In this article we make visible the focus by McKinsey on what we’ve learned in building this operating model and the four success factors that are key to delivering superior digital experiences, as well as the challenges that companies across industries face in efforts to secure them
The success factors are as follows:
- Designing and digitizing the customer journey
- Increasing speed and agility in insight generation
- Achieving customer adoption of the digital customer journey
- Developing agility in delivering journey transformations
It is no surprise that a lot of digital journey transformations struggle to succeed, considering that running a digital customer-experience transformation is a complex, multidimensional task. It requires a combination of traditional transformation elements—such as rigorous, top-management commitment and steering—and cross-functional teamwork, as well as more digital elements, including agile delivery of technology, along all-journey transformation phases. That said, the effort can pay off handsomely; in our work we regularly observe up to 15 percent revenue increases and simultaneous reductions in cost to serve of more than 20 percent.
Customer-centric design of customer journeys
A key to offering an outstanding digital customer experience is creating a radical design (or redesign) of journeys to be improved. What we have found to work extremely well is to apply design-thinking methodologies and to conduct a design boot camp. Such a starting point is also how to best begin the process of developing an agile digital delivery system within a cross-functional team.
In this process, the primary goal is to thoroughly rethink the way the journey works, instead of simply fixing inefficiencies along the way. The customer and his or her needs and preferences is both the starting point as well as the ongoing proof point for the work, meaning that new designs are immediately tested and iterated based on customer feedback. Within such redesign workshops, it helps to render the customer journey in a clickable prototype in order to obtain a more concrete look and feel of the actual customer experience, which can then be continuously tested with customers. Overall, the approach must, however, allow for seamless integration with existing channels, including non-digital journeys. Furthermore, legacy processes, which become redundant as a result of the new journey, should still be run in parallel until the new journey is fully operational.
One promising approach is what we call zero-based journey redesign, or designing a customer journey from scratch, without any preconception of the ultimate vision for the journey—rather than simply improving the status quo. One ambitious redesign of the instant account-opening process at a large bank eliminated 15 process steps (including significant paperwork), introduced an instant identification system (via passport and face-recognition software), and established a completely new online and mobile (and in-branch self-service) journey enabling account opening anytime and anywhere. With the inclusion of the in-branch self-service customer journey, the effort boosted self-service sales from zero to more than a third of total sales, with 50 percent higher conversion rates and a reduction in cycle time to ten minutes, compared with between two and six days previously.
Similarly, a redesign of the customer-relocation journey for a large, multinational energy company introduced an approach to automated communication that reduced process steps for customers by half and accelerated processing time by 80 percent, while also making it easy for customers to move their accounts at any time during or after their relocation, via a range of devices. These changes decreased cost to serve by 40 percent and tripled the retention rate of relocating customers. By embedding design thinking in the organization, management was also able to form a new vision of how customers could experience their redesigned services in the future for a broad range of customer journeys.
Increasing speed and agility in generating insights
Digitization and the fast pace of changing market and consumer dynamics require fast, frictionless ‘real time’ insights into a multitude of different areas for decision making, specifically customer-journey management and design.
However, traditional market-research approaches are often not in line with these requirements—they take too long to be generated and don’t enable iterative step-by-step building of new experiences integrating constant customer feedback. Thus, customer-experience leaders need to find ways to be agile in generating insights, for example, by employing much more flexible and dynamic research approaches. Among these are mobile flash surveys and online focus groups, as well as the integration of these insights directly into the customer-experience design and redesign process.
Generating insights in an ‘agile’ way in a digital-customer-experience transformation can start with conducting an in-depth user-experience assessment of current customer touchpoints, such as web properties, devices, call centers, and branches. These can then be compared with competitors. By combining this exercise with the zero-based approach to rethinking the customer journey, it is possible to generate valuable insights as to the strengths and weaknesses of the digital customer-experience design.
During the journey design process, agile insights can then be used to rapidly test new ideas and journey steps with customers, with more scale than traditional focus groups. For example, it is possible to use an online focus group with a carefully selected target audience or live video chats with customers sitting at home testing out a new digital process on screen to provide immediate insights that can help to fine-tune key journey steps. One large European energy player used customer-experience-measurement software to integrate input from text messages, web, and email surveys. One large insurer created digital ‘diaries’ to better understand customer pain points.
Achieving customer adoption of digital customer journeys
The awareness of how to build effective digital channels has risen significantly in recent years. However, a typical pitfall we observe is that many projects falter because not enough thinking goes into actively stimulating customer adoption. There are a number of reasons why customers fail to adopt digital channels. In some cases they are related to sales barriers, such as a preference for in-person contact, the speed with which a product is delivered, or e-care challenges, including a lack of personalized experience. Consequently, customers don’t embrace digital self-service channels to the degree desired, limiting efficiency gains and cost savings. Thus, orchestrating and stimulating digital customer adoption thoroughly is a key success factor.
In our experience, there is no ‘silver bullet’ to stimulate customer adoption of digital journeys. Rather, the answer lies in pulling a combination of different levers and iterating approaches based on customer testing. Broad strategies, each with their own tactics, include informing the customer, making the customer journey relevant to the customer, and guiding him or her to engage:
- Informing the customer
- Making the digital journey relevant
- Guiding the customer
To encourage customer adoption of digital journeys, it is critical to not simply rely on the quality of the channel but to find a suitable, individual solution using multiple levers to drive adoption. Furthermore, it is essential to achieve internal alignment in the organization across channel and business-unit leadership. Conflicts that arise among leaders on strategy, targets, incentives, and mind-sets can be highly disruptive.