Digital Transformation Is Constantly Evolving
Leaders and employees need to understand that digital transformation never ends. You must view it as a perpetual mission to keep your business competitive. You can’t just do one major system or platform upgrade and view it as being prepared for the digital era. That first major change is just a step in the right direction and should lay a framework for what you call “agile improvement.” What this means is that you’ve modernized your systems enough that you can make changes very quickly as you discover improvements that are necessary to lead your industry and you can do it without burdening your clients.
Upgrade Outdated Technology
Digital Transformation, especially for a company that has outdated technology, will initially be disruptive to the employees and the customers. Your goal needs to be that no matter how chaotic things can get internally, you will minimize the impact on your clients. To the extent this is not achievable, which is common, then you need to transparently communicate to your clients what you are doing, why you are doing it, and why they will benefit from the investment. You’ll find that customers will be patient or more forgiving for issues the transformation causes them if they know that the end state will make their experience with your organization better than ever.
“Build for your customer, not the company.”
This is a quote from my former CEO at Compass, Robert Reffkin. He wouldn’t approve a single investment in the technology at Compass unless you showed how it would improve the lives of our customers. A lot of companies make the mistake of basing their transformational agenda on how it impacts their employees: i.e., does it make their jobs easier, does it make them more efficient, does it increase morale? Those objectives are important and need to be factored in, however, if none of your initiatives improve your customers’ experience, then you did nothing to move your organization forward. Therefore, you must measure the success of your digital transformation journey based on the impact it has on your customers.
A Little Chaos Is Normal Its Apart of the Process
It’s okay to break some things along the way, as long as you break them in an attempt to move the company forward. To successfully navigate through the digital era, you need your entire company to have a culture that embraces digital innovation. There are several ways to do this, but the first and most important is that you must make sure your employees are encouraged and not afraid to change the status quo. With this will come some challenges, and even business processes being temporarily broken. Employees need to know that this is okay, as long as it was initiated by a desire to improve the customer’s experience and they see the enhancement all the way through. You can’t have team members that are afraid to embrace change due to worries about being reprimanded, or in the worst case, fired.
It Starts From the Bottom Up
Take a bottom-up and not a top-down approach. You can’t have a team of senior executives, who don’t spend time with your frontline employees, make the decisions for digital overhauls, unless they are intimately aware of what it’s like for your customers to interact with your team. The best way to learn this is to spend time with your customers, and we’ve established that. However, it’s also important that you spend time with the frontline employees who interact with your clients daily. This could mean a CEO trailing a customer care agent for a week, or a CFO going out to customer sites with a project manager, or a CIO going out on sales calls. You will find that most of your opportunities for improvement are best realized on the front lines. A leader who is disconnected from their customer-facing employees results in being disconnected from their customers, and that is a recipe for failure.
Written by Sourcepass CEO Chuck Canton