With digital transformation now occurring at every level of business and in every industry, experts seem to be united in their opinion that it will usher in an era of closer customer relationships and stronger customer service.
In our previous blog post, one of the most interesting points highlighted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) was that of a large percentage of survey respondents viewing digital transformation as an opportunity to build closer relationships with their customers.
HBR in-turn saw that as good news for consumers and business customers, mentioning that it ‘foreshadows an era of customer-centred business.’
This sentiment is echoed in an article on CIO.com in an article titled ‘For Ingram Micro, digital transformation is about improving the customer experience’.
A Fundamental Reinvention of the Customer Experience
The article interviews Tom Peck, Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer of Ingram Micro. Anyone in the IT channel will know exactly who Ingram Micro is, being a major distributor of technology and supply chain solutions, whose footprint reaches IT channels all over the world.
Tom states that for Ingram Micro, digital is a fundamental reinvention of its customer experience, echoing the views held by respondents in HBR’s survey. The company wants to understand why customers are doing what they are doing, what are the motivations for their behaviour, what are their pain points and what are they looking for?
As we’ve pointed out on this blog previously, digital technologies dramatically simplify data collection and analysis for businesses. The nature of digital channel platforms for example, means that transactional data from all sources are aggregated within the platform, no matter the original source, and this transactional flow of data through the distribution platform quickly builds up a valuable source of information which marketers can then direct towards their marketing and sales initiatives.
By applying these insights correctly, companies can improve their customer conversion rates, personalise campaigns to increase revenue, predict and avoid customer churn, lower customer acquisition costs and increase overall marketing ROI.
Creating a Seamless Experience Using Digital Technologies
Tom mentions that “by understanding our customers’ behaviour, we can use digital technologies to create a seamless experience through sign-up, discover, quote, order and fulfilment. What we are ultimately after is a frictionless channel where our customers avoid delays, obstacles, or manual touchpoints that disrupt their experience.”
He goes on to describe an internal project using agile development with the goal being to “deliver a new and improved way for resellers to come to Ingram Micro’s website, via a reseller portal, to check order status, credit lines, and things of that nature. Their goal was to provide a self-service, on-demand reseller experience, so that our resellers can get the information they need when they need it.”
This is typical of the reinvention which digital can bring to an industry and the various operations processes utilised by businesses. IT channel companies will be aware of the various hassles and inefficiencies of running their quoting, invoicing and billing operations within the broader channel environment. By introducing a ‘frictionless channel’ as Tom calls it, digital technologies become an appealing prospect for businesses operating in a world which prioritises speed and convenience.
The New World of Digital Self-Fulfillment
Digital technologies enable self-service fulfilment too. In the modern world, customers expect to engage on sophisticated platforms which allow them to educate themselves, shop, purchase and service their purchases online. Given the choice between self-service fulfilment or having to operate through a slower traditional intermediary, is it any wonder that digital self-service technologies have become increasingly popular.
As we’ve mentioned before, one of the biggest obstacles to digital transformation remains changing the culture from within the organisation. Tom mentions that changing the company’s operating model, culture, and behaviours are the harder parts to change in a digital world, an oft-repeated refrain. Nevertheless, the reward seems to be worth the effort. After all, if it’s a top priority for one of the world’s biggest IT channel companies, perhaps it should be on your radar too.