August 26, 2022

Digital Transformation Customer Journey

Digital transformation should be about improving the customer journey. More specifically, your modernization efforts should focus on understanding—and aligning your company with—your customers’ needs and expectations. Doing so sets you apart in the marketplace, building customer loyalty and retention, and, ultimately, protecting your market position.

Unfortunately, far too often, companies embark on digital transformation with a primary focus on modernizing their business or streamlining operations. While these can be important factors, in failing to consider the customer journey, digital transformations are less likely to succeed. In fact, according to McKinsey, “nearly 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail.”

Yet, the answer to ensuring that your digital efforts pay off is a surprisingly simple concept. Research bridges the gap between digital transformation and customer journey, and it can make the difference between a successful modernization effort and the other 70%.

What is digital transformation and why do most fail?

Before diving into what using digital means to optimize the customer journey, let’s explore what exactly we mean by “digital transformation.” The term refers to the process of modernizing your business. However, it’s often less about the technology itself and more about adopting an agile mindset focused on identifying and solving for specific problems.

At 3Pillar Global, we call this the Product Mindset. The Product Mindset is integral to the way we help clients serve their customers. We do so by aligning goals with user needs and minimizing time to value by focusing on solving for specific problems.

Because this mindset focuses on continual iterations and improvement, by adopting it, you recognize that digital transformation isn’t one-and-done; it is one of the biggest reasons many modernization initiatives fail.

Instead, digital transformation is an ongoing quest to improve the way you serve customers at every level of your business. Taking the time upfront to research your audience, how they use your digital products, and how they talk about you and marketplace competitors helps you prioritize your modernization efforts and ensure they fit your market.

Another key factor that your success hinges on is your company culture. Your customer journey and digital transformation are more likely to succeed if you focus on developing a culture that prioritizes excelling at change, solving customer needs, and embraces learning from failures. In fact, a study by BCG found that “companies that focused on culture were 5x more likely to achieve breakthrough performance than companies that neglected culture.”

How is digital transformation related to the customer journey?

More importantly, what is the customer journey and how does it relate to customer experience? The simplest possible definition of customer journey is also quite broad. It’s every prospective touchpoint a customer has with your company, from first encountering you in the marketplace all the way through their lifecycle as a customer.

Because the customer journey covers so much ground and touches a wide range of roles in your company, understanding it starts with research. Research allows you to create and internalize your customer’s needs. Having this insight will help you define and prioritize features for your development team. Truthfully, you’re never done researching your customer experience because optimizing your customer journey is an ongoing process. External influences on the market, competitor advances, and changing technology mean that there are always opportunities to improve.

While that can sound intimidating if you’re first starting out on digital transformation of the customer journey, by focusing on research first, you’ll be able to map the customer journey and prioritize your efforts.

Once you have a solid understanding of your customer touchpoints, you can dive into user data and customer feedback to identify where you have the most friction and where you’re losing people. This research is key because it helps you prioritize which opportunities require the least effort and drive maximum results, leading to your customer experience roadmap.

Effect of digital transformation on the customer journey

Digital transformation improves the customer journey by meeting customers on their terms. According to Forrester, “More than 30% of today’s B2B technology buyers say digital engagement channels such as vendor websites have become more important in their purchase journeys.”

We need only look as far as the pandemic to see examples of digital transformation on the customer experience in wide-ranging industries, including:

  • Online ordering and delivery in restaurant and grocery industries
  • Increased virtual visits for telemedicine
  • Online learning increases, due in part to sweeping career changes

The truth is that digital transformation of the customer journey is not limited to pandemic-driven changes.

Starbucks is improving the customer journey with its app. The extensive loyalty rewards program as well as online ordering for in-store pickup shortens the wait and allows Starbucks customers to maintain their tight schedules.

Warby Parker, an online glasses retailer, allows customers to experience what their glasses might look like with virtual try-on. The virtual try-on feature makes it easier to purchase glasses you love while minimizing returns.

Digital transformation is the future of the customer journey

Digital transformation is not without its challenges, but it is the way of the future—especially when it comes to optimizing the customer journey. However, by prioritizing research, you’ll gain a stronger understanding of your customers’ needs, which removes the guesswork of what they expect and want so you can align with their needs.

3Pillar Global excels at helping organizations understand and prioritize their customer needs so they can successfully modernize their customer journey. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Special thanks to these members of FORCE, 3Pillar’s expert network, for their contributions to this article.

FORCE is 3Pillar Global’s Thought Leadership Team comprised of technologists and industry experts offering their knowledge on important trends and topics in digital product development.