Going Digital: Leveraging physical & digital channels together

The following is a short exploration of creating a new reality for customers by merging physical and digital experiences

Apps, smartphones, tablets. These are some of the most talked about devices in technology and some of the most talked about things in each of our lives. This is an interesting trend. Looking back to the online boom in the 90's things were not the same. These devices were prominent and important but much more important to the technology industry than the average consumer.

The world is changing and we have long ago “crossed the chasm” to widespread adoption of technology in everyday life. In fact today a good number of us interact with technology hour by hour or even minute by minute. The devices have become a platform through which we not only accomplish things but interact with our ongoing lives. The digital approach will continue to play a greater role.

Digging into one specific aspect, what could the future look like for a traditional multi-channel company, as the digital trend continues?

Where we are today

We are at the top of a strong trend. Several generations have grown up with this technology as a given in their lives. We now face two issues: 1) Younger generations have grown up with a new reality and have different expectations 2) Older generations contain fewer willing adopters who have not already embraced the technology.

For a company, these pose an important choice, how do we proceed forward? How do we engage across these two very different sets of consumer preferences while still keeping up with the middle generations? The answer involves a number of different components, but overall deep digital experiences leverage existing distribution channels.

What role does a traditional physical channel play?

Physical channels can and should play a role in activating and supporting your digital channels, but they can also go much further. Merge digital and physical channels. Why do customers and employees work in different worlds? An employee should be able to seamlessly transition with the customer between their device and the customers. When we talk about creating a unified experience, shouldn’t that be part of it?

Moving from transactions to experiences

Any single touchpoint (even one with multiple steps) is still a transaction for the customer. Digital capabilities have the ability to create deep value through creating a truly customer-centric experience, throughout the lifetime of the customer.

This next step of providing service & sales in the digital channel from you physical locations is transformational but underneath it is revolutionary.

Three things that need to be identified before your embark on the journey

  1. How does this create value?
  2. How will the vision be executed?
  3. What capabilities need to be built throughout this journey?

In is important to take these planning steps before starting. Once the three questions have been answered, start small and learn from each initiative. As capabilities are built and tested, this will be instrumental in learning for future digital capabilities.

Moving towards an integrated physical and digital experience, whether that is merging digital with physical retail, over the phone or other means of interaction is extremely important. This multichannel journey can lead to a full customer-centric, “omni-channel” capability.

In taking these steps, both the younger and older generations will be served, with one overall solution. Each will receive a lasting benefit by expanding both the digital experience of customers who prefer traditional channels and vice versa.

I would love to discuss your ideas and these ideas here. I hope you have found this quick article thought provoking. More to come!