Are your digital projects dangerous?
It started out as a beautiful early September Sunday morning where I left home for a long bike ride, eager to check out the new expanded bike lane that had just been added north of our place. Halfway through the ride the weather quickly turned, and I went from riding in full sunshine to racing home through a torrential downpour.
I pedaled hard through the rain and made good time until I came upon a sudden end to the new cycling lane that funneled me directly into rough, poorly angled railroad tracks. Being forced off the road by the ending lane and busy traffic, I had little choice but to veer into the tracks where my wheel got caught, pitching me onto the shoulder for a long 25 foot slide.
It took me 2 full months to recover from the fall - and that railroad has since become well known in the local biking community as a fall hazard. Signs have been installed to warn cyclists to dismount before the bike lanes ends to avoid the tracks - but I've often wondered why the engineers who worked on the project would build a crossing where the tracks crossed the road at such an awkward angle, and why they would built a new bike lane that ended so abruptly?
It occurred to me that the engineers were faced with the same challenge as many of our customers - that of updating legacy systems. The railroad in this case is a legacy technology - originally built in 1882 and updated over the years, it was never designed to be integrated into a modern multi-lane road with wide bicycle lanes. Re-routing the track and putting in new gates would have been expensive and difficult - so instead, the workers attempted to make the new technology accommodate the old - completely eliminating the effectiveness of the bicycle lanes.
In fact, difficulties integrating legacy systems with new tools and technology was recently found to be the #1 cause of internal barriers to driving digital transformation by eMarketer.
It is no wonder then that many companies approach customer communications with a twofold strategy. Instead of looking to integrate older legacy systems and print communications with new digital channels, organizations are instead choosing to run parallel systems, or worse - are limiting the capabilities of their new digital solutions by choosing not to update their legacy technology. This approach often leaves their customers stranded when attempting to move between traditional and emerging digital channels.
A recent report from Forrester entitled "Customers Prefer Hybrid Digital/Physical Experiences" indicates just how important it is to offer an experience to customers that supports both print and digital channels. Their research reveals that companies who choose a digital only approach to instituting new customer experiences may fail in their approach, and that thoughtful firms "will leverage the expertise of services firms that specialize in hybrid, invest in technologies that will one day offer the emotional advantages of physical CX at a digital price, and restructure away from channel silos."
A complimentary copy of the report is available here:
At Quadient, we continue to help companies transition to digital by starting with their most difficult to handle processes - print based communications and integration with legacy systems - and modernize those systems to enable true hybrid communications across the entire customer journey.
Like my cycling experience, it's important to choose a platform that offers the right channels for customers at various points along their journey, which in my case was represented by a smoothly paved bike lane. But your system also needs to provide solid points of intersection between the channels that your customers will travel along as they complete their customer journey - so that they aren't surprised by a sudden end to their journey that leaves them in a heap by the side of the road.
Does your digital customer communications solution keep the entire customer journey in mind?