Why digital leaders build their businesses around customer need

By Michael Von der Geest, Partner, EY.

Some businesses obsess about their customers and others don’t. As consumers, we know the difference only too well. Just compare the ease of using social media with the frustration that often comes with dealing with your utilities provider.

That’s because some organisations are still shaped more by their own internal practices than by what their customers want. Put simply, they are built ‘inside out’. But today’s leaders operate and organise themselves around the needs of their customers. In other words, they are built ‘outside-in.’

That difference looks set to become even more crucial as rapidly rising consumer expectations and waves of technological disruption are putting increasing pressure on organisations.

Yet the digital and data revolutions that have powered this shift have also created a unique opportunity to make the transformation from ‘doing okay’ to ‘digital leader’. Companies now have the chance to move their customer offering from a subjective and largely intuitive process to one that’s data-driven, highly-engineered and delivers continuous measurable improvements in business outcomes and customer satisfaction.

Making customers your North Star won’t just make them happy, by encouraging them to spend, trust and recommend more it will also help you accelerate growth.

But how does it work in practice?

Refocussing and obsessing on your customers is not simply a technology issue that requires a few tweaks to your platform. It often means making fundamental changes at operating and even business model level so that the internal silos that obstruct the connection between you and your customer can be broken down.

But that does not necessarily mean a ‘ground zero’ approach. Over the last three years we have helped several major global companies to transform their customers’ experience. They are, in most cases, large, established players with legacy technology. And we often started small.

Where do you start?

The first stage is to research, understand and identify the friction points that stop customer needs being met, followed by assessing the investment required to address them. Putting together a customer experience-led business case typically takes between eight weeks and five months, according to the size of the company and the complexity of the task.

As an aside, what I mean by platform is not just tech; I see this as harnessing technology people and capabilities. But, that deserves a blog of it’s own.

Delivering results, fast

To get the best results quickly, we believe strongly in the use of micro services and cloud-first architecture. What does that mean in practical terms? It means we help clients access and deploy the best on the market to build out their technology platform, rather than getting everything from one single provider. This enables clients to benefit from the best available talent and the most agile architecture, while also enjoying the flexibility to swap out any component parts, rather than being stuck with one monolithic system.

We can support you fully during this process by creating an ecosystem of allied suppliers that can build to your individual needs rather than impose an off the shelf system.

Your sector, your obsession

Our capabilities have been built on our work with TMT and financial services clients, but with customer expectations on the rise across all industries we have scaled up to work in diverse areas including health, government and transport. We’ve even helped cruise company Royal Caribbean to add a new dimension to their customers’ onboard experience . So, whatever your industry, we can help you turn customer experience into a competitive advantage.

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