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December 2014
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March 2015

Confusopoly - A main deterrent to customer centricity

I was reading this article by Doc Searls on How do you maximize the help that companies and customers give each other?  It's a lovely commentary of how companies make it difficult & complicated for customers to do business with them but surprisingly companies that use common/similar systems/backend actually do a brilliant job. So, what makes this difference in customer experience?

As I think back to many of my interactions with companies, it is so true.  Think for yourselves as you read my experience:

  • When I wanted to redeem my frequent flier points, I was told there are black-out dates and I cannot redeem them! My airline - Jet Airways - made it so difficult that I decided to move away from them silently. The relationship & effort was just not worth it.
  • I received a pack from Citibank and they had a coupon which said "Fly with your companion Free!" I called the call centre and I was told this was available only for full fare seats! That's crazy I thought. When I have an option to fly at competitve rates, why would I fly full fare!
  • My bank decided to upgrade and downgrade me basis my bank balance, usage - they wanted to maintain the relationship on their terms not on my terms. I just did not see value.
  • It's frustrating my mobile service provider - Vodafone sends me 6 different packs of bills and reminders for me to pay in a month with different dates, as if it is 5 different relationships while all my subscriptions are within me & my family! Not once was I called by the relationship manager to consolidate, customize them & help. I call their call centre often enough. I am their customer now for over a decade!

The real question that companies should ask themselves hard is, do they really talk to customers or do they end-up managing a process? 

If they really talk to each other then customer intelligence needs to get understood, captured and there must be incremental improvements made every time to the relationship & the product or service - that's simple, convenient & authentic.

For sure, the customers will sense it.


For successful digital transformation, should we practice digital transmigration?

I was seeing this interesting video from MITSMR on Building capabilities for Digital Transformation.

What stuck me was to effect a successful digital transformation of business, should they practice digital transmigration - which is taking customers from one stage to another - which is building a path of planned digital transmigration. 

My belief in this comes from the fact that big transformation does not happen overnight - especially when businesses really want a mass movement of customers shifting their behaviour - the way businesses want them to. But, when we take  customers stage-by-stage, my instinct tells me transformation is rapid and happens quickly too.  Else, it becomes too much of a rapid disruption for customers which either leads to poor adoption and lesser regular/repeat usage behaviour, ultimately leading to failure of such initiatives. What we may find interesting is that when a first set of ' large' early adopters see the benefit, they act as catalysts to get the rest to move in that direction by sheer word-of-mouth & conversations. The transformation is phenomenal and impactful.

For example, imagine if a retailer starts to send digital invoice to every customer who purchases offline at the store. Let them know the product benefits and provide a digital purchase box( storage) which stores all digital invoices for them because it really helps customers to access and print them in case they want a replacement, claim warranty or refund in case there are product issues. Most often, customers misplace invoices, find out quality of ink is pathetic in physical invoices as the print turns invisible or just realize it becomes too difficult to do these things physically.

As customers become comfortable and appreciate the benefits of this, just building a digital product warranty registration proactively as a convenience, may help them adopt the digital channels faster due to sheer convenience and ease of use. Then, moving them into digital product feedback, usage tips, digital reminders, digital chats for customer help/service support etc. may take them to higher levels of engagement with the digital world. Then, ultimately moving them to online purchase, support etc. over time. 

What this also does is that businesses are able to differentiate customers by " physical/emotional state of digital adoption" in their path to digital adoption and usage.

Therefore, in my view, if businesses want to effect digital transformation rapidly, they need to build multiple paths of digital transmigration in their execution strategy, keeping in mind how their customers will adopt them easily & quickly.

To me, it looks like a digital transmigration plan seems to be a very critical aspect in the digital transformation journey.