Anstice Blog

Three Ways That Digital is Transforming Business

Posted on September 05, 2018 by anstice communications

We live in an amazing time full of new business models and tools to grow our businesses.  Over the past 15 years, we’ve witnessed the digital transformation of society, which has led to an unprecedented array of technological marvels, including smartphones, Facebook, YouTube, self-driving cars, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, privatized space travel, GPS, hyperloop, drone delivery, bionic body parts and genetic engineering. What once seemed like futuristic fiction is now a reality of our everyday lives. 

The digital architecture that enables these technological inventions has changed businesses in three significant—and potentially highly beneficial—ways.  

1.Customer Engagement 

Historically, businesses had a small tool set to connect with and learn about customers: mass media, face-to-face and broad research. 

These techniques were effective for a long time. But, as consumers migrated to digital mediums as their preferred method of consumption, product research, personal communication and shopping, traditional methods have lost significant power.  

First, mass media was the way to reach our customers and deliver a message through an anonymous, one-directional message-delivery system. Today, the majority of our customers are learning and being entertained on a mobile device connected to the Internet. As a result, digital and social media have, in terms of time spent, overtaken all forms of traditional media.

Second, while our customers used to learn about products and services through face-to-face interactions with staff at the point of business, today they use digital tools connected to the Internet to research purchases before buying nearly anything, which changes their relationship with our staff.  

Third, we learned about our customers’ needs, wants and motivations by employing researchers to conduct polls, surveys and focus groups. Today, we learn about our customers through digital interactions that provide an abundance of data that can be interpreted in ways that traditional research never could. 

This doesn’t mean that analog tools don’t work, or that you should stop using them to engage with your customers. What it does mean\ is that businesses have access to a new tool set that can transform the way they engage with customers. This provides a true competitive advantage.   

How to start: 

You can start by assigning a growth project to a deserving team member, whereby they report on the options, impact and feasibility to implement digital-engagement tools such as beacons, traffic counters, chatbots, speech-to-text and others. Once you’ve identified the most promising tools for your business, you’ll want to decide the best way to use them and determine how they can be integrated to learn about your customer needs and create the best experiences for them.  

2. Marketing Channels

Marketing has always been about promoting a product or business with the intention of reaching the right customer, with the right message, at the right time and in the right context.

In the world of mass media channels—TV, radio, newspapers and billboards—this type of execution is technically impossible since the media and creative executions aren’t linked to individual customer identities, but rather to large anonymous groups of people suspected of consuming content.  

While mass media is successful at targeting large groups, it can’t customize messages to reach highly targeted sub-groups at each stage of the decision journey. But digital can, which really changed the game. 

We now have the ability and tools to use digital data on Google and Facebook to identify customers based on the keywords they search with, the videos they watch and the articles they read, like and share.  We can use this information to gain insights about their interests and to reach them, at scale, with creative and copy customized to their individual interests. 

How to start: 

If you’re in a small organization, find someone on your team with a curiosity and thirst to learn. In larger organizations, you’ll want to speak with the analytics and data-science team. Ask this team to identify all the data sources of customer information, including purchases, traffic, media, customer feedback and the like. Then begin asking howmight we combine these data sets to learn more about our customers and eventually model purchase patterns to predict the likelihood of when customers will repurchase. From there, you can design customized digital experiences that minimize churn and accelerate prospects through their journey to repurchase.     

3. Company Culture

When it comes to the three areas of business evolution that digital transformation drives, perhaps the largest impact it can have is on company culture. 

Today,  hierarchies and silosare often considered two of the biggest obstacles for growth facing companies of all sizes. Communication systems are disconnected from each other—often controlled by power brokers who seek to control their fiefdom by hoarding and withholding information. This leads to HIPPO (Highest Paid Persons Opinion)-based decision-making, disengaged employees and ultimately poor customer experiences.  

Digital transformation can change all of this and, in my mind, represents the biggest opportunity to reshape business. 

Being able to connect the digital dots between customer data sets from different departments into one unified profile optimizes communication, enables informed and data-driven decision-making and engages the collective intelligence of your employees. This ultimately improves productivity and creates better customer experiences. 

I’ll use a car dealership to illustrate my point. Think of yourself as a customer of a car dealership. You’re a couple of hundred kilometres away from needing your next oil change, but it may not be on your radar. Wouldn’t it be nice if you got a reminder text that allowed you to book your oil change from your phone? Digital has made this possible, the IT and service departments just need to digitally connect customer information with their booking system. 

Or, what about a personal follow-up from your salesperson after you gave the dealer a review of their service? This is totally do-able from a technology perspective—it simply requires the customer service or insights team to find and share customer information with the sales department.   

What if you were sent personalized ads three months before your lease expires? This requires the sales, web, service department and marketing teams to create and share customer profiles that can be activated automatically.  

When the dealership can share your purchase and service information fluidly between departments, they’re able to create better experiences for you because they know you. 

How to start: 

Gather a small team of people from different departments and challenge them to: “Define 3 ways we might use digital data to improve our customers’ experience.”  Ask them to take inventory of all customer data sets and map each to the consumer decision journey. The sources may include point-of-sale (credit card info, email, purchase history and frequency), customer-service information (phone calls, emails, social media accounts), website customer data and appointment bookings.  

 Adopting a digital mindset can be seen as a threat oran opportunity.  Whichever you think it is, you’re right. If you view it as an opportunity, you’ll quickly gain the competitive advantages that come along with embracing  digital transformation in customer engagement, marketing and your culture.    

Marc Binkley is Director, Digital & Strategy at Anstice Communications,Canada’s leading boutique agency specializing in meaningful disruption strategies and FX. 

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