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Digital Innovation and Growth Starts with Your Customers


By engaging with and listening to your customers, you can continually learn and be ready for what’s next. It’s the best way to spur digital innovation and growth.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of our three-part series examining how organizations can stay ahead of tomorrow in these uncertain times, based on interviews with Medallia’s leading experts.)

It’s an understatement to say that times have changed. Fueled by a global pandemic, digital transformation happened almost overnight. As McKinsey puts it, 10 years worth of ecommerce acceleration happened within just three months.

But while company leaders have been focused on digital for years, 78% wouldn’t rate their strategies as being very effective and only 30% of digital transformation efforts have met expectations. That’s a huge gap to fill — and one that’s absolutely critical for survival post-pandemic amid changing consumer behaviors. After all, the pandemic showed that customers were not afraid to shift loyalty — with 76% of consumers changing brands or shopping habits — if they felt a competitor offered a better experience. 

 Digital Innovation and Growth

In order to attract and retain customers, you must adapt and innovate faster than the competition. You need to understand what to address now, and predict what customers will want next. You also need to get these insights faster so you know how and where to focus your resources. In other words, digital innovation and growth starts with a keen focus on the customer experience.

Meet customers where they are and engage in the moment

Building customer relationships in a digital age is a balancing act in which customer needs have to be met while anticipating tomorrow’s preferences. But, the pandemic showed us just how quickly business conditions can change. That’s why having the ability to adapt in real time has become so important today — across all industries.

“In the public sector, we are seeing agencies working quickly to reinvent themselves in real time,” said Lee Becker, VP, Solutions Principal, public sector and regulated industries, Medallia, who previously spent 11 years in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helping lead the federal government’s first customer experience office. “These agencies are still trying to figure out how to best engage and support employees and customers at scale through these changes. And with many government services covered by so many laws and regulations, and where customer experience is not a primary business focus yet, agencies tend to be in a reactionary state. Like the private sector, it is critical for government agencies to focus on their customers and employees to move from a reactionary to a proactive state that will improve mission impact and outcome for all.”

Businesses across industries have spent the past year scrambling to adapt to rapidly changing conditions and consumer behavior. In the automotive industry, for example, the pandemic has given rise to the digital automotive marketplace.

“Whether it is Carvana, Tesla or the like, there are options for buying vehicles that are more aligned with the ever-increasing population who wants to shop and purchase a vehicle in a digital format,” said Bryan Long, Medallia’s solution principal for automotive, who’s spent three decades working in the industry for major manufacturers. “In order to better understand what automotive customers are looking for, industry leaders are looking for richer feedback throughout the customer journey.”

The only way to get richer insights is by making it easier for customers to provide feedback and engaging with them across all the channels they interact with you. 

This includes from your website, mobile app, chat services, social media, contact centers, email — even via drive-through or curbside services at physical locations. Make sure customers have the ability to provide feedback across multiple channels. Capture all the signals your customers are sending you in real time, from both direct (e.g surveys) and indirect feedback (e.g. social media), operational data and observed behavior. 

Use real-time insights to understand what your customers want

Today’s consumer is smarter, more connected, and expects more than ever, with 75% of consumers saying they want consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social) and 73% likely to switch brands if they don’t get it.

“Customer reacquisition and retention are the biggest focus for companies today,” said Geoffrey Ryskamp, Global Head of Hospitality for Medallia, who has two decades of experience in the hospitality sector with PwC, Marriott, and Hilton; most recently a founding member of the asset management team at Pebblebrook Hotel Trust. “Habits have reset, and many customers are trying new brands for the first time. We are seeing previously loyal and more predictable customers revisit their purchasing criteria.”

In retail, brands that were able to launch or quickly improve their digital offerings, including buy online and pickup in store or curbside options, maintained, and in some cases, grew revenue. COVID-19-related shifts in buying behavior translated into an additional $41.54 billion in digital revenue for retailers November through December in 2020.

“While convenience has always been critical to customer experiences, customers today have redefined what convenience means,” said Zack Hamilton, Medallia’s Solution Principal for Retail, who previously spent over 10 years leading customer experience strategy, customer service operations and sales strategy for a North American retailer. “Ease and speed coupled with authentic human interactions is the winning recipe for the future.”

There’s no going back — digital is here to stay

Digital is now at the heart of almost every brand, and consumer behavior is changing faster than ever. To get — and to stay — ahead in this digital-first world, organizations must continually transform, adapting and innovating to overcome unpredictable market conditions and rising consumer expectations.

By putting people first, and engaging with and listening to your customers, you can continually learn and be ready for what’s next. It’s the only way to stay ahead of your customers — and the competition.

Download Medallia’s eBook “Stay Ahead of Tomorrow: The Executive’s Guide to Life After Digital Transformation” to learn how you can prepare for what’s next in today’s digital-first world.