Digital Customer Experience: a beacon in the night

Our point of view

10mn   Beginner Level

You’ve probably heard of digital transformation. Whatever the name, you’ve already come across the concepts of social selling, digital customer experience, marketing automation, inbound marketing and so on. Unless you’re a total idiot (a luxury you can’t afford), you know that you have to devote time and resources to it (nuggets!). The question is no longer when to go, but how and with how much money. Here are some answers…

The Merlin/Leonard Way
At Merlin/Leonard, we are fortunate to have been involved for many years with large groups as well as start-ups and SMEs. By taking the best of both worlds, we have finally found a path that we propose to explore together, which starts from your digital maturity to go towards the digital customer experience and thus succeed in your digital transition.

Everyone is doing digital transformation (even my grandmother)

“You don’t make any effort”, “you are deaf”, “you stick your head in the sand”, “you are unconscious”, “slow”… This is what I read (and hear) on a daily basis, about the bosses and managers of small and medium-sized companies in France. At the same time, these are the same people who are chasing you and who make you stay between you, well hidden, so as not to be canvassed (taken…) all day long.

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But who are these digital transformation henchmen?

They are independent consultants or in small firms. They work in agencies. They are experts and sharp in one area, but because they are bad salesmen, as soon as they get a client, they hang on. They’re smart enough to sense that you have a lot of unmet needs, but not honest enough with themselves (and their banker) to say, “No, I’m not good at that. I understand the issues but it’s not my area of expertise.” In a society where education trains you to compete and not collaborate, they don’t know how to work as a team and always end up trying to get the biggest piece of the pie for themselves (rather than growing it).

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What about you?

You trust (and we don’t blame you) and you’ll end up with lots of unfinished projects, bits of loose starts in the corner. Everyone is in good faith in the story, but it still doesn’t end well.

You need an overall plan to drive your digital transformation. You need a VISION!

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Take a step aside

Having been on both sides of the fence, I’m not casting stones at anyone. However, you have to move on. You want to redo your house from floor to ceiling? Fire your friends, stop saving money and hire an architect and a project manager.

Here are three points we invite you to consider for a moment.

#1 : Digital transformation and customer experience is a question of corporate culture

Your company culture IS your strategy. What if your company culture was customer-oriented – or at least totally customer-oriented? What if your customers were also your employees?

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Imagination at the helm

Imagine that you decide that, within 3 years, your company will be exclusively dedicated to customers and that your ambition will be to offer them the best possible digital customer experience…

Here you are with a business strategy and an axis of transformation of your culture (or affirmation of the latter, if that’s already the way you are). At this stage, you don’t need techno, engineers, software editors, consultants in marketing, sales, customer relations, HR… Nothing. A paper, a pencil, a day of reflection (and only one) and a good conversation (or even several) with your collaborators… And your customers. If you don’t have a clear vision and a goal to achieve, you’ll get caught up in the movement and the last person to talk to you will win. This is common when you have to navigate in a world where everything is confusing, where each interlocutor has his own vision of things.

It takes time and a lot of practice to get an idea of how to approach a digital transformation project and starting from the customer is a matter of common sense. On this point, entrepreneurs in small start-ups without a fixed business model are incredibly pragmatic and know how to move around a vision and bring stakeholders together with talent.

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#2 Go on an adventure with the right equipment

Nothing is worse than going on an adventure with inadequate equipment. It’s even a good way to end up in a newspaper’s “news” column. In this case, what you need are a few solid, easy-to-understand concepts. Even if it’s jargon in English and told by techies, the concepts that matter are based on common sense and it’s pretty much the same, worldwide.

Let’s quickly scan the two or three “tools” that enable a quality digital customer experience:

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Inbound marketing at the heart of the digital customer experience

The ugliest term of the last twenty years. The basic idea is simple and comes directly from Mr. Seth Godin. He starts from the assumption that we are fed up with advertising and that the day will come when we will simply ignore it and even end up ignoring the companies that abuse it. He proposes to return to good manners by simply asking permission to talk about oneself and one’s services. Obsolete?

That was in 1999, and the future has proven him damn right. We, the customers, don’t like advertising and we let them know it. If you don’t come up with quality information, which will help me in my buying process, I will simply skip you and go to your competitor.

You have certainly read articles on the internet and social networks, filled out a form to receive a white paper, a brochure, rates … In short, you went fishing for useful information? Well, that’s inbound marketing.

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Social selling

It’s great to market with the internet, social networks, good content and a great website. But if you then have a salesman, a bit of a bully, who picks up the phone and tries to sell your merchandise to a prospect who’s not hot enough… That’s the drama. And you’ll get a barrage of insults on the same networks, if your salesman comes across a guy like me who has no qualms about throwing the wrong people in the lion’s den, to the delight of the plebs.

Using social networks to meet your future customers, help those you are already in touch with to buy more, more often and encourage them to recommend you, that’s what social selling is all about. It is simply using social networks to initiate and maintain a conversation with your market. If you have some time, go read the incredible Cluetrain Manifesto. You will quickly understand the value of your sales force’s presence on social networks.

If you mix your inbound marketing with social selling, you start to make marketing and sales align and work together. The customer notices this and their experience improves which leads to higher sales and lower customer acquisition costs.

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Employee advocacy

Still relying on social networks, you will offer your employees the opportunity to become your ambassadors and say how proud they are to work with you.

If you are a bully, this is not the right option at all… On the other hand, if you consider that the symmetry of attentions is a good approach and that a satisfied employee is a good way to ensure that you have customers who will be satisfied, it’s good not to keep this jealously in-house and to make it known.

If you orchestrate this with the great principles of customer experience, you start to have a story that makes sense, that makes people want to be there, and that allows you to get employees, customers, financial partners and suppliers on board… In short, your ecosystem will want to follow you because you know where you are going.

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#3 Make your way in the right direction and take the steps at the right time

For some of you, I’ve just been pushing open doors. That’s fine. However, it often happens that on the way you start too fast or miss an important step.

You start at the end and, in the end, you exhaust your teams, your resources and your customers. It takes a good dose of humility and therefore experience to be able to assess your “digital” maturity and define the order of the steps to take and the pace. This is the magic and genius of Merlin/Leonard and this is what we wanted to tell you about via our infographic on digital maturity and the booklet that accompanies it and goes into a little more detail: download it to get a clearer idea of the path you’ll have to take (it will be online soon).

It’s not a panacea, nor is it a magic wand, and you still need to put in the effort and “brain juice” to draw the overall plan and execute it brilliantly.

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In conclusion

Seen from afar, the link between digital customer experience and digital transformation seems a bit tenuous, but it turns out that after dozens of projects and a lot of meetings, work and reading, we have finally found the right ingredients, the right mix, in short, the right formula to successfully complete your digital transition.

Let’s face it: the road is long, ambitious, full of pitfalls and requires a good dose of courage to get started. Leaders and managers who have embarked on the adventure have taken a good lead over the competition and no longer even question the ROI.

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Benefits… as if it was raining

Improved margins, recruitment, customer satisfaction, reduced prospecting costs… Digital transformation is a global business project that puts the company in a virtuous circle.

Feel free to download the resources we have made available to you as well as those of our partners. If you want to continue this conversation, contact me on social networks or take a time in my agenda.

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Image credits : Vecteezy

Posted By Sylvain

For the past 20 years, Sylvain has been choosing and assembling the best technologies for his key account clients, to help them create a successful end-to-end customer experience. Surely the Leonard of the team, he is a fan - and expert - of Marketo! He sits next to his clients, drives them forward and makes Marketing Automation projects succeed with his team.