Why 2019 is the Year to Embrace Digital Customer Service Channels (and How You can Get the Budget to Make It Happen)

Digital transformation is more than just optimizing your existing modus operandi with new technology and tools – it’s about creating a sweeping change in the way that you do business. As technology has become omnipresent in consumers’ day to day lives, the way they interact with businesses needs to change to keep up. Companies that are able to embrace this transformation open up new revenue opportunities, have the chance to become first-to-market on new service niches and will massively out-shine their competitors.

For example, the financial industry used to depend on phone calls and in-person visits to your local advisors. Today, new financial products like Nutmeg and WealthSimple are making it easy for customers to talk with their financial team as easily as they talk with their friends and family through conversational platforms. Traditional companies could take their considerable consumer trust and expertise and outcompete these new players – if only they can first navigate a digital transformation.

The Time to Invest in Digital Transformation is Now

The time is ripe for companies to invest in a digital strategy. IDC estimates that digital transformation could drive up to $18 trillion in additional revenue. Shouldn’t your company get a slice of that pie? Gartner suggests that the benefits are more wide-ranging than pure revenue generation. 40% of companies say that they are moving to a modern digital strategy to empower their staff with better tools, and 39% are excited about the cost-saving benefits. We’re at a crossroads where the tools are advanced enough to provide dramatic benefits, but accessible enough to be easily implemented into more businesses’ strategy.

But making the case to your executive team to spend the money and time “reinventing the wheel” as it might seem can be an uphill battle. In fact, a lack of buy-in from senior leadership is one of the main reasons Capgemini gives for the failure of so many attempts at transformation. Without the resources, it’s impossible to drive the change you want.

There are three key strategies for getting buy-in from your management team:

– Make a persuasive argument
– Get your numbers together
– Use the momentum of success

Let’s look at how each of these strategies contributes to securing the budget you need to overhaul your customer service delivery with a digital transformation.

Make a Persuasive Argument

Have you ever tried to win an argument on the sheer strength of logic alone? It likely didn’t go very well. Hard facts aren’t very persuasive, even to the most data-driven of executives.

Instead of starting with numbers, start by understanding the motivations behind each of the individuals on your executive team. Are they driven solely by profit? They likely each have their own passion projects that point to their underlying motivations.

For example, one executive might always be looking to your competitors for inspiration. Will your new project elevate your services over their biggest enemy? Another executive might feel strongly moved by individual customer stories – make sure to load up your argument with qualitative evidence in support of your initiative. Yet another might be driven by creating a positive workplace culture. Can you show how digital transformation will improve the lives of employees as well as the lives of customers?

Combining logic with emotional appeals makes your argument stronger and more persuasive. Just be sure to personalize your pitch for each stakeholder for maximum benefit.

Get Your Numbers Together

Money is at the root of all business. Without making a profit, businesses would fail to survive. This is true even on investments in customer service, so as leaders we need to be sure that the money we invest in new projects will bring in a profit. Even if a new initiative is “the right thing to do”, we still need to prove the financial feasibility.

To calculate the expected financial benefit from your digital transformation proposal, look at every impact it might have both in cost saving and revenue making. For example:

– Identify common reasons customers churn. Will any of these be abated by moving towards a digital-first service strategy?

– Can you charge more for new services or offerings? Could you deliver a brand new value-adding service to customers after digital transformation?

– How much more effective will your customer support team become? If customers are able to find information online before calling your call center, how many fewer agents need to be hired?

Calculate the total cost of the investment needed to complete the project, and how long it will take your company to break even after investment. Is all the cost required up front, or is it a month by month increase in operating cost? If executives can see where they start to turn a profit on a new initiative, it makes it much more appealing to invest now.

If you need to make assumptions, be sure to use a conservative number that no one would disagree with. While pie-in-the-sky estimates might sound more attractive, they also decrease the credibility of your proposal.

Use the Momentum of Success

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sometimes a complete digital transformation might seem like an unachievable goal, with a cost that’s far too high for something unproven. Instead of shooting for the moon, especially with a hesitant management team, start smaller and build momentum over time.

Try breaking your project down into stages. For each stage, track metrics religiously so that you can show the impact of any actions taken. Use the success of the first stage to drive momentum for increasing the budget and the resources available. It might even be possible to make changes with no additional budget at all – start there. If you can show that a small amount of change already made a big difference through success stories and metrics, it’s much easier to convince the doubters.

As you continue to make changes and move towards a complete digital transformation, you’ll reach critical mass and everyone will be forced to get onboard.

Conclusion

Getting everyone on board – especially those that hold the key to the vault – can be really difficult when it comes to proposing a digital transformation. But it’s worth the struggle to push through resistance, secure the budget and make a dramatic change in your service delivery strategy.

Customers will be happier with more modern service, your agents will be happier and more empowered to help customers and your business will see new streams of revenue open up that traditional businesses can’t capture.  

When putting together a persuasive proposal, remember to combine logic with emotions (but don’t oversell!), have a good understanding of the financial implications and to start by picking the battles you can win. By initiating momentum, you’ll win over the hearts and wallets of your executive team in no time.