Customer Journeys 

Digital transformation is a buzzword that’s been floating around industry magazines and in webinars nonstop for the last 24 months.  “You need to go digital!!” is the cry from the consultants.  “You’ll be disrupted!!” is their warning if you fail to heed their advice.  What we hear little about is the why and what for.  There are so many decisions to make when it comes to going digital, so how to even begin? 

Let’s stop there and discuss what K-Rise sees as digital transformation.  Digital transformation in its purest form is using software to make it easier than ever for your customers and suppliers to do business with you.  Giving your internal users, external users, customers, suppliers, contractors, and everyone else in your ecosystem the information they need, when they need it, on the device of their choosing.  This seems like a panacea, and it is. The move to digital can be accomplished, but it’s more than just writing some new applications.  It requires support from everyone in senior management on down to make this happen.  It’s well more than just an IT issue.  There is a great way to start looking at transforming your business which doesn’t require new tooling or months and months of commitment, but it does require functional units to participate.  It’s called customer journey mapping. 

Customer Journeys 

What is customer journey mapping?  Its an exercise in getting a deep and meaningful understanding of what your customer (be that internal or external) needs to accomplish for a business process to complete.  How many steps are in the process?  What departments and IT systems are required to accomplish this process?  It is critically important to give your company a ‘current state’ understanding of what needs to happen to accomplish any process.  Smart companies have 50-100 different journey maps created, many have more.  There are many free mapping templates online to choose from, this website gives you a list of ten at the bottom.  https://www.ngdata.com/how-to-create-a-customer-journey-map/ 

Once you have a few maps complete, you’ll start to get an understanding of what it takes for someone to do business with you.  If you want to start small, don’t begin with a customer-facing application.  Digital can (and should) happen on the inside of your four walls also.  What we’ve encountered when going through these exercises is how eye-opening they can be, especially at companies with low turnover.  People who’ve been doing a certain job for years have no real idea how they do it anymore, and since they no longer ask for help, everyone assumes what they are doing is the most efficient way to do their job function.  Add to the pile these employees rarely complain, most assume the IT systems they’re using are top-notch.  The journey map provides a real view into a process and I guarantee at least one department will surprise you.   

Customer Satisfaction versus Customer Experience 

Customer Satisfaction is a highly sought after yet flawed metric.  I’ll give you a cogent example, the company I used to work for.  The customers were satisfied.  We ran many different surveys and found customer satisfaction was well over 95% every year.  They were satisfied because customer service was prompt in getting license keys to customers.  They were satisfied that the support team could answer tickets in a timely manner.  They were satisfied their maintenance bills were mailed on time.  Some were even satisfied their sales reps called them to keep them up to date.  Most of the customers who filled out the survey had been using those products for over 10 years, some over 20….so they were used to this service and found it satisfying. 

Newer customers, on the other hand, found the ‘exemplary customer service’ quite disagreeable.  They didn’t understand why they needed someone to generate a code, or why a product which had been around for 20+ years still had so many defects expert support was required, or why bills were still sent via the post. Why it took three to 4 phone calls to find someone who knew exactly what they owned.  Why can’t they do all these things on their own when they need to? 

Why didn’t we have a portal to pay bills, generate temp keys when necessary, request new software without talking to a sales rep, and solve problems without support? 

The service was great IF YOU LIKE SPEAKING TO 5-7 DIFFERENT PEOPLE, the experience was terrible if you didn’t.  We mapped out a journey of a customer.  We found the experience from lead to prospect to customer involved 7 different departments running 5 separate systems, all with proprietary data relevant to the customer.  The ‘future state’ was set.  That said, to bring it all together and make our experience world-class WITHOUT ALL THE SOR’s suffering…well, we knew what kind of hill we had to climb. 

Eating the elephant 

We’ve looked at the people and the process, and now its time to start making the move to digital.  Once you have the journeys and the future you’re going to want to get there as soon as you can. Writing future state applications shouldn’t be the impediment to moving to digital, yet for many companies it is. Retooling your IT department with low code and cloud infrastructure so they can move as fast as you want is the next step in building these applications.  To bind together disparate systems on disparate platforms to match customer journeys is no small feat.  You’ll want to investigate what low code can bring to your Application Development team and how using the cloud to create this customer experience platform can supercharge the delivery.  Low code can also extend your IT department to allow business analysts and non-developers to participate in the delivery of new software.  Using a model-driven approach, low code applications are constructed with building blocks instead of raw lines of code.  This allows for applications to be deployed in days and weeks instead of months and years.  Most low code tools have prebuilt connectors to the major ERP vendors and will have a web-services architecture to connect with custom systems as well.  Start small yet keep the end in mind.  One bite at a time you’ll get there.  With the right tooling, you’ll get there even faster. 

Summary 

The road to digital is bumpy, and the whole company needs to play a role.  It will change you both internally and externally, all signs promote to the better.  It all starts with the map.  The map shows the journey.  The map provides clarity, and the map shows you how many places a customer touches which you might not know today.  Technology plays a role as well, getting you there.  Low code and the cloud will make a huge difference in the speed with which you can deliver.  Find the right maps, find the right tools, ask for help.  We all want you to succeed.