Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 | 4 min read
I’m plugging in my phone cord. For the next hour, I pray no one tries to place a call. Cue the chorus of my modem trying its darndest to find a connection. Centuries later (it seems), a familiar voice comes on and tells me I’ve got mail.
I remember the early days in the Age of Connectivity, and I’m sure you do too. We’ve come a long way since then. People are more connected than ever before. In fact, 84% of Americans regularly use the Internet—no dial-up involved—and 65% are connected to social networks.
The Age of Connectivity brought in a host of new channels available to consumers—infinite, free, constantly evolving opportunities to communicate with one another. But while consumers have thrived in the Age of Connectivity, the corporate world is struggling. It’s still trying to establish a connection.
In an effort to keep up with growing demands, companies started haphazardly establishing a presence on new communication channels. More than 80% of the Fortune 500 have active Twitter accounts, and 80% are on Facebook. Even newer networks are getting attention from established brands—Foursquare enjoyed a 42% increase in 2014, Pinterest expanded by 27%, and Instagram is up 12%.
On the surface, this all looks great. Unfortunately, the rest of the iceberg is a total mess. There’s no infrastructure to support these activities. And the results show…
According to a recent Econsultancy report, while most companies agree their “priority is for all key marketing activities to be integrated across channels,” only 39% actually “understand customer journeys and adapt the channel mix accordingly.” Even more disappointing: only 5% of respondents say their organizations are “very much” capable of delivering effective cross-channel activities.
Companies are delivering inconsistent experiences for customers. The sales, marketing, and customer service teams have different or fragmented views of the same customer. And how they treat those individuals on Twitter is not the same as how they engage with them in person, via email, or over the phone. Simply put, the brand feels different—it is different—depending on the channel.
In a world where 89% of companies now compete mostly on the basis of customer experience (versus 36% four years ago), that’s a big problem.
To stay relevant, brands must adopt a new way of thinking. They must push themselves to transform. Here are five ways to start:
If you make strategic decisions with only immediate benefits in mind, you’ll constantly have to readjust and deploy new tactics. Instead, start with where you want to be as a corporation five years from now, then work backward. That’s how you’ll know what needs to be done today, tomorrow, and a year from now.
If your vision is to deliver an omni-channel customer experience, you need a communication platform that will enable cross-functional collaboration. This platform needs to be robust enough to support a global organization with thousands of employees, but also flexible enough to adapt at the speed of social.
Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long, winding, arduous road; if you start pushing for enterprise-wide transformation, you must stay the course. Which brings me to my next point…
Every movement needs a leader, corporate or otherwise. In the quest toward digital transformation, an organization needs a change agent to champion the cause and shepherd others forward. This person will be the catalyst for transformation and the one to keep the flame burning.
Transformation can’t be a top-down directive or a grassroots effort; it must be a company-wide shift. This is why transparency is key. You must communicate your efforts across the enterprise, from top to bottom.
Digital transformation won’t happen overnight, but it probably won’t be as hard as you might think either. If you’re still standing still, it’s time to take the first step. If you’ve already taken a few steps, it’s time to take a few more.