Your Customer is on Their Own Digital Transformation Journey

This week’s guest is Howard Tiersky, a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, founder, and CEO of FROM The Digital Transformation Agency. His latest book is Winning Digital Customers – The Antidote to Irrelevance.  IDG says that Howard is “One of The Top 10 Digital Transformation Influencers to Follow Today.” The Digitally Irresistible podcast is focused on the integration of digital technology and customer experience. Hence, this episode features Howard’s thought leadership on the premise that digital transformation starts with customer experience.

Howard began his career in theater and quickly got involved in the technology side of production. He became immersed in it and soon found himself consulting for businesses in the 1990s on digital strategies. Over the last twenty years, he has consulted with companies such as Airbus, GE, GM, Office Depot, NBC, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and others guiding them in their digital transformation strategy.

Howard says that today’s most successful companies are aligned with their customer’s digital transformation. He observes this across several industries in his client base with patterns common across large enterprises that are challenged in driving transformation.

A Proven Approach to Digital Transformation

Howard says his approach is not the only approach to successful digital transformation, but it is proven to work. It starts with a binary perspective of the challenge.  

The first layer starts with understanding that your customer is undergoing a digital transformation of their own. All consumers have an increasingly digital lifestyle. We shop, plan vacations, and connect with friends digitally.

The other layer is internal. Every business needs to know how to transform to stay relevant to the customer. About fifteen years ago, Sears was the number one retailer in the U.S., representing 1% of GDP. Today Sears has just a few hundred stores compared to more than 30,000 stores in the height of their glory. Sears didn’t adapt to the changing behavior of their customer fast enough. This layer is about understanding how to be more relevant to your customer. That’s why the subtitle of his book is The Antidote to Irrelevance.

What is Meant by The Customer Experience?

The customer experience is everything the customer experiences when they interact with your brand. It starts with your marketing. Customers see your ads, pass by your store, hear about you from a friend, read a review, use your website or your mobile app. Everything a customer does in the context of your product or service gives them a reason to interact. The entire customer journey is often made up of many touchpoints, some of which you can control and some you cannot. Howard says that improving the customer experience is the single most important thing any business can do to impact success.

Omnichannel Customer Experience

We know the biggest trend in customer experience is the use of digital channels to interact with the brands they buy from, often referred to as the omnichannel customer experience. Howard’s book explains the “strategic customer experience model.”

The model enables executives to architect the customer experience in a manner that explains why it’s important to the business to get the funding needed to deliver ROI in CX. It explains how the customer experience delivers business results.

The model answers the question what difference does customer experience make to the business? Start by looking at your company’s revenue and profit goals. Then, examine what are the causes of the results? Consider how we can get customers to behave the way we want them to behave to create the results we seek.  

The Psychology of Customer Behavior

Customer behavior is driven by the same two things that drive human behavior: thoughts and feelings. We’re all consumers. We think we need a product to meet a need and we consider how it makes us feel when the need is met. The business strategy tied to this psychology is to determine what are the thoughts and feelings our customers have that influence their behavior with our business?

If you can create experiences that produce the thoughts and feelings which result in the behavior that results in the purchase outcome we seek, we stay relevant with the customer and enjoy success. For example, homeowners need insurance to protect against catastrophic events such as fire or inclement weather. A common feeling associated with a homeowner’s insurance policy is peace of mind.

It takes research to determine the thoughts and feelings of your customer. For example, if you’re a provider of homeowner’s insurance, research what thoughts people have about companies in this space. Research what emotions they feel when planning to purchase homeowner’s insurance. Once you have completed research, the creative process begins to produce ideas to influence those thoughts and feelings and test them to learn how they impact the customer’s behavior.

When the people who make these decisions determine which touchpoints influence the customer’s behavior this insight has the potential to drive the desired business results.

Maximizing the Opportunity

Your customer research should also help you understand where the customer experiences friction in their journey with your brand. It’s critical that stakeholders internalize the importance of customer experience to achieve the company’s goals. Embracing proven practices such as design thinking and agile dev-ops can enable companies to go from understanding customer behavior to creating the kind of experiences that customers desire. New ideas should be tested.

Howard points out that companies are made up of people and they need to have the right people on board through good hiring and training on practices such as services-based architecture, design thinking, and agile dev-ops.

Howard’s book: Winning Digital Customers – The Antidote to Irrelevance is available wherever you buy books. You can download a free chapter at his website: https://winningdigitalcustomers.com/

Howard’s Passion for Scuba Diving

What Howard does for fun is adventurous. He is an avid scuba diver. He has five kids, most of whom follow in his footsteps. His 19-year-old is certified and has traveled the world with him to explore deep waters. He describes scuba diving as “flying underwater.” That’s a transformative experience of its own.  

Learn more about iQor’s digital customer experience capabilities.

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