Has digital transformation failed consumers?

Good morning! Nothing should help improve the customer experience more than digital transformation. But as it turns out, the “magical software fix” didn’t really fix much at all.

Consumers are not reaping the digital benefits

Even before the pandemic, two words seemed to dominate the vocabulary of every executive in corporate America: digital transformation.

It is inevitable. Suddenly, almost three decades after the advent of the internet and more than a decade since the release of the first iPhone, companies seem to realize the power of technology. And with artificial intelligence, two equally silly words that are now impossible to avoid, companies can use mountains of consumer data to make sure they don’t miss a sale, fumble a customer service call or encounter a blip in the supply chain.

So what do billions of dollars in IT investments mean for consumers? This is a tricky question to answer, as many of the current changes, apart from the massive proliferation of apps, are probably invisible to the end consumer. And many investments are focused on internal improvements that may reduce operating costs but do nothing to improve customer interactions.

With overall customer satisfaction down to its lowest level since 2005 and employee productivity levels actually slowing down, it’s clear that aspects of that change have been overhyped both by businesses that want to impress customers and vendors that Eager to sell companies on new tools to strengthen the annual contract dimensions.

  • Of course, there are factors outside a company’s control: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the pandemic, rising inflation and a turbulent labor market, for example.
  • All of that can affect businesses’ ability to collect the right data to use AI to guide inventory management or find the staff needed to run key operations.
  • And as the likes of Amazon and Walmart grow and outpace competitors, it becomes impossible for consumers not to expect the same level of experience at every other business.

But all promised IT investments should at least position businesses to better respond to market-changing circumstances. Instead, companies have no idea what consumers want. And this has paved the way for a new cycle of vendors all promising a magic software fix.

However, improving the customer experience requires businesses to actually put an investment into it, not just giving lip service. And for some industries, especially those with few competitors, it may not be worth it.

Airlines are not alone. Customer service across corporate America, in general, is still terrible and may actually be getting worse. (However, it’s worth noting that support workers are also subject to increasing unfair abuse from customers, which is ridiculous.)

  • Of course, software vendors have spent the last decade hawking tools like chatbots that, despite lofty promises, completely fail to handle all “simple” customer questions.
  • The system has failed so badly that it is not unusual for a company’s customer service line to direct you to the website, only for the website to direct you to the customer service line.
  • And it’s always just one fix away. Even now, with all the investments to date, vendors like UiPath, which is trying to sell its own automation software, believes that companies “still don’t have the ability to see what people are talking about people, and how to understand that and act on it. quickly.”

It is still early in the journey for most large enterprises to become “tech-driven,” which helps explain why the results have been lackluster.

  • These are very difficult migrations. And companies simultaneously face a weakening economy, damaged supply chains and ever-worsening global relations.
  • But the never-ending cascade of socially transformative events is not slowing down. And that means businesses have to learn to adapt more quickly. If done thoughtfully, tech can play an important role.

As access to software becomes more democratized with the rise of the cloud, the expectation is that customer experience will finally begin to serve as a key differentiator. If that’s the case, what do you do with all your extra time?


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