3 Ways Digital Transformation Is Driving Customer Experience

Throughout the years, the basic needs of customers have stayed the same: They want to buy products and services that work. However, the expectations customers have when they interact with a company and how that company responds to issues, requests, and questions have evolved. This, coupled with the sheer volume and velocity of customer inquiries across digital channels, is driving digital transformation.

Organizations are competing on experience. If companies don't deliver on these evolved expectations, customers will vote with their dollars in favor of a company that does.

But, digital transformation is changing customer service in the following three ways:

1. It's cleaning up the messy middle.

Companies have invested heavily in customer engagement channels, from customer contact centers and websites to mobile apps and chatbots. While giving customers the opportunity to engage from anywhere is critical, it isn't enough on its own. To truly transform customer service, organizations need to focus on the work required behind the scenes to get the job done, which often involves multiple teams and systems.

Up until this point, many organizations have relied on manual processes and siloed systems that don't work together. If a customer calls a bank to stop a payment transaction, he will likely start by calling or emailing customer service. The customer service agent fielding the request will then need to connect with the payment operations team to resolve the issue. This seemingly simple request has multiple steps that take time and effort when done manually, but can be streamlined with automation.

Organizations that empower the entire organization to fulfill a customer request will deliver great customer experiences.

2. It's driving proactive service.

Digital transformation is enabling proactive service at scale in a way that wasn't possible before. If processes are digitized, when there's a problem with a product or service, customer service teams can see which customers are impacted and proactively reach out to let them know about the issue and its status. This provides a better customer experience while also improving the employee experience. By deflecting calls and complaints, agents can spend more time on complex, meaningful work.

Think about an event that is being livestreamed. If technology issues prevent the livestream from airing properly, it sets the stage for a disastrous customer experience. Customers who bought the service will be frustrated when they realize they've purchased something that's broken. Customer service teams will be overwhelmed with a flood of complaints, ranging from reporting the issue, to inquiring when the service will be up, to asking for money back. This is an enormous burden on customer service teams that need to understand the issue, come up with a plan to triage the problem, and direct customers to the right team for remediation, all in real time.

Customer service teams need tools that help them handle a situation like this head on rather than trying to play catchup. The second a problem is identified, automation can help proactively inform customers of the issue to deflect cases or even temporarily prevent customers from making the purchase until the problem is resolved.

Automation and digital tools help teams communicate in real-time so that the information they're giving customers is accurate and consistent. Simply, digital transformation can automate processes and break down siloes so teams can proactively communicate with customers and prevent bad experiences before they happen.

3. It's revolutionizing field service management.

The unsung heroes of customer service are often the people sent to complete a task in the field (think: a technician sent to install Wi-Fi or fix an HVAC system). Because field workers interact with customers in person, they play a key role as the face of the company. Thus, their ability to provide positive experiences is critical to overall customer satisfaction.

Digital transformation is helping connect remote support agents with field service technicians on site, providing them with the right mobile tools and information to solve issues quickly the first time.

Augmented reality (AR) software and hardware is also becoming more commonplace as technicians work to maintain and repair equipment. Companies are using AR to onboard new technicians, building training exercises using digital models of equipment with side-by-side guided instructions. Technicians can use these tools for high-quality, on-demand practice, giving companies a new way to preserve institutional knowledge and make training more impactful. This helps ensure the customer experience remains stellar, even with a less-tenured team.

Perhaps the biggest impact that digital transformation efforts have on field service is the ability to help companies service customers and equipment more proactively. IoT can continuously monitor the health of systems and, when combined with digital tools, can alert service teams when a device is performing suboptimally, schedule service, and inform the customer, sometimes before the customer even knows there's a problem.

Retailers manage a tremendous amount of digital technology, like point-of-sale systems and inventory tracking, in every store. If any of those systems begin to fail, it can have negative consequences for customers, store employees, and the retailers' bottom line. IoT combined with digital monitoring tools help quickly mobilize tech teams, increasing overall uptime and time to resolution, simplifying processes for store managers, and providing a more consistent experience for customers.

Creating great customer experiences is key to driving loyalty. That experience is built up over time across every interaction a customer has with a company, whether that's through its products, the people with whom the customer interacts, or the digital tools the customer uses to connect with the company. Digital transformation allows organizations to break down silos, automate processes, and orchestrate workflows to leverage the full company and deliver better customer experiences across every interaction.

Michael Ramsey is vice president of customer and industry workflows at ServiceNow.