Today, every business is powered by data. When consumers worldwide — and, more specifically, your customers — demand data-driven results, it’s easy to assume your entire focus should be on the technology that can deliver them.
An unwavering focus on technology, however, is a recipe for losing customers. After all, they’re the ones driving the digital transformation of businesses, not technology. Regardless of what industry you’re in, your customers are living in a digital world. They’re always connected, always talking, and always engaged.
Your customers don’t see themselves as having strong relationships with particular technologies. Rather, technology strengthens their relationships with one another. Similarly, your technology should allow you to build stronger relationships with customers, team members, and business partners. If it’s not, it’s just getting in the way.
The tendency to prioritize technology can make you lose sight of what matters most: relationships.
A Means to an End
If you’re one of the many companies committed to implementing a digital-first strategy to start the next decade, ensure that that strategy centers on how you deliver your product or service, not merely the tech you use to do so. Fixating on particular platforms or software misses the point.
Instead, focus on the goals you want to achieve, and zone in on the technologies that can best help you achieve them. No tool, no matter how sophisticated, is a panacea. However, most businesses can benefit from a digital strategy anchored by these three principles:
Customers want to know that your company is prepared to do business in a digital world, and thanks to technology, modern business leaders have unprecedented access to insights about their customers and their own organizations. Yet in an age when high-profile data breaches make headlines almost daily, it’s easy to see why consumers are wary of entrusting companies with their personal information. To beat the odds, remember that earning customer trust isn’t about the data you’re asking for, but rather customer confidence in how that data is managed.
In fact, Salesforce found that 92 percent of customers are more likely to trust businesses with data if they’re given control over what information is collected, and 91 percent of customers will trust a company more if the business is transparent about how customer information will be used. To gain consumer confidence, you must be willing to state how that data will be securely stored and how you plan to use it to improve. You can do this by creating content that takes customers behind the scenes. If you’re open and honest with your customers, they’ll be more willing to stick with you when technology fails you.
Consumers want personalized experiences, and technology can help you deliver them. But you’ll need more than just the technology. Delivering personalization across the countless touchpoints that exist in the modern consumer journey requires loads of data. Consumers are real people who grow and change — meaning your approach to providing personalization needs to continuously grow and change. Your company alone can collect and analyze data, but let’s face it: Two heads are better than one.
By establishing a broad network of partnerships with companies that have data and insights complementary to yours, you’ll have a more complete picture of what consumers want. That’s why TCL, a home electronics manufacturer, partnered with Roku, the popular video streaming device, to create a smart TV that uses Roku’s user experience capabilities to personalize the user interface, curating relevant content and even allowing customers to edit their home screens. Sure, the technology and data themselves are important, but business partnerships are crucial if you want to realize the personalization benefits they can offer.
3. Human Interaction
Technology has created a sort of digital arms race that often blinds companies to what customers and business partners really want. Rick DeRose, managing partner and co-founder of Acertitude, an executive search firm, has seen this play out many times. “With so many companies embracing automation, you’d be forgiven for thinking that human interaction is no longer a priority,” he says. But “automation liberates humans to do what we do best: meet people, cultivate relationships, and make smart decisions that create value.”
Technology should be used to foster open communication among team members and between you and your business partners. Seventy percent of customers still prefer human interaction over communicating with bots, and your colleagues and partners are no different. Customers want and expect digital engagement across a wide variety of channels, but they want these channels to supplement or lead to more impactful human interactions, not replace them entirely.
Digital transformation is about people, not robots. Keep these principles in mind as you plan your own digital strategy, and the important human relationships that power your business will become even stronger.