviors are always fully served.

For instance, take the experiences that a customer will have with a healthcare insurance provider. Whether it’s onboarding as a new customer, policy renewal, or billing, the emphasis is always on making the customer experience painless so it’s clearly understandable and consumable. Health insurance new customer onboarding may include a customized online welcome video to help make that first-touch experience feel more personalized. Simple and comprehensive experiences help to drive customer retention.

The Ongoing Rise of Customer-centricity

As we noted in our earlier article describing five best practices to assure a successful digital transformation, any revamping of customer experience must be an integral part of an organization’s overarching digital transformation project. Every organization in every industry is adjusting to a world that continues to become more and more customer-centric. The power balance has tilted away from the traditional product-centric, vendor-led focus of customer engagements.

The once typical relationship between an organization and its prospective or existing customers is no longer a brief "one-and-done" encounter with the end-goal being the sale of your products or services. The emphasis today, from the very first contact with a customer, is for organizations to start laying the foundations for a long-term partnership built on trust and transparency.

These types of deeper relationships afford many benefits for your organization. They not only open the door to possible product and service upselling and cross-selling, but they also provide the ability for your organization to collaborate with your customers at every stage of a product’s or service’s lifecycle. This is also the case for your R&D projects, where early customer feedback may prove invaluable in fast-tracking an offering that resonates well with them or may lead you to freeze or even cancel work which doesn’t excite your customers.

Related Article: 5 Essential Steps on Your Road to Digital Transformation

Use Customer Data Intelligently

Organizations today are also amassing vast amounts of real-time, accurate customer data, thanks to the increasing sophistication of marketing tools, which are able to capture every single customer engagement across all of your organization’s touchpoints. By applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to your customer information, you can gain deeper insights into customer behavior, which you can then use as the basis for reshaping customer experience to generate a competitive advantage for your organization.

The migration of consumer-type expectations to the business world will continue meaning that your customers will anticipate fast product fulfillment and delivery as well as a rapid response to any questions they submit to your organization. Existing customers also harbor high expectations for engagements with your organization. They expect that you will know them since you have previously requested their data.

Increasingly, organizations are coming under pressure to be more transparent about how they capture and then use customer data. If you are upfront with your customers about your plans for their information and how you will protect their data privacy, they will be more likely to trust you and to then respond positively to any requests they receive from your organization to share additional data.

Build Trust and Loyalty with Your Customers

In today’s markets, customers typically show little loyalty and may switch from one vendor to another and then circle back to the original vendor. You want your customer experience to allow such flexibility — customers hate feeling locked into any vendor — but simultaneously, you need to also provide compelling reasons for customers to remain with your organization. For example, perhaps your customer onboarding process is superior to that of your competitors since it’s fast and intuitive and therefore painless to your customers.

You may also consider how data sharing can become more of a two-way street. Perhaps your organization can share additional relevant information with customers which may help them in product usage or provide them with an additional service. For instance, a retailer might go the extra mile for a customer and put them in touch with their favorite fashion house to provide additional advice on style. Alternatively, as a smart device manufacturer, you can take elements of customer data and wrap them up into a service or an application to offer customers additional health monitoring information.

If your organization opens up more data to your customers, those customers may then be both motivated and willing to share more of their data with you.

Create Consistency Across Customer Experiences

One key goal in rethinking customer experience is to ensure you provide a consistent experience to your customers regardless of when, where, and how they choose to engage with your organization. The customer experience should be the same or nearly identical whether they contact you in-person, online, or via their smartphone; whether it’s 8 a.m. or 11 p.m.; no matter where the customer is located in the world; and no matter which of your departments they opt to approach – be it sales, marketing, in a brick-and-mortar store, via ecommerce, customer support, or a call center.

As far as your customer is concerned, your organization, with its multiple departments and potentially multiple global locations, is a single entity. They expect consistent, predictable experiences with your organization. Customers also anticipate that they can start their engagement with you from one channel and one device, and then carry it on via another channel and a second device, and perhaps complete the transaction through a third channel and/or device. Think of a customer who starts a product search at home using their laptop computer and locates your website. They then perhaps continue engaging with your organization via their mobile device and then end up using an in-store kiosk and purchasing a product from one of your physical stores.

Learning Opportunities

In order to ensure such consistency of experience, you’ll need to take a hard look at your current business processes, both customer-facing and support operations. You’ll be looking to identify any areas that may at present act as bottlenecks or obstacles to providing consistency and efficiency in your customer engagements.

Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes

When rethinking customer experience, you need to start from the perspective of the customer since they will be the primary consumer of the experience. By having empathy for the customer and approaching the experience as though you’re in the role of the customer, you can make sure that the engagements will be customer-centric and not treat the customer as an afterthought. Remember, many of your front-end and back-end processes may have originally been built around the needs of your organization as a seller of products and services.

As you revamp business processes with the customer in mind, don’t forget about your employees and their experience. If you’re going to engage at a deeper level with your customers, you also need to empower your employees with ready access to accurate, up-to-date, and relevant customer data so they can directly help and support your customers, as well as represent your brand’s experience.

Your Customers Expect You to ‘Know’ Them

As they enter into the latest engagement with you, your existing customers expect you to already “know” them and for the experience you provide them to be insight-driven, in other words, to be built on all the information they’ve provided previously to your organization.

So, when you’re redesigning customer experiences, think about how you can ensure that customers don’t have to re-enter the same data every time they engage with you. Part of that work will be to make sure that you have a single identity for each customer, rather than multiple instances of that one customer.

Given the knowledge you have already gained about a particular customer, that customer will anticipate a more personalized experience with your organization, one that’s tailored to their individual interests and needs. That means that any product recommendation or discount offer should be built on what your organization has previously learned about a specific customer and their buying patterns.

For example, consider how a retailer engages with a current customer who intends to buy a single article of clothing. As the customer is engaging with you, the best recommendations to serve up in the moment are suggesting additional items and accessories which would best complement that initial planned single item purchase. Perhaps, there’s a particular discount you can offer that customer should they purchase an outfit rather than one item of clothing.

Create Experiences for the ‘Connected Customer’

Ultimately, what you’re aiming at in rethinking your customer experience as part of digital transformation is a concept we at OpenText call the “connected customer.” What we aim to do is to help organizations using our solutions unify all of their departments which engage with customers and combine all of those different groups’ sources of customer data. Additionally,we provide common tools and technologies so your organization can communicate with your customers continuously and consistently via the channel of their choosing.

This work forms the building blocks for ensuring that you can provide optimal customer experiences and, at the same time, create stronger bonds between your organization and your customers. The outcome is that your organization, as a product or services vendor, becomes a partner and advisor to your customers through the use of insight-driven customer experiences.

As you use customer data to help your organization anticipate what your customers may do next, you want to continually refine your customer experiences. So, your digital transformation becomes fully customer-centric and built around taking what you know about customer purchasing intent and providing experiences that benefit and enhance that behavior.