So much of the economy has gone digital. We buy, invoice, pay taxes, market, and serve customers digitally, and we've seen the rapid acceleration of digital transformation, thanks to a global pandemic.
Even companies that have “gone digital” have processes that are ripe for transformation. And improved communication is at the heart of the opportunity.
Digital Transformation is a Communication Issue
Even seemingly mundane transformation projects can have outsized effects.
I once spoke to the IT director of a logistics company. He described their internal ordering process and it centered on one thing: their stockroom and workshop were on opposite sides of their enormous site.
To order parts, an engineer would deliver a paper form by hand to the stockroom one and a half miles away. The stock manager would then validate the order, again by hand. When that was done, the engineer could walk back to the workshop.
Each time it took around an hour. Each day, engineers placed an average of ten orders. Over the course of a year, roughly 2,500 hours of engineer time were spent submitting these orders.
Then the IT manager implemented a digital stock management system. The time to place an order shrank to around ten minutes, saving over 2,000 hours each year.
That happened in 2017 but such a story wouldn’t have been out of place in the 1980s. So, you might think that all the easy transformation jobs have been done already.
You’d be wrong. The beauty of digital transformation is that what was hard last year is the thing that’s easy next year. Thanks to cloud communication platforms, like Vonage, the greatest scope for digital transformation today lies in both internal and customer communication.
In the past ten years, customer communication channels have grown enormously. Expectations have changed too. Facebook Messenger, for example, gives businesses a “Very responsive to messages” badge only if they reply to 90% of messages within 15 minutes.
“Hey,” you might be thinking, “how is this digital transformation?” You’re right. Nobody––let’s hope––is printing customer tweets and walking them across the office for a colleague to pen a reply. But digital transformation today is less about those first steps from manual to digital. Instead, it’s about driving bigger returns from digital investments.
The three biggest opportunities today for driving those returns are to:
- Embrace cloud communication: there’s one prerequisite for bringing digital transformation to your communication and that’s to move your communication to the cloud. With a communication platform as a service (CPaaS) offering, such as Nexmo’s, you have the all the building blocks at hand to take the next steps.
- Create a single conversation: the only way to handle the ever expanding number of communication channels efficiently is to separate the conversation from the platform. With a cloud communication platform, you can bring together tweets, WhatsApp messages, SMS, voice calls, and more into a single conversation between your organization and the customer.
- Prepare for automation: once your communication is in the cloud, you’ll have the flexibility to integrate with automated communication services.
You can start consolidating your communication today but what do you need to consider in the next couple of years?
The big story for the coming five years is automated communication. You’ve almost certainly considered how chatbots, for example, could be a part of your communication strategy.
Automation is a bread-and-butter aspect of digital transformation and it’s about more than just chatbots.
Here are the top communication automation themes you need to consider over the coming half decade:
- Anticipation: the combination of ever more data and machine learning means that companies can find patterns in customer behaviour and then use that knowledge to anticipate future customer needs. For a simple example, a bank might recognise that a certain class of customer requests duplicate statements around tax filing time. Rather than wait for the customer to ask, and incur the expense of handling that enquiry, a semi-automated contact center could offer the duplicates through whichever channel––Facebook Messenger, for example––that customer prefers.
- Chatbots as IVRs: chatbots are not yet ready to handle customer communication entirely on their own. However, they can act as a useful vanguard. Just as IVRs help customers navigate your organization, a chatbot can triage customer queries and pass them to a human agent if necessary.
- Human augmentation: in a similar vein, automated communication isn’t so much a story of replacing humans as making them more effective. Expect to invest in a corporate virtual assistant that brings Alexa-like functionality not just to your customers but also to your human agents. A virtual assistant can listen into every call and provide the agent with precisely what they need to help the customer. The customer gets a human to speak to and the benefit of a super-fast, context-aware automated agent.
Digital transformation is all about taking advantage of digital technologies that improve what you’re doing today.
Your organization’s communication, both with customers and internally, offers enormous potential for helping customers more effectively, improving the happiness and performance of your team, and for saving money.
The first step to transforming your communication is to move to the cloud, and we at Nexmo are excited to help you on that journey.