Digital Transformation Starts With Your Customers

Digital Transformation Starts With Your Customers

By Tuesday December 6th, 2016

Digital transformation is a popular term these days. Immediately we jump to new technologies that make our lives easier, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Digital transformation should improve the customer experience first and foremost.

A misconception with many business owners is that a digital transformation strategy requires making drastic changes at the core of a business. Things like mission, values and business model are immediately put on the chopping block. However, as a brand and marketing consultant, I contend that it can be far simpler than that and businesses often make it more complicated than it needs to be. Companies with the desire to undergo a digital transformation should focus on two major things to start the process:

  1. Unmet needs and desires of current customers
  2. North Star goal

Once a company is clear and aligned on #1 and #2, they can begin to develop a digital transformation strategy, which often sets the stage for development/implementation of new technologies and new digital marketing strategies.

What is a north star goal?

A North Star goal is a single long term vision or future state that drives a company forward and guides their actions and decisions. It’s customary to see it embodied in a company vision statement. Beyond the north star goal, companies should also assign a north star metric to measure their success. Defining this goal and an accompanying metric is crucial to starting any digital transformation process. As Hila Qu describes in her article on creating a growth model, a north star metric would be “# of nights booked” for AirBNB and “Total Time Reading” for Medium. The North Star should be a true indicator of the health and success of your business.

Let the customer be your guide.

If not serving the needs and desires of customer, digital transformation is just for show. It becomes a superficial process that only goes to make c-level executives feel like they are doing something to innovate. Sounds like a costly, failed exercise.

Digital transformation is pointless if you aren’t transforming to meet the needs of customers

Customers should be the focal point of any transformation and it’s crucial to connect with them as early and often as possible. The goal is to uncover their pain points, unmet needs and opportunities to make their lives better. Many customers won’t know how to express their problems let alone describe the improvements they want to see, which is where a consultant comes in. A good consultant will ask the right questions, using a proven framework to analyze the customer and guide the transformation.

When I think about digital transformation, I picture a pyramid. Each layer from the bottom up must serve as the foundation for what comes next. Think of the game Jenga, or the house of cards theory, where pulling from the bottom removes all purpose and stability for anything above it.

Digital Transformation

When most companies hear digital transformation, they think about the top of the pyramid. They immediately jump to, “what exciting technology or product can I build that will disrupt my industry?” or “what digital strategies can I implement to see massive hockey stick growth?” Without realizing it, they are skipping the first few important steps of the transformation process and are building without a solid foundation in place.

Where to start?

Here are some important questions to help jumpstart the digital transformation process. We use these questions (and many more) during the consulting phase with our clients to get productive conversation started.

What is the most annoying/frustrating part about (insert the problem your business is solving)?

What is it that really makes you love (or use) our product/service? What do you hate about it? What would make you choose something else over our product/service?

How do you feel about our communication with you? How can we improve?

Can you think of any processes that could be refined?

Explain to me (insert your product line or offering here), and why it’s helpful/valuable to you.

Have you felt burdened or annoyed by any task we’ve asked you to complete in the past?

How do you feel about the tools and platforms we use to collaborate and communicate?

Can you explain our value to you? What do we do better than anything else? What is our weakest feature?

Good luck finding your north star and remember that customers are your most precious source of research. Utilize them and don’t forget to show your appreciation!

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About the Author

Jason is co-founder and CEO of Brolik, a digital agency in Philadelphia. As an entrepreneur, Jason is passionate about helping other business owners navigate the complicated journey of owning a business and developing marketing strategies to grow their brand.
Follow @jaybrew on Twitter or connect with Jason on LinkedIn or Google+