Digital-first strategies can improve operational efficiency – here's how

It’s no secret that embracing digital is essential for businesses that want to stay relevant and competitive. That’s why, by 2021, 89% of all companies had already adopted a digital-first business strategy or planned to do so.

Despite many enterprises acknowledging the importance of digital in driving revenue and sales, many are still struggling to make their digital strategies achieve the most effective and advantageous business impact.

A key part of the problem is that many organisations are not equipped to identify and respond to every digital issue causing customer friction. While it may seem sensible to prioritise larger, visible problems. When added together, small customer touchpoints can have a significant effect on the customer experience (CX).

In fact, according to Quantum Metric, the average consumer organisation leaves over €180 million on the table per year due to inefficiencies, with digital teams taking up to four weeks to resolve digital issues or optimise experiences. These challenges have an immediate impact on digital return on investment (ROI) and the focus of ongoing initiatives. To ensure businesses are getting the most out of their digital-first strategies and achieving operational efficiency, they must first understand how to correctly put it into action.

Identifying the obstacles

It’s far easier for organisations to recognise that something in their digital strategy is preventing users from having an optimised experience than it is to pinpoint exactly where the issues lie. Something highly visible but relatively minor may take up employees' valuable capacity, while a deeper, less visible issue causes significant revenue losses due to abandonment and frustrated customers opting to seek a better service elsewhere.

Implementing ways to identify all issues easily and prioritise them based on the friction points that mean the most to your customers, means businesses can focus on the issues that affect their bottom line first.

In part, the difficulty to spot issues is also down to the vast amount of data available to businesses today while still leaving gaps in many nuanced micro-experiences.

As of January 2023, there are over 66 million internet users in the UK and over 80% of the population makes eCommerce purchases. The result of this for digital users? A very large data volume with a broad range of distinct experiences and unique expectations.

This general dataset can be useful to gain a better understanding of overall consumer behaviour, however, it can also create complexity when trying to accurately align and quantify digital priorities.

In addition to a higher volume of digital users and data, people are also engaging across multiple digital channels which can make it even more difficult to spot critical warnings.

Digital teams may be aware of critical areas within their respective experience, but often don’t have the visibility across the entire customer journey spanning all digital channels.  A comprehensive end-to-end control of the customer experience is needed to demonstrate to company executives the true impact that these friction points have on outcomes and the organisation’s bottom line.

As a result, business decisions are often made without having the full picture – subsequently leading to a lack of agility and misguided priorities, meaning customer needs aren’t met.

To avoid this, companies should look to utilise new technology that can enable them to see past the surface-level friction points and pinpoint other elements that are of equal, if not more, importance to the customer.

Improving digital expertise

Another huge part of a successful digital strategy is ensuring employees are equipped with the right skills necessary to improve the experience for customers. Access to a rich customer data set is useless if employees don’t have the knowledge required to correctly analyse the insights produced and take actionable next steps. That said, filling the gaps in digital expertise is a huge task for any organisation.

Often, there is only a handful of people – or in some cases just one individual – possessing the knowledge needed to respond to customer needs by identifying and making the improvements to the digital inefficiencies identified.

The issue with this approach is that when these employees are unavailable, the lack of understanding amongst the rest of the team is soon exposed. Operational efficiencies can grind to a halt and digital needs go unanswered or resolved.

Companies looking to become digital-first need to ensure that all members of staff have the ability to effectively respond to customer frustrations and digital inefficiencies. Retraining entire teams, however, can be costly and time consuming. New technologies can instead help every team member access, interpret, and understand the customer data available to them.

By 2026, global digital transformation spending is forecast to reach $3.4 trillion, suggesting that businesses will be looking to invest more in their digital strategies.

By focusing this investment on acquiring the right digital tools to support and complement their teams’ capabilities, businesses will be able to eliminate inefficiencies and create an outstanding customer experience. This will ensure they keep up with evolving customer expectations, know what to prioritise and gain a competitive, profitable advantage.