As a business leader, it might be tempting to delegate all things digital to your IT department. This is especially true among small businesses, for whom the IT “department” might consist of a single person.
Yet even some large corporations have struggled to reconcile a legacy business model with a growing reality in the digital age: Your customers’ experiences with your digital platforms are directly tied to your bottom line. If you aren’t invested in every customer-facing aspect of your organization—online as well as offline—you will inevitably squander revenue.
In one sector after another, startups are disrupting legacy business models by putting the digital customer onboarding experience first. For legacy organizations whose business model is not native to a digital landscape, preparing against disruptors is a daunting task. If you’re worried about digital disruptors, you have three options—build your own digital interface, buy a competing startup with an inside track or partner with another entity, typically by licensing its platform.
Here are three of the most common mistakes business leaders make when trying to digitize their customer experience.
1. Trying To Build It Yourself
A company’s organizational DNA can be more permanent than its URL, logo or even leadership. A business that started 50 years ago will not have the same DNA as one founded in the last decade. It is admirable (even necessary) for leaders to believe their in-house personnel can execute their most ambitious plans. However, not every legacy company has the staffing to compete in the digital space with a tech startup or the industry know-how needed to hire people who are qualified to build a digital interface from scratch.
Google is a great example. The popular search engine broadened its app offerings to compete in such disparate arenas as social media, cloud gaming and surveys but hasn’t always found success with these endeavors and apps. Generating user engagement with one product does not guarantee engagement with another, even for a digitally native company such as Google.
2. Outsourcing To A Project Manager Who Isn’t Sensitive To Your Customer
Choosing to partner with another platform can be the most viable option for many businesses, but give careful consideration to your new partner’s background.
An accurate customer journey map is foundational to every good business model. Whoever is managing the digital interface must understand your target customer, your unique brand story and where the business and the customer connect. Otherwise, your customers’ digital experience will fall short of its potential. Is your website or app easy for your customers to navigate? Can your customers find solutions to their common problems and answers to their most frequent questions? Does the content reflect your brand’s voice?
Licensing someone else’s white-label platform doesn’t mean relinquishing ownership of your customer journey to a third party. Consider the example of Shopify. Individual stores license Shopify’s platform, but Shopify does not run the digital store. The site owner can’t simply tune out, especially if customers are following a different journey map depending on their reasons for visiting. No one at Shopify is going to own the customer journey for you.
3. Putting A Single Business Unit In Charge Of The Digital Customer Journey
Organizations that predate the digital age may have a robust IT department that’s capable of building a sound public-facing digital infrastructure for the future. When it comes to competing against digitally native businesses, technical know-how is only one part of the equation. To compete in the marketplace of the future, a digital mindset needs to permeate sales, marketing, customer service and every team under your corporate silo.
Appointing a chief digital officer can be useful for helping integrate digital initiatives into these various departments, but this individual is not there to oversee the digital customer journey. The entire C-suite of a digital disruptor understands customers who only know a business through its online entities—making purchases through an app and liking photos on an Instagram page.
The future of business increasingly depends on the digital user experience, especially its public-facing mobile presence. Legacy businesses cannot afford to ignore this reality and remain glued to their past. Merely understanding this principle is an important hurdle to clear. Successfully planning and executing a digital onboarding experience that is true to your brand, meets your customers’ needs and competes with others in your industry is a much taller task. The big ideas and human resources needed to pull it off aren’t likely to reside within the walls of a legacy organization, but taking that next step is critical to future success.