As COVID hit in 2020, we expected to see huge investment in customer-facing digital projects.
We know from Forrester that customer service digital interactions were projected to increase by 40% so we were expecting to see big digital investment but tangible results have been few and far between.
Rather than focusing on digital improvements, many organisations were focused on internal digitisation and making remote working work for colleagues as the more pressing problem to solve.
So where should we focus our digital efforts in 2021?
Investment in Innovation & Collaboration Tools
We expect that internal investment in digital projects will continue. The impact of remote working on innovation and collaboration are top concerns for organisations. With uncertainty about when (or if) workplaces will return to pre-COVID ‘normal’, expect heavy investment in digital tools that drive innovation and collaboration. e.g. Teams Whiteboard function, Miro Board.
Many people will be looking for (and offering) quick fixes. However smart leaders will focus on getting the innovation process right, not just the results.
‘Focus on process, not just results. Yes, results are important. But as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day — and anyone can come up with a good idea or drive a successful implementation once.’ – Kerry Bodine, Kerry Bodine & Co.
Embrace Agile Teams
When the pandemic first redirected the masses to working at home, businesses needed to implement changes rapidly and successfully. This has become the new expectation. You can expect to see small, fast, agile projects to become the new norm.
In this year of continuing uncertainty, big, complex and time consuming projects are unlikely to get up. Focus on small, agile projects with a rapid return on investment.
“Agile management principles are no longer just for software vendors and startups. The shift has happened in days, not months. Businesses may be able to learn faster, acting in more agile ways, as a result.” – Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School.
Customer facing projects need to meet the same standards set in 2020: rapid, agile and with tangible benefits almost immediately.
Customer Journey Focussed Digitisation
Digitisation focused on customer journeys is a great way to prioritise and make quick decisions on where to start. By understanding customers’ current experience and level of expectation, organisations can pinpoint where digitisation will achieve the biggest bang for their buck.
Understand the interactions your customers have and any associated pain-points and uncover the golden opportunities.
Investment in Chatbots
Chatbots also offer a great opportunity for agile digital development. By focusing on specific use cases for chatbots, organisations can prove (or disprove) their benefit before investing further.
A chatbot can alleviate pressure from your call centre by helping customers to handle simple tasks or problems. They’re available 24/7, they can be used for lead generation and they create long term cost savings. With advancements in AI technology these chatbots can only improve over time and if having chatbots can save 30% in operational costs it definitely seems an investment worth making.
A Focus on Transparency
In an era of widespread misinformation customers are now placing great value on transparency and honesty from companies they interact with. There is opportunity to gain consumer trust and increase brand reputation by building authentic and meaningful relationships with your customers online.
Sprout Social has reports that nearly 9 out of 10 people are more likely to stick by a business during a brand crisis if they have a history of being transparent.
So, admit to mistakes, commit and fix them, be open about pricing, and policies and build that trust.
This trend is more than just personalisation for marketing purposes. Utilising your customer data to create a personalised communication of items or services that they are interested in will create a more meaningful relationship with your customer.
Forrester reports that 89% of digital businesses are investing in personalisation.
Imagine a world when you read an email “handpicked for you” and it really is. That would be a wonderful world.
To succeed in 2021, we recommend digital practitioners:
- focus on small, tangible projects, with a rapid return on investment or customer satisfaction impact.
- Stay aware of the wider trends, such as privacy, security and transparency.
- Now more than ever, be architects of your organisation’s digital roadmap. Chalk up the quick wins, but always have as clear vision for the future and plan to get there.
For more information or to bounce ideas around, get in touch with our resident Digital expert, Colin Smith.