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9 mindset steps in the digital transformation journey

Exploring nine points along the transformation timeline, from first understanding what it means to your business, to finally judging whether it’s been a success.

1) What is a digital transformation about?

I’ve been involved in transformations with all different names over the years – IT transformation, IT-based cultural change, digital transformation, customer transformation… the fact is, whether you call it digital or not, this is about a step change in organisational performance.

Digitisation should be about optimising (and automating where possible) the end-to-end process across all parts of the business, so removing non-value-added work. That might involve providing better information, advice and guidance so people don’t have to call in the first place. It might be about routing those calls more efficiently to the right people, with the right skills, at the right time; or it might be about automating enquiries into back end systems faster.

But, whichever way, it’s not just about the call centre or IT.

It’s about really transforming the business and the customer journey end to end – how customers come through the web site to the contact centre, through the workflow, through the platforms, and eventually through the financial processing.

2) When doesn’t it work?

Often it doesn’t work when an organisation appoints a chief digital officer or a chief transformation officer, then says, ‘OK, our job here is done’. The board relegates that responsibility to the new appointment, forgetting, of course, that the changes to the business processes, the people and the technology are all happening in each of the other executives’ business areas.

The ones that succeed are where the CEO and executive committee take responsibility and have an active involvement. Then your transformation person becomes the facilitator, ensuring the right controls and disciplines are in place, and the right partners brought to bear.

3) What mindset does an executive committee need to make such a transformation successful?

There are two, really. The first is recognising that they are going to be making a lot of decisions and investing a lot of effort in driving large-scale change throughout their organisation, in many areas, all at once. That will need to be complemented by cultural change, new skills, new disciplines and new partners.

The second is really thinking about the amazing disruptive digital technology that’s out there, and how it’s changing the world. When it comes to the art of the possible, the bar has been significantly raised and it’s very hard to see that unless you have some idea of what those possibilities are.

4) Where do you start?

We tend to start by leveraging the assets that are already in place, in order to drive out cost. Then, once you begin to understand how to mobilise and drive the organisation to perform at scale – and that’s not just the technology but also the people and the processes – you can take on a more ambitious slice of service redesign.

But, if you are going to materially impact the customer service of an organisation, you can’t just transform the contact centre. When you think about the end customer journey – whether that’s someone booking a flight or reporting a missed bin collection – that experience for the customer is impacted from everywhere – from the website, the contact centre, the back office, the finance systems, logistics…

No part of the business should be excluded, otherwise you haven’t made the customer’s experience frictionless across the entire organisation.

5) What helps a digital transformation gain momentum?

The reasons successful transformations gain momentum are not because of some new tool or piece of technology. They do it because you’ve worked in a smart, agile way and quickly delivered something that is ‘wow’ for the customer. People see that and start to think differently, become more responsive to customer needs and better at implementing change.

6) What does Capita bring to projects like these?

At its heart, Capita understands how to run operations within an organisation. Importantly we’ve done lots of our own transformations where we’ve taken on a lot of people and had to go through very rapid transitions to improve efficiencies. That’s our core proposition. We’ve done this before, in our own business. It’s deep, pragmatic experience – it’s not just a PowerPoint!

7) What surprises organisations when they find themselves in the middle of transformation journey?

I think they are often surprised at the pace their organisation can move when it’s set up the right way, and when you introduce new skills.

They’re also often surprised at how little they understand of the workload that’s either coming into, or being produced within, their organisation. I’ve been surprised myself sometimes, especially realising how much of the work is because a process has failed and needs to be chased up or re-done. But that’s the power of data within a digital transformation, really being able to measure everything and getting this amazing transparency.

8) How do you measure success?

You need one or two very clear metrics of success. Are we about improving customer service and reducing costs? Or increasing revenue? Or reducing turnaround time? Be really crystal clear what that metric is.

In IT transformations of old, you’d have to wait two years until it was all in, and people were retrained and using it, before you could see if it worked. By which time, by the way, the business was likely to have changed immensely so how could you even tell?

However, when you start doing individual customer journeys as part of a digital transformation, you can measure everything. So, in the programs we’ve done, we’ve known the benefits at each stage before and after implementation.

The answer is you don’t have to wait two years. The good transformations are the ones where you can measure the benefits at every stage and you know, straight away, if it’s working, every time a solution goes live.

9) What’s the big opportunity for customer service in a digital transformation?

I think it’s about getting organisations to think more broadly about delivering their end customer services. It’s not just about having the most efficient contact centre; it’s about having the most efficient end-to-end processes, making it frictionless for the customer, and therefore reducing the workload coming in and handling it in the most efficient way. That’s the potential of a really powerful digital transformation.

First published by Capita Customer Management.

Photo of Peter J Reynolds

Peter J Reynolds

Digital transformation director, Capita

Peter has over 20 years’ experience delivering large scale digital programmes across local government, central government and financial services. He recently led the Southampton Digital Transformation Programme which was awarded the 'Best Digital and Technology Project' across public and private sector in the UK by the Management Consultancies Association for 2017, and 'Best Use of Agile' in the public sector 2016.

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