Digital Disruption And The Customer Experience

The following is a guest blog written by Amit Shankardass, EVP Marketing at Teleperformance. Learn more about Teleperformance by visiting their website.

Digital disruption is on many corporate agendas right now, but what is it? Put simply, it’s when an idea or technological process changes the way that things are done. If the change is radical enough it can affect companies and even entire industries. Think of how Kodak once led the market for photographic film, yet didn’t see how digital photographs would change their industry.

Digital disruption divides opinion in the boardroom. Some leaders see the opportunity and some see only threats. The very concept of your entire business model being challenged by disruptive market entrants can lead to decision paralysis because no strategies or options appear to be right.

However, if you plan well and create a vision to manage digital disruption it can be exciting and empowering in the way it can reshape your business. Digital disruption often creates opportunities for companies to engage in a deeper and more meaningful way with their customers.

It’s important to appreciate that in the 21st century business environment it is often your customer that dictates the rate of change – consumer technologies have created enterprise disruption. The growth of multichannel communication between customers and brands is a great example that shows just how quickly customer expectations changed. Any customer who asks a brand a question using Twitter or Facebook today will feel ignored if they don’t get a prompt answer, but a few years ago most brands were still ignoring social networks and expecting customers to call a dedicated customer support phone number.

This is an important dynamic that all executives should appreciate – you can no longer plan your customer engagement strategy entirely in the boardroom. You just need to be flexible enough to adapt to what your customers want. I believe there are a few key areas that all executives need to be thinking of if they want to stay on top of digital disruption:

– Observe and react to your customer preferences. They have existing preferences for digital engagement and communication, but some will be exploring new channels, and any one of these channels could soon become important – just as some of the existing favorites may eventually be irrelevant.

– Plan ahead and consider which parts of your business can be digitally disrupted. Is it just the interaction with customers or is it your entire business? The hotel industry never imagined their main challenger in 2016 would be Airbnb and banks today are competing with apps. Which part of your business could change fundamentally?

– Consider how people are using digital tools today and how this affects your business, for example, are you ignoring opportunities that already exist just because you have not developed your offer? The L’Oreal Makeup Genius app didn’t exist two years ago, yet it’s now responsible for millions of purchases because it lets customers try products virtually, but they can easily buy the real thing direct from the app.

– Never stop exploring the immediate future. Many company leaders don’t know where technologies like Virtual Reality will go at present, yet it is a technology that is real, is available in stores, it is not science fiction. Make sure that you are the company exploring existing disruptors, not your competition.

– Learn from the success and mistakes of others. There is an enormous amount of experience out there. Nobody can predict a future disruption, but you can learn to spot the indicators and be ready for change.

Managers responsible for the customer experience know all of this because customers drive most disruption today. Some companies are truly innovative and far ahead of what customers think they need, but most are changing because their customers want change.

Digital disruption can be scary, but if you are ready for it the business opportunities are immense. Digital disruption is taking place, you can’t avoid it. Those who try to keep on delivering what worked last year will soon find they have no customers left.

I’m talking about this topic on a panel at the Customer Response Summit, on February 24th, in Phoenix, AZ. Please get in touch via my LinkedIn or if you are attending the summit, say hello and ask me about this blog in person!