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Driving Customer & Employee Digital Adoption

Josh Martin

Operators want to make a digital transformation and they need customers and employees to come along for the ride. In our "Kickstarting Digital Transformation" article, we discussed why "If you build it, they will come" approaches won't suffice. Essentially, learned behaviors are ingrained. So employees must be retaught how to serve customers in a digital world. Customers need to be retaught how to reach out to their providers. (See Kickstarting Digital Transformation.)

To maximize the benefits from digital experiences, operators must make a concerted effort to drive employee and customer adoption of new digital solutions. When defining these adoption programs, IBB recommends four key areas of focus:

  • Empower employees to become digital stewards by arming them with the right training and tool sets;
  • Anticipate employee resistance and setbacks by proactively managing risks;
  • Implement targeted tactics for customers to shift them towards digital experiences; and
  • Navigate the challenges of shifting customer behaviors from segmentation through measurement.

    Empowering employees
    IBB has observed that employees are generally excited about digital tools and capabilities because these tools tend to make day-to-day tasks easier. As simpler transactions are shifted from analog to digital, more time is freed up for employees to focus on meaningful transactions for customers. While there are multiple tactical areas for shifting employee behaviors towards digital, three important elements are internal communications, training and tool sets, and transformative operations.

      Internal communications: Precisely how a digital transformation is communicated to employees can maximize program success and proactively address doubts. We have seen success with a cascade messaging approach, where upper management levels introduce a program strategy, with the operational approach messaging filtered down through each level until the principles reach frontline employees. To truly resonate, there must be a steady stream of messaging that keeps key points top of mind and highlights benefits by answering the "what's in it for me?" and "what's in it for the customer?" questions.

      Training and tool sets: When building digital experiences, training and tools must be developed to guide employees on how to leverage the new technologies and effectively communicate new experiences to customers. Rather than simply developing "how-to" videos, it can be more effective to create interactive module lessons with contextual scenarios that showcase effective messaging for helping customers convert to a digital mindset.

      Transformative operations: Beyond such suggestive approaches as communications and training, MVPDs can make a major impact by undertaking transformative changes to operations. HR can change compensation models by rewarding frontline agents for digital actions the same way they do for line-of-business upgrades (e.g., agent earns financial reward for getting customer to sign up for autopay), while technology can embed digital functionality into frontline tools (e.g., retail reps can use the store's point-of-sale system to text a link to a customer's online account).

    Anticipating employee resistance and setbacks
    While there are many positives that come from empowering employees through digital, there are also risk considerations that demand a focus on change management during the transformation.

    Typically, the initial concerns of frontline employees are centered around whether or not they are going to lose their jobs. It is important to address these tough questions quickly and explicitly. In the long run, a goal of a digital transformation may be to transform the workforce operating model, but there are multiple ways to carry out changes without hefty workforce reductions. These include shifting the employee-to-contractor ratio, reducing new hires while attrition takes course, and re-training employees to fill positions in other areas of the business.

    No one-size-fits-all for transitioning customers to digital
    Customers generally prefer to interact with companies in a seamless omni-channel way that's straightforward and consistent. Once those options are available, MVPDs can leverage customer segmentation, marketing tests and incentives to start migrating customers towards digital solutions.

      Customer segmentation: A targeted customer communications strategy is key. MVPDs can take both call and self-serve behavior data and overlay it with other customer data such as demographics, products and usage to split customers into different groups. The marketing team can then prioritize segments based on digital-likelihood and ROI to tailor communication that gives the best “nudge” to digital and knows when to stop the messaging.

      Marketing tests: Once the data is organized, the MVPD can take a rapid and iterative "test and learn" approach to converting customers to digital. Test grids can help lay out marketing tactics, timing, location and segments, while A/B testing and measurement allows the organization to quickly see what is and isn't working, and optimize accordingly. Over time, the marketing test, measurement and optimization cycle can be automated to maximize marketing efficiency.

      Incentivization: Another way to drive customer behavior changes is rewarding the customer with a benefit for a selected digital behavior. For example, MVPDs can run a campaign offering a VoD redemption code for any customers who sign up for paperless billing. In this instance, customers get the upfront benefit while the MVPD realizes future cost savings and increased digital engagement.

    Challenges with shifting customer behaviors
    In general, customers have learned to call an operator first when issues arise. So shifting customer behaviors towards digital can be a complex task, with a number of challenges that should be taken into account.

    With customer segmentation and marketing tests, detail is key. However, it can be difficult to achieve the level of granularity needed for effectiveness. Even with sufficient data models in place, it can be challenging to parse which customers are most likely to go digital and which will end up being "digital nevers." In addition, rapid and iterative "test and learn" marketing can be difficult to manage because the analytics and marketing organizations need to work closely and adapt quickly. Finally, overall tracking and measurement to determine which customers migrated to digital and which tactics provided that "nudge" can be challenging.

    Assembling the pieces of a successful digital transformation
    This four-part digital transformation article series explored key considerations that MVPDs should focus on when planning a digital transformation, including timing, preparation, technology considerations and impacts, and the art of shifting employees and customers to digital mindsets. (See Laying the Tech Foundation for Digital Transformation and Embracing the Digital Revolution.)

    There will be plenty more to say on the topic as operators move forward with digital transformations and require deep dives into key challenges and opportunities along the way. For now, establishing a digital transformation vision is an important first step that will help ensure MVPDs are ready for continuing industry shifts.

    — Josh Martin, Managing Consultant, IBB Consulting Group

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    A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

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