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How do you design your company for a digital first world?

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My new friend Roy Edwards at Enterprise Times in the UK recently published a story on Salesforce’s, “State of the Connected Customer” report. We spent time discussing the research, which spotlights just how much customers have evolved in the past few years.

Key themes include…

  1. The Trust-based economy moves to the forefront
  2. Digital acceleration sparks personalisation at scale
  3. New realities test brand loyalty (loyalty is up for grabs and retention becomes mission critical)
  4. Digital-first experiences expand to meet the moment

Following the conversation, Roy shared a few follow-up questions. That part of the conversation didn’t end up making into an article, but I was encouraged to share the discussion with you.

I hope it helps.

Q1: What are the top consumer behaviours that brands need to take note of now in order to survive and compete?

The goal is to have the answer to this question, in every function, and eventually cross-functionally, to create a platform that delivers a real-time, single-view of the customer and makes it possible to deliver a single customer experience, no matter where they are in the journey. Connected customers expect personalized, best-in-class experiences. As we found in our latest Salesforce “State of the Connected Customer[LINK]” research, 88% of business customers and consumers say that the experience your company provides is as important as your products and services. This is up from 80% in the prior report. Our research also found that they expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations and even anticipate them. They want to feel an emotion connection to their favorite brands. And they want offers and engagement to always be personalized.

I think this is an important CTRL-ALT-DEL moment for businesses. It isn’t just about competing and surviving. It’s about turning disruption into an opportunity to be and do better, to build more meaningful relationships, a drive growth by putting people and experiences at the center of transformation. One important expectation that surfaced in our research really hits home when it comes to customer experiences and relationships, they told us that most companies “treat them as a number.”

We need to do more.

Q2: How do you design for a digital first world?

I recently had the opportunity to lead our Salesforce research partnership with Harvard Business Review Analytical Services for an important report on CX, “Making Customer Experience the Heart of the Enterprise.” One of the top findings that inspired the direction of the report was that more than half of executive respondents put CX in their top-five business priorities.

In the report, we learned that best-in-class CX has two sides, 1) insights, and 2) engagement. Designing for a digital first world means that we have to organize around a platform where customer data converts into real-time insights and actionable engagement in every state of the customer journey, i.e. discovery, marketing, sales/commerce, service and support, and loyalty. Companies also need to reimagine operational models to support integrated customer insights and engagement. Yet, we found that only 16% of companies report that they have a single 360-degree view of customer data but lack the organizational structure to make use of those insights.

There’s work to be done.

This is where the future of digital-first business design begins. We have to find opportunities to let go of industrial era designs, models, and mind-sets to write the new business leadership playbook for a digital-first era.

It takes courage to break the status quo and end business as usual, finally. It also takes an open, curious mind to become fascinated by innovation and visualize what “great can look like,” to do unprecedented things that create new value.

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