Customer-centric digital transformations to win out in new normal

27 May 2021 4 min. read
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A handful of forward-looking companies actually thrived during the pandemic – winning new customers and boosting revenues. PwC has taken a closer look at the ‘magic formula’ of these businesses. 

PwC surveyed more than 500 European businesses across two periods – covering both ‘waves’ of the Covid-19 infection in the continent. In focus was performance amid unprecedented disruption, and a clear set of ‘winners’ emerged – growing and meeting their objectives while all else was faltering. 

A look behind the scenes revealed a pair of common practices across these winning organisations – customer-centricity and digital transformation. “In short, the companies most likely to be winning in the new normal are those that are placing the customer at the centre of their transformation, and enabling a digital or virtual experience through technology,” noted Carl Haynie, PwC’s Switzerland-based COO for customer transformation across EMEA. 

Knowing your customer and responding to their evolving needs is considered critical to inform successful transformation

“They’re going beyond brand repositioning to enhance and deliver a greater customer journey, and the internal processes that are impacted. They’re prioritising more agile ways of working, growing revenues and increasing efficiencies.” 

And their growth channels are transforming too. “They’re looking to grow through greater customer loyalty, better productivity, and more engaged workforces,” continued Haynie. Backing this up, nearly 50% of the 500 businesses surveyed said understanding customer needs is critical for business transformation – while roughly 40% acknowledge that these needs are constantly changing

Market winners have adapted to this realisation. Best practices include data-backed updates to customer journeys at regular intervals; continual measurement of outcomes and customer satisfaction; seeing customer journeys from the customer’s perspective; and capturing customer feedback on each experience.

Those ‘winning’ in the market are significantly more likely to strongly agree their organisation continually monitors and responds to customer needsUnderpinning each of these practices is an investment in advanced technology. Despite acknowledging the need for constant adaptation to changing customer needs, just over 20% of businesses report having a clear understanding of the customer journey from the latter’s perspective, and a similarly minor share are able to capture real-time data.

Artificial intelligence, data analytics and automated customer journeys are all ways to enhance satisfaction while also gathering a versatile pool of data – cementing the relationship between digital transformation and customer-centricity.

Tech investments

That said, businesses must resist the urge to make blanket investments in the latest technology – hoping to derive value. A successful transformation – as explained by PwC’s Netherlands-based Europe customer transformation lead Timo Koenen – takes a more strategic approach to digitalisation.

Only 2 in 10 strongly agree they can capture real-time customer feedback and clearly understand customers’ view of their journey

“While different industries and business sizes prioritise a range of functions for transformation, what the winners have in common is that they are using technology smartly. The type of technology used is varied and different, but winners are clearly sticking to a common set of factors to help decide what technology would best help their company.” 

“Ease of use and faster processes are considered the most important attributes to encourage adoption of technology by customers, and may be the most essential features to get right up front.

“Winners are also pivoting their product and service offering to drive future growth, while the others are more likely to be focused on creating efficiencies and savings within the next year,” he concluded.