Is Your Customer Engagement in Sync with the Digital Disruption?

Since 2000, 52 percent of Fortune 500 companies have merged, been acquired, gone bankrupt, or otherwise fallen off the list, according to R. Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research. This sobering statistic made the audience at the recent Kana Connect Conference, held in San Francisco, sit up a bit straighter, as Wang explained how digital transformation is changing the customer experience.

And while it's too late for the companies that have already fallen victim to the digital transformation, Wang offered suggestions for companies that want to not only survive the digital changes, but also use them to their advantage.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

For starters, organizations will have to look at—or reconsider—how they digitally engage with customers or workers whom they have segmented by age. Wang suggested that more than a person's age can, digital proficiency—how much a person knows about or uses technology—provides a more accurate picture of digital users, or what Wang categorizes as "generations."

"This is not about generational warfare—Gen X versus Gen Y versus Millennials," Wang said. "This is about a different way to look at what's happening in the workforce."

The digital native group, for example, is extremely comfortable engaging with all digital channels. Typically, Millennials would be the first age group to come to mind at the mention of digital natives. However, Wang points out that the native generation could very well include people in their 70s who were at the forefront of the Internet scene in the 2000s and are very proficient in their online activities.

Digital immigrants, on the other hand, use both old-school methods and new digital solutions. This group has crossed the chasm into the digital world and has been forced into engagement with digital changes. As an example, Wang pointed to several people in the audience who were taking notes by hand to later input into a file.

Another group, digital voyeurs, has looked around and seen changes; members of this group are not particularly for or against digital shifts, they're just aware of them.

The digital holdouts just plain refuse to use new technology.

Lastly, there is the digital disengaged generation, which as their name suggests, resist changes as technology shifts. "They worry that every click, every digital document, every login, is going to be tracked and are worried about privacy and think this is dangerous," Wang said.

"If you think about these things from a different perspective, this changes the way we look at customer experience, the workforce, and how we engage with folks," Wang said. "Just because someone doesn't want to use a different kind of device or engage in a different way as a customer doesn't mean they're Luddites; it just means they're not comfortable with that, the digital proficiency aspect of that."

Although many companies have different customer engagement strategies for each channel, Wang said they should not have silos around technology for channels, such as mobile and social.

For instance, while many businesses have mobile initiatives in place, Wang believes it isn't necessary to have a separate strategy. "The most important thing when you think about mobile is that it's not about the device," he said.

While companies might know about digital, they might not be bringing all the disparate technologies together. "You know about social, mobile, big data, but you're not realizing that they're converging. You don't have a separate social strategy or mobile strategy. None of this is about a set of technologies," Wang said."That's the big shift, that's the convergence."

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