Standout customer experiences don’t originate at the point of customer contact. They are created via intelligent through-the-line business processes. Sure, clever personalization, integrated digital and physical channels, and seamless transactions are visible to the customer. But it starts much deeper than that.
Great experiences—the ones that customers notice, share on social media, and, most importantly, willfully engage with over and over—usually start with a special idea that doesn’t lose its luster as it makes its way through supply chain, logistics, production, distribution, marketing, and, ultimately, the sales process. At each of these stages, digital capabilities can have a meaningful impact.
Supply chain optimization can have a dramatic impact on the customer experience. Just look at the success of Stitch Fix and Trunk Club. Applying buyer behavior to supply-chain decisions is a cornerstone of both companies’ ability to deliver the clothes people want. They use digital tools to gather customer-demand information and turn that data into on-trend fabrics, colors, prints, and patterns—all within the timeframe today’s retail customer expects. The cycle of ordering the raw materials, crafting clothes, and delivering a finished product can be risky and time-consuming. Those risks are only manageable with a responsive feedback mechanism.
Both production and distribution become stronger and more efficient once digital tools are in place. The true value of real-time marketplace data can be realized through the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Global brands like Nike, Samsung, Johnson & Johnson, GE, and Disney rely heavily on their digitally enabled predictive-demand modeling capabilities to inform production and distribution. Their production facilities, packaging and shipping logistics, and distribution channels—all over the planet—are powered by and linked by digital and cloud platforms that improve responsiveness, throughput, efficiency, and inventory management across distribution centers. All of this is in service to the same aspiration: customer experiences that delight. Without all the background systems working in harmony and enabled with digital technologies, platforms, and networks, none of these companies would be able to put the right product in front of the right customer at the right time. In short, successful customer experiences start back in the production facility half a planet away.
And, of course, let’s not forget the other functions that contribute to standout customer experiences:
Marketing: When marketers know their customers and understand what is working in real time, they can communicate more effectively and add value through personalized offers.
Sales: In a world where customers have access to so much information, sales teams need more resources and insight than ever before.
Operations: Precise timing and real-time data aggregated from different sources can create new efficiencies.
Customer Service: Customers get the answers they need more quickly when reps have universal access to customer accounts and preferences. Customers find value in straightforward onboarding and well-orchestrated information delivery. These aspects of the brand-customer relationship are most effective and efficient when they are enhanced with data-management platforms and automated communications.
When you put it all together, transforming business processes can significantly impact customer experiences and satisfaction over the long term. As you think about business transformation within your own organization, I encourage you to find those areas where digital capabilities can improve processes that ultimately affect customer experience. These opportunities for improvement present unmitigated upside for your business. As was the case following the introduction of fire, the wheel, the printing press, the combustion engine, the personal computer, and the internet, emerging digital technologies promise to make a powerful impact, one that can enhance every aspect of an enterprise.
If you’d like to discuss how your business can improve customer experiences via through-the-line digital capabilities, please email me directly.