A desk/whiteboard with workplace application diagrams all over it.
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Recent research from Gartner underscores something many digital workers have suspected for quite some time. At least 84 percent of consumers across all industries say their experiences using digital tools and services fall short of expectations. In order to understand what was happening with customers who were interacting with organizations that had made the digital leap and created digital workplaces, Gartner conducted an in-depth survey that focused on engagement with and reactions to common digital use cases across 11 industries.

The research was conducted online from September to October 2017, and included 4,060 respondents in the UK and the US. The results were published in the report titled CIOs Must Help Close the Gap Between CEOs’ Digital Ambitions and Consumers’ Digital Perceptions (Fee Required).

The digital use cases included actions such as placing a retail order, submitting a service request to a bank, purchasing life insurance, paying a government bill, and checking the status of healthcare benefits. The specific elements of total digital experience probed were consumers’ level of trust, perceived ease of use, and benefits received, such as saving time or money.

The results, for digital enterprises, were worrying (and unsurprising for many). It showed that only:

  • 16 percent of respondents rate their digital experience offering in the top 25 percent.
  • 26 percent rated digital banking experiences as in the bottom half of digital experiences.
  • 49 percent rated digital government experiences in the bottom half.

Differences in adoption by age or generation were also key factors. Not surprisingly, millennials are generally a lot more engaged digitally than their older peers. The survey found that at least two-thirds of millennials use retailers’, manufacturers’ and utilities’ digital services. The research identified two principal characteristics that digital experiences should offer:

Ease of use - According to the research ease of use is a critical element of a positive experience. Online retailers have innovated continuously to reduce the instances of shopping cart abandonment and other blockers that threaten transaction completion. Banks have invested in simplifying processes such as submitting a service request or using chat for support. Those efforts have substantially improved consumer perception regarding ease of use.

Consumer trust - Along with ease of use, trust is a key component of a consumer’s satisfaction with a digital experience. According to the research, banks enjoy the highest level of trust among consumers. Yet skeptics remain, as 18 percent of consumers choose not to use bank’s online services.

Related Article: 7 Ways to Improve Your Company's Employee Experience

Digital Experiences Are Not Customer Experiences

Jim Sinur is a research vice president at Aragon Research (and a former Gartner VP) He is not surprised by the findings. He said it makes perfect sense that a large majority of consumers say their digital experiences fall short of their expectations, because organizations that have embraced digital have done it to focus almost exclusively on their own operational efficiency.

Of course, while most organizations have gone mobile and are equipped to handle multiple channels, few organizations have taken an outside-in view of services and products, and few leverage customer journeys, better processes, personas, and Natural Language Programming-enhanced digital assistants.

Because of this, consumers are usually forced to traverse an organization’s skill silos to attain their personal goals, whether that means jumping around voice enabled servicing, leveraging multiple calls, or self-servicing on difficult web sites. “Organizations have a long way to go to change this situation. Often, new process models aligned with customer journeys are the requirements for success. The ball is in the organization’s court to take on better end-to-end customer journeys,” Sinur said.

Related Article: Why You Need to Map the Employee Journey

Why Personalization Creates Problems

Many digital transformations initiatives across industries are driven by the mandate of delivering better customer experience with hyper-personalization. Such personalization depends on a very deep understanding of the customer, their needs, preferences, behavior, choices, demographics and socio-economic information.

According to Ajay Khanna, vice president of marketing at Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Reltio, disconnected channels, systems and applications must come together to create a single source of truth of reliable customer data to deliver relevancy and personalization. In addition, companies must adhere to compliance requirements such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR.) This requires collecting and understanding all available customer data from all internal, external and third-party sources.

Organizations have deployed various systems including data warehouses, business intelligence tools, customer hubs, and lately, data lakes to solve this challenge.

However, Khanna said that the outcome of these initiatives has not been great. There has been no significant improvement in customer digital experience or impact on the bottom line. The data sources and formats have grown at a much faster rate than these solutions can adapt. As IT struggles to tame this beast, business needs change, new applications are onboarded, and data keeps on getting fragmented and murkier.

For digital experience initiatives to be successful, companies need to ensure that the data driving the processes and consumer engagement is reliable and compliant. “This requires the ability to connect to all necessary data sources of different formats, and match and merge the data to create a clean, reliable customer data foundation,” he said.

This helps create a progressively richer profile of the consumer. When you add new systems to your infrastructure, or you purchase a new data source, make sure they're connected to the existing data hub quickly and can access the consumer information from the same single source of truth. “As you deploy new channels, they contribute to a richer view into the customer journey along a single timeline. Such agility and flexibility are essential for today's dynamic business environment and for delivering the desired digital experience,” he added.

Conclusion

The trend of digitalization of the workplace is challenging businesses to adapt quickly to meet the needs of their talent and customers. While a simple solution is to update current business technology to the latest and most effective technology, business leaders need to keep in mind that any changes in the enterprise digital workplace will have an impact on the customer experiences. A poor digital workplace strategy inevitably leads to poor customer experiences, a fact which the Gartner research underlines only too well.