09/07/2018 |

Digital Transformation Means Freedom

Digital transformation encourages us to become more efficient through standardization, automation
and the subsequent digitalization of constantly recurring tasks and procedures.

man sitting with laptop on the ground next to a wall

Digital transformation means freedom. At first glance, that sounds strange. As companies moan about related processes, restrictions and regulations, one wonders what part of digital transformation gives rise to more freedom. Let’s take a closer look …

In our daily work, we spend a lot of time on routine activities. We frequently repeat tasks that really don’t require great technological or creative skill. We spend a considerable amount of time on this work, and it’s time that could be used for more significant tasks or business development. This is precisely where digital transformation comes into play: it encourages us to become more efficient through standardization, automation and the subsequent digitalization of these constantly recurring tasks and procedures. Greater efficiency means having more freedom for things that are important to us.

If we make the right changes, we free ourselves up for new ideas that require creativity, spontaneity and a free spirit.

If we make the right changes, we not only free ourselves from time killers, but we also free ourselves up for new ideas that require creativity, spontaneity and a free spirit.

Digital Transformation Meets Customer Service

Let’s take a customer service team, for example. In this context, freedom might result in more individual contact or personal conversations with a customer. In customer service, embracing the idea of digital change allows teams to optimize the customer experience. With the freedom they gain through digital transformation, agents can really start to focus on and address:

  • Building direct customer relationships
  • Offering individualized service and
  • Providing high-quality consulting.

Today’s customers want immediate and quick answers and solutions to their questions and problems. However, they don’t want to feel like they are “just a number,” so we should not give the impression that there is only one standard answer for every situation. Instead, building a relationship with the customer should be a top priority, meaning that the customer must feel that the consultant, or agent in this case, is developing a real understanding of his or her situation and is acting and advising in this regard. As we work towards digitally transforming customer service, agents gain the freedom to focus on the way they interact with customers so that this personalized, constructive approach to service is encouraged.

Not only will customers benefit, but agents will also feel relief in knowing that they have completed everything as expected.

Take the First Step Toward Freedom

All this takes time, which can only be gained if you can free yourself (and your team) from the burden of recurring tasks. For this, it is first important to identify precisely which activities are routine in nature. For example, in customer service, these might be return requests, billing inquires or password reset questions.

Then, for anything that falls in this category, where there is a routine and standard solution, start developing FAQs. Now, instead of having to come up with an individual answer each time the same question is asked, agents can use the standard answers to help customers more quickly and easily. In fact, for typical questions, a catalog of answers can be created, and technology can be used to give the customer automatic self-service access.

Other tasks can be done faster and more easily by digitizing processes too. A process is a series of predefined steps that follow one another in a specific order. Processes add structure to the processing of information and break down what has to be done into small clear pieces, removing any confusion from tasks. Details like when a task needs to be completed, how it needs to be done and to whom it should be forwarded when complete are no longer in question.

Once a process has been defined, technology can be used to make the process flow automatically. Agents never need to think about the details again. This way,

  • mistakes can be avoided;
  • transparency and service quality increase; and
  • satisfaction rates climb.

Not only will customers benefit, but agents will also feel relief in knowing that they have completed everything as expected.

Using technology to manage information and processes saves a lot of time that can be used for building relationships, other projects and business development: that’s the freedom of digital transformation.

Stepping Beyond Technology

But digital transformation is not just about standardization and automation. Businesses today need to be adaptable and responsive, because change is happening faster and faster. They must be agile in their thinking, work and use of technology.

When it comes to serving customers, this means implementing a customer-oriented, agile organizational structure. In concrete terms, this translates to having tangible short-term plans in place, but still letting long-term ideas and assumptions drive the vision. In this way, important projects can start quickly, prove their effectiveness, and be terminated with short notice if they are found to be ineffective. However, with these quick-start, and sometimes short-lived plans, it’s important that the organization have access to and knowledge of tools that can be adapted quickly and behave flexibly.

Freedom means not having to hold onto eternally-defined decisions, but instead having the tools in place to adapt plans quickly and easily, or even discard them if it seems necessary. This is of considerable importance in customer service organizations, because customers can also quickly reorient themselves through easy access to information, the large number of offers, and the way products are becoming increasingly easy to replace. Excellent customer service combines flexibility in approach with good offers and excellent quality of service in order to really inspire customers in the long-term and increase their loyalty to the company.

Keep in mind, however, that adapting organizational and technological structures alone is not enough to generate the freedom for the creative entrepreneurial-like initiatives that stem from digital transformation. As you embark on this course, it is necessary to adapt the corporate culture, and thus the work culture, to reflect the spirit of change and this new approach. After all, it is still the human being who is the focus of this change, whether customer or employee.

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