The Easiest Way to Start Your Digital Transformation

What’s an easy step to begin your company’s digital transformation? This may sound simplistic: Start by collecting your customers’ contact information.

Why is this a powerful place to begin?

Think of what it’s like to meet someone for the first time and quickly develop a romantic interest. In order to develop a multi-faceted relationship in which you could get to know each other, you need contact information. It’s a signal that you want to go further than the immediate moment, in order to learn more about his/her life and vice versa.

After all, who wants to date someone who is one-dimensional? And who wants to do business with companies that can only do one thing?

The best organizations understand the need to go much further: instead, they re-invent themselves using the idea that companies offer several categories or dimensions of offerings.

Four Dimensions

1. a product – a tangible or digital object.

2. a service – an act performed on the customer’s behalf.

3. a relationship – a partnership for mutual gain.

4. a transformation – a learning experience which improves the customers’ intrinsic capabilities.

For example, a company that sells exercise equipment (a kind of product) could add offerings such as:

– assistance in helping customers set up their home gyms safely and efficiently (a service)

– two months of participation in a weight-loss boot camp with a group of similar people (a relationship)

– a training programme that teaches them how to vary their exercise regime with age (a transformation)

These three additional dimensions can be used to convert a single, momentary transaction into an ongoing source of revenue. It may seem paradoxical, but a company which thinks about these dimensions is more likely to ask for contact information. Why is that? Like serious dating, knowing how to reach the customer is the way for them to build a mutually beneficial, multi-faceted relationship.

However, here’s the baffling reality: most companies don’t even ask for this information. Instead, they focus on whoever happens to walk in next,

If your organization isn’t executing this important function, perhaps one of the reasons below might apply.

1. The Overall Mission is Lacking

Asking for contact information from a stranger is a delicate matter. It’s somewhat intrusive, and a customer service representative (CSR) in your company who can foresee a possible rejection is likely to skip this step. Why?

More often than not, they simply don’t appreciate the importance. After all, the person who wants the data is far away in your marketing department. The CSR doesn’t report to them and has probably never been given the big-picture point of view.

Consequently, when the customer asks, “What do you want my contact information for?” they are met with a blank look. Your CSR’s have not been prepared with an answer.

2. The Means Aren’t Provided

A company that provides its staff with only a clipboard, paper and pencil to collect contact information has done the bare minimum. However, it creates a problem for someone who must enter the data at a later date. Furthermore, they send a signal to the customer that the effort isn’t a serious one.

Instead, your organization should set up a landing page on its website, and supply its staff with a tablet or smartphone to be used on the spot. This solves many problems at once and allows the customer to receive a response in real-time.

3. A Focus on Mass Marketing

In most companies, the marketing department hasn’t made the transition to thinking about its customers as the single best source of future business. Instead, your company may still see advertising to the public as the primary channel. However, if it were to make the switch, then finding more about customers’ specific, future needs would be a critical objective.

Reconsider the case of the gym equipment store. If the managers have a hard time imagining services, relationships and transformations to offer, then it could simply ask its past customers: “Thanks for shopping with us. We are interested to know what you might want next in your journey towards a fitter version of yourself. Please answer a few questions to help us meet your needs.”

As ordinary as these ideas may sound, I can’t think of three local companies who use them. Even those who have my information don’t contact me as a prior customer: I find out about their offerings from the newspapers, television or internet.

I imagine that they are wasting millions, reinventing one campaign after another, chasing after the same members of the public each time. The solution to this dilemma? Collect contact information from their customers and use it to develop deeper relationships. This approach may kick-start the digital transformation that keeps them alive.

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