When most business owners think about digital operations, they think about websites, marketing, and social media, and how these platforms can help generate sales and revenue. Although these are major components of a digital operations strategy, they are not the only pieces. Businesses today face many pressures: high customer-experience expectations at each point of interaction; global competition; ever-changing technology, building, marketing, and maintaining a brand; and employee satisfaction.
This is where digital operations can have a positive effect on your business. Successful strategies leverage people, products, technology, marketing, and processes to keep the focus on your customers and provide them with the best experience. When all the pieces are aligned and driven with the same purpose, customers will buy more, stay longer, and tell more people about you. And you, as a business driver, will be able to focus on your products and services.
Below, I highlight a few of the areas in which digital operations can make a difference. But more critical than the individual elements is the overall cohesiveness — and how each supports and drives the other.
Your digital footprint defines your customer experience today. Gone are the days when your only customer experience came from a person walking through your doors or calling you. Today’s customers will research you, seek opinions from people who have used your products or services in the past, and compare pricing — all from the convenience of their mobile or connected devices.
A key component of creating a great customer experience is defining their journey online and offline and defining where those two elements meet and where they diverge. Every customer touchpoint should be examined — from the packaging of your products and marketing of your services to which employee answers customer-service requests.
Identifying issues, strategizing, and implementing a cohesive plan will help you give your customers a high-level, consistent, and memorable experience, regardless of how they decide to interact with you.
Data, data, and more data
A wealth of information is being gathered today about consumer behaviors, demographics, technology use — even location. That doesn’t even take into consideration your data from current and previous customers (products they’ve purchased, how often they’ve employed your services, etc.). Businesses often don’t realize they’re sitting on a gold mine of information. The ability to gather, interpret and identify trends within data is critical to a successful digital operations strategy. It allows you to provide insights about your customers that will shape and drive changes in processes, choice of technology platforms — even employees’ roles within your business.
Every day, there seems to be another hot app or website that captures the attention of your potential customers and, in some cases, even your employees. And within your business, you’re bombarded with sales pitches for analytic or customer relationship management tools, social media or other platforms, and automation. How do you make sense of all the changing technology, cut through the noise and determine which products will have a positive impact on your business and not just be a shiny penny? Having a clear, defined digital operations strategy will allow you to thoroughly evaluate new technology and determine if it can help your business improve overall customer experience.
At the core of every business is its people — you, a business owner, and your employees. Why are people also the core of a successful digital operations plan? Because even the best content, product, or website will fail if a customer has a poor experience or negative interaction with your company. When people are not part of the overall digital operations plan, customer experience will be disjointed and disorganized. And automation can only do so much. Without people optimizing and maintaining it, customer experience will suffer.
At this point, you might be asking, “How does a business owner or person responsible for delivering results identify, evaluate and implement clear, purpose-driven digital operations plan while also running a business?” The answer is by leveraging a system and set of processes built around your core values and defined customer experience. This will provide overall guidance for the numerous components of the operations plan. In addition, involving people with diverse skill sets (marketing, customer service, finance, technology, operations, and legal) in your business helps you provide your customers with the best experience at each point of interaction.