Large and enterprise sized businesses are often treated as success stories, and rightly so. They operate proven business models, with engaged audiences, repeat custom and branding that helps them stand from the crowd. But let’s not forget that there’s that old adage, ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall.’
This statement has never been more relevant than in today’s climate. Just because a brand operates in forty countries, with over 5000 staff and millions in revenue, the pressure to succeed is enormous and failure can hinge on the smallest of decisions. If you fail to act on emerging trends, you might find yourself falling behind the competition, if you offer a poor user experience (UX) you could lose customers, and if you implement sub-standard technological developments and strategies then the damage to your brand and ultimately your finances could be catastrophic.
Why are we telling you this? Well, because it happens every single day. Businesses fall into the trap of doing what has worked in the past, they make excuses for poor sales figures or low web traffic and struggle to invest in future touchpoints based on actual market data.
Businesses across the globe worry about how they can best meet the needs of their customers, and this is something that has only become more prominent as demands and customer expectancies change.
With the likes of Amazon offering same or next-day deliveries, utilities companies updating their customers about power or water shortages as they happen, or banks offering ‘my account’ payment portals, businesses have big decisions to make.
Over the years we’ve worked in multiple sectors on a number of projects and one thing that is at the core of them is user experience (UX). We’ve recently covered ‘support’ and ensuring that your business is able to trade efficiently online 24/7 and in a secure way. So how do you meet the ever-changing demands set by your customers and how can you do it without disrupting services?
We’ll look at some of the key problem areas businesses face when it comes to this question and highlight some of the main considerations you should be making.
Scale digital platforms in line with demand
One of the trickiest facets of developing a digital strategy, and something that we are most asked about, is the ability to scale as the business grows. Investing in your digital architecture is one thing, but as with all business needs, things change. Businesses who are actively looking to streamline their approach to scaling need to adopt the most flexible platform to do this on. Pain points in this area include:
- Higher operating costs than initially planned
- Customer demand for increased functionality cannot always be easily implemented on the existing platform
- New projects or platform migration can be time consuming
If these are things that you’ve experienced or have factored in as possible problem areas, then the solution here is to align the platform selection process with the desired audience and revenue growth in your wider business strategy. You also have to rely on your internal governance when it comes to decision making, especially around selecting a cost-effective solution that will deliver the best ROI.
Something to think about when it comes to scale is that there is often proof in the past in terms of brands that have invested in digital and now storefronts and people (in terms of numbers). According to the World Economic Forum, Airbnb has a market capitalisation of around $38bn with a workforce of 10,000 compared to Marriott Hotels who has a market capitalisation of $39bn with circa 177,000 employees. Similarly, Uber employs 16,000 people to generate $76bn against BWM who has 131,000 employees to generate $51bn. How is this possible? Well, it’s all in the platform, Uber doesn’t own cars and Airbnb doesn’t own real estate. By scaling their digital architecture and automating their processes the business grows with lower overheads.
How to reduce the cost to serve
Overheads are part of business and any company worth their salt would look to reduce the cost to serve. If you aren’t building tools to assist this then it’s likely that your customers would have to contact you via phone, social and other manned channels resulting in a high cost of serve.
Using the learnings in the above section, there has to be a clear journey towards conversion mapped out and customers should be able to use the content on your site to manually get the answers they want. We often talk about how customers can track a taxi in real time or find where their meal is through a food app, so why can’t they update their electricity meter, book, and track an engineer’s visit or buy tickets and make appointments in the same way.
There’s a sea change in the thinking around this and many are adopting this pain point as a digital focus. Investment in these areas can be expensive but the ROI is often better than forecasted.
In short - fully automated journeys and processes can delight in terms of UX and will undoubtedly affect your bottom line and profit margins.
Something that we see a lot of here at Mando is that businesses are increasingly thinking about digitally naïve or vulnerable customers. When it comes to the utilities sector, there are people of all ages with differing levels of digital know-how and access, and the services they obtain can be critical to life. Making sure that you can easily get a user signed up to the Priority Services Register (PSR) could have a huge impact in the event of a service outage.
Measuring ROI on Digital Investments
A digital strategy is the process of identifying how investment in digital technologies and approaches can maximise competitive advantage, growth, profit, and value for clients.
Aligning your strategy to make sure that you are able to reinvest is a priority. If there is a scalable approach in place to make sure that a positive return on digital investments can be put towards a cadence of new tooling and digital elements, the cycle becomes self-perpetuating.
As part of our service offering, we work in a way that highlights how to:
- Create a vision statement that sets out how digital will support the business ambition.
- Build a mechanism to connect business goals with performance insights, ensuring a tangible pathway to achieve and prove success.
- Design a framework to help identify and address the operational gaps, risks, and issues in delivering on the digital vision.
- Factor in a Now/Next/Future view of potential digital initiatives across common digital themes.
Launching digital products to market quickly
Do you remember the old adverts saying that ‘speed kills? Well, it’s true, just not the way you’re thinking about it. The impact of moving too slowly with innovation or your model can be devastating.
Businesses want to formulate a backlog of issues to resolve and plan future developments, but what about deployment? By utilising the power of Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) it is possible to roll out numerous iterations in real time and reduce loss of earnings or conversions.
Moving customers online and keeping them there
The majority of businesses can move their products or services online, and the transition to selling products or services offline to online can be simple. In nearly every case it is the most cost-effective way of spending the budget and offers long-term stability and security.
A typical cadence for moving customers online and understanding their needs could be written as follows:
Discover – at this stage you need to gain a deep understanding of your brand, vision, market, and audience needs, to clearly capture project requirements.
Design - designing an experience to deliver the project vision, including all supporting detail needed for the solution to be created and rolled-out successfully.
Deliver - transforming the design from concept to reality, ensuring the solution not only meets the agreed scope but also achieves wider business outcomes.
Support, maintain and optimise – this commences when a new service or product goes live. This is when you start to monitor the performance of the solution, whether it be infrastructure performance or benefits tracking against KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Using data effectively to hit KPIs
U.S Journalist, Harriet van Horne once quipped: ”One who roams the channels after dark is looking for buried treasure.” In terms of the data you have in your channels, that might just be the perfect reason to start looking. Data is big business, it takes time and money to capture, sort, store, market-to, re-market-to and in some cases cull. Ignore it at your peril.
The relationship between data and hitting your KPIs has never been closer. If you want to scale, as mentioned a little later, or if you want to branch into emerging or new markets then you need to know what works and what doesn’t.
Your KPIs aren’t going to be the same as your competitors, and whilst it’s essential to track revenue, lead generation, profit, deals etc., ask yourself what else do you need to consider? Businesses should analyse all of the data points they have and pick out the most important 10-15 as a starting point and as KPIs and business needs change, update and add to this list. Agile reporting is useful here and with many DXPs and CMS (Content Management System) systems it’s possible to create bespoke dashboards to do this.
Data collection and implementation shouldn’t just be a problem for the analysts to track and report on, it’s a whole business issue. From marketing and sales trying to generate leads and convert them to developers trying to offer a better UX, everyone needs visibility.
A recent piece by Data Box suggested that: “One of the most effective ways to manage the performance of KPIs is visibility. Whether it’s a shared file, a series of written KPIs in the office space, or something more tech-driven, like a KPI dashboard ensuring that your KPIs and the progress toward them are visible to everyone in the organisation, is a fantastic way to encourage a culture of transparency and accountability.”
While using historical data is a great way to get a general idea of the right KPIs to set for the current year, focusing on things that worked in the past won’t always result in success going forward. Evaluate what worked before and establish criteria to help you set goals for the current business climate and the projected future of your business.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but more importantly in business it’s foresight that you need. You need to make sure that no matter how well you’re trading, you’re always looking to the future. Ask yourself, “what’s next?” If a deli in the suburbs can produce new sandwich menus that are seasonal and which cater to the needs of their customers, why can’t some of the largest corporations in the world?
An analogy that I’ve particularly enjoyed over the years relates to golf. When playing golf, the aim is to play as little as possible, and that rings true with what users expect. They don’t want to spend time ordering tickets for events, or paying a bill, and they certainly don’t want it to have to make a call or use a desktop. Instead, they want to move towards mobile, find the answer to their solution quickly, navigate seamlessly to the correct part of the digital platform and resolve their issue easily.
Would you like a free ‘Digital MOT,’ to audit the current support and development you have in place?