With budget season upon us, digital tools sit on top of most wish lists. Over the past 18 months executives moved quickly to launch digital tools and technologies out of necessity. Now they have a chance to step back and deliberately plan their next steps for how digital technology can further evolve how they conduct business and interact with customers in 2022.
An organization’s success going forward will depend on the ability to be nimble and flexible to react quickly, but also to proactively lead the business in new directions. Digital tools can help, but first it’s important to see how they fit into the bigger strategic picture.
McKinsey recently published a list of CEO priorities in the “new normal” that serve as aspirational trends to guide decision-making and budget planning in 2022 and beyond. They include:
1: Center strategy on sustainability
2: Transform in the cloud
3: Cultivate your talent
4: Press the need for speed
5: Operate with purpose
What’s notable about the list is that each priority’s core objective is to strengthen a brand’s position in ways that create “happy” customers and employees. More than just goodwill, providing customers and employees with reasons to feel valued and proud of the brand is smart business. From reducing carbon emissions at global facilities and developing attractive long-term career paths to taking a stand on social issues or removing friction from individual customer experiences, successful organizations will find themselves creating a supportive, seamless environment that competitors will find hard to replicate.
Results of such initiatives are revenue growth and market strength in the form of lower costs-to-serve, higher customer loyalty, operational efficiencies, employee engagement, and a unique value proposition.
While not explicitly steeped in technology, each CEO priority can be achieved with digital tools and related services to support valuable and authentic customer and employee experiences. So for 2022’s budget planning, here’s a checklist of key customer-focused, digital-first investments not to miss:
Cloud computing is on its way to being a $1 trillion sector by 2030. With so much potential, it can be daunting to figure out what aspects of your business to move to the cloud. One area to explore is using cloud technology to enable an omnichannel customer experience platform –where customers can contact a brand on any channel and move across each one seamlessly to resolve issues and conduct business in ways that work for them.
There’s a lot to like about a cloud-based omnichannel environment: It’s flexible. It can support customers from virtually anywhere, utilizing work-from-home employees who can be staffed up or down as needed. Updates to systems and the knowledgebase can happen in real time. And it costs less than on-premise, legacy customer infrastructure.
2022 budget planning tip: A cloud omnichannel CX platform shifts investment from capital expenditures (CapEx) to operating expenditures (OpEx), adding more predictability to long-term spending and reducing hardware costs and depreciation.
Intelligent automation combines the speed and accuracy of automated bots with humans to oversee and continuously improve the experience all along the customer journey. Done well, it drives down service costs by empowering customer self-service and augmenting the employee experience.
An intelligent automation program can lead to triple-digit ROI, happier employees, and more satisfied customers. And implementations can be done within weeks, rather than large-scale drawn-out technology projects.
2022 budget planning tip: Look for quick wins to improve the customer experience, such as by deploying automated chatbots for common simple requests or by speeding up back-office processes. Rapid launches with immediate results will build momentum and encourage the organization to keep moving forward.
Digital employee development
In the age of the Great Resignation, finding and keeping motivated, talented employees is a challenge. Going beyond virtual happy hours or company swag to build a strong culture, technology can enhance employee onboarding and advance career development so employees feel a valued part of the business.
Why not leverage the same customer-facing bot technology that wows customers to create an engaging employee experience? Automated digital assistants can advise managers during the recruitment process and onboard new hires through interactive digital training. Once hired, AI-enabled, self-directed gamified learning programs give employees control over the pace and depth of their training sessions, complete with real-time coaching and metrics.
2022 budget planning tip: Get more out of your virtual training investment by using technology in new ways, like practicing difficult conversations and navigating sensitive topics and social issues in the workplace.
These are just a few CX-related resources within your reach to accelerate digital transformation and support CEO priorities in 2022. Just remember that CX investments should be purposeful and transformative, not a fad or way to keep up with what’s cool. Questions that a brand should ask before diving into new digital investments should be focused on what the goals are– are they to grow their business, improve customer experiences, or compete in a new industry? Most importantly, answer “why” and “how.” Why is this impactful to the business, and how does it align to CEO priorities?
Remember that during budget season or any time of year, investing in your customers and employees is money well spent, every time.