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Can digital transformation be truly finished when CX work has barely begun?

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Can digital transformation be truly finished when CX work has barely begun?

UserTesting CX report 2021

For at least the last six months, I’ve conducted countless interviews with people from varied backgrounds who have all noted the same trend: that the pandemic put digital transformation initiatives into high gear. No one, however, has suggested those initiatives will ever have an end date.

I was surprised, therefore, when I read the 2021 CX Industry Report from UserTesting that came out this morning, which suggested that many organizations have treated digital transformation as something that can be checked off their to-do lists.

According to the survey of more than 4,700 business professionals, 71 per cent noted that they’re either in-process or have completed their digital transformation. This was up from 56 per cent last year, which is still a lot better than I would have expected.

The report doesn’t go into great detail about how digital transformation is defined, or what being “done” means. Is it setting your company up on social media channels and connecting them to your service operation? Is it easing the process of taking orders via e-commerce? Is it being able to track engagement with marketing materials?

I would bet that if you talked to any vendor that offers digital technologies, they would be pretty quick to point out that transformation is an ongoing work in progress. After all, new channels and tools are emerging all the time. You might be “done” in terms of adopting digital to achieve a business objective, but there will inevitably be more.

Things get even muddier when you look at other data in the UserTesting report. Despite everything that’s happened over the past year, 60 per cent agreed with the following statement:

“We’re acting on some CX goals, but it’s all in reaction to feedback or issues that arise. There isn’t a clearly-defined strategy that’s understood and embraced by the organization.”

No dedicated CX team, in other words. No chief customer officer. Those reactive CX goals might, in fact, be more traditional and inward-focused, such as reducing handle time in their contact centre.

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Not all CX efforts need to focus on digital experiences, but all digital experiences need to put CX front and centre. I wonder to what extent those initiatives that were sped up because of COVID-19 were truly projects designed to benefit customers, versus the organization that worked on them.

I would suggest this is a good time to look at data like what’s outlined in the UserTesting report and use it as a basis for self-assessment, rather than a benchmark. If you lack a defined CX strategy, how can you be sure you’ve accomplished what the best digital transformation initiatives can offer an organization?

If you’re still primarily in reactive mode with customers, for example, you’re overlooking the way digital tools can help you get ahead of issues they may bring forward. Given that we don’t know how long the pandemic will change everyday life, meanwhile, a lot of customers’ digital needs have yet to be discovered.

CX and digital transformation need to be in done in lock step with each other. You’re not done with either until customers say you’re done.

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