Nowadays, if you need to send someone money, you can do so almost instantaneously via a bank transfer. If you would like to make a table reservation for dinner, it can be done online via a restaurant’s website in seconds. And if you want to make an agreement with someone, you can sign and send a contract 100 per cent digitally. In fact, as consumers, digital processes like these have rapidly become an essential part of our everyday lives.
So much so, in fact, that being able to interact with businesses digitally has shifted from being viewed as a ‘nice to have’ option to an essential requirement. Recent research from DocuSign shows that 88 per cent of consumers now expect to be able to do business digitally, and it would seem that business leaders agree with them – 61 per cent of C-level business executives also see digital business as a ‘must have’.
However, this should not come as much of a surprise. All senior business executives are of course consumers in their personal lives. As such, it stands to reason that their digital expectations as consumers will influence their professional lives. Despite this groundswell of opinion however, these expectations are not being met in a significant number of instances – 92 per cent of executives admit that their businesses could be doing more to go digital.
Expectation vs reality
So, given that the demand for digital not only exists, but is clearly recognised and supported by senior business leaders, why is there such a significant gap between what people expect and what many businesses are currently delivering?
First and foremost, it is much easier for an individual to take on a new digital way of life, than it is for an entire organisation to keep the pace. Businesses that want to go digital often have to negotiate a multitude of obstacles, and must successfully coordinate a range of moving parts. For instance, only 29 per cent of business leaders have overseen a digital project that hasn’t been restricted by another department within their organisation. But despite the challenges involved, digital transformation is absolutely essential for any modern business that wishes to stay competitive. Ignoring it risks losing relevance or missing out to other companies in the market – 57 per cent of consumers have stated that they would choose to interact with companies that offer digital methods of completing transactions over those that stick to dated, paper-based processes.
Deconstructing the customer journey
In order for businesses to identify how best to improve their digital offering, they must first examine the reasoning behind people’s digital preferences. For instance, the speed and convenience that a digital process offers over a ‘legacy’ procedure is often a key factor in its popularity, so organisations should identify areas of the customer experience that cause delays and slow progress. They should then find and implement a solution that fixes the issue and speeds the process up.
To highlight an example, two in five consumers have had a document lost in the post in the past year. This resulted in 62 per cent of consumers not feeling comfortable sending important or sensitive paper documents that way. Through the roll-out of a digital process that renders the manual posting of documents unnecessary, businesses can circumvent this issue and make their customers’ lives easier.
This methodology applies across the board – organisations must analyse the customer journey and use digital tools and services to smooth out any bumps in the road. In the unlikely event that there is no digital tool available to fix a particular issue, then companies can create their own. Applications Programming Interfaces (APIs) offered by digital service providers allow businesses to develop custom software solutions that are tailored to their specific business needs.
With digital tools on board, companies can keep customers happy, save money on legacy processes, and conduct business in the way that both their customers and colleagues demand. It is not so much a choice as a necessity.
Helen Sutton is VP Enterprise for Northern Europe at DocuSign.