Brian Solis has a knack for turning complex ideas into sharable truths. Earlier this year, the celebrated futurist and author of What’s the Future of Business, made an observation that cuts straight through the endless handwringing and hackneyed predictions that often shape conversations about digital: “To succeed in the business of the future, we have to become the very people that we’re trying to reach.”
However, this process of becoming is less about how quickly you can invest in technology than it is about how thoroughly you can commit to the belief that digital is the mode through which customers engage with the world. For many businesses, embracing omnichannel technology platforms and real-time social media strategy can serve as a ruse for the real work at hand – signing up to the idea that digital isn’t a channel but a mindset is a prerequisite if you want to build customer relationships that equal revenue and growth.
In July 2014, IBM conducted a study that highlights the urgency of adopting a digital mindset while proving that customers no longer distinguish between online and offline. The survey, which focuses on the retail sector and considers the views of 1,822 Australian customers, found that loyalty was increasingly tied to a brand’s delivery of omnichannel missives, including consistent product selection across every channel, in-store return for online purchases and the ability to buy an item online and have it shipped at home if it isn’t available in a physical store.
In other words, customers aren’t interested in the structural limitations caused by multiple channels – they want businesses to understand that digital reality is simply a seamless extension of their offline lives.
But if you’re a business leader grappling with competing priorities and channel conflict, how do you take up Solis’ mission and become the customer that you’re trying to reach? Familiarise yourself with the overview of three qualities that underpin a digital mindset.
When it comes to adopting a digital perspective, it’s worth noting that consistency has become a byword for credibility. Whether you’re in telecommunications, government or retail, ensuring that you offer the same suite of products and services across every touchpoint and using real-time data to glean insights that will help you guide customers through a seamless and relevant journey isn’t a business consideration – it’s central to the survival of your brand.
If you’re a business leader, empathy is your best asset. Recalling the last time you were inconvenienced by a brand that you trusted and the impact on your loyalty levels is a powerful motivator for conceiving and investing in a brand experience that meets your customer where they are, every time. It’s easy to forget that putting customers at the heart of your business starts with an ability to put yourself in their shoes. Investments in technology should heighten convenience and enable a seamless customer journey – customer-centric thinking should drive your decision-making process, not the other way round.
A digital mindset is by nature an agile one. Whether it means incorporating tools and analytics that spark data-driven insights, responding to market movements and spikes in buyer behaviour or swapping silos and hierarchies for scalable systems and processes, agility is rooted in actions and perspectives that capitalise on opportunities as soon as they appear.
If you run a business, questioning the notion that digital is a descriptor for a specific channel is a powerful exercise that can change the way you think about your brand. And inevitably, this shift in mindset is the first phase in signing up to the digital thinking that will help you create a customer-centric business