Why is ‘Digital’ hard?

Jane Peacock, Chief Digital Fear Slayer

 March 2016

It promises so much ‘good stuff’, right? But the implementation of all of that good stuff is where it gets hard?

Ideas and theories are easy. When humans get involved, it gets hard.

But perhaps it doesn’t need to be so hard?

This is a story of how the human skills of empathy & collaboration are the keys to digital success and not technology.

But first the backstory. (I promise there will be 10 take aways and I have tried and perhaps failed to keep it succinct but titles are there to help you skim)

I often get invited into businesses to transform their marketing department or to bring some of that digital stuff into the boardroom to enable the business to reimagine their future. To reconsider new and emerging tech to solve very human problems.

But let’s focus for now on marketing.

The promise of measurement & accountability has lured businesses into the digital conversation. Thats a good thing as digital has been around for as long as the internet so some of us who were early to the digital conversation might scream out, “it’s about time” & “what took you so long”.

But I look to that with excitement and ponder who can I be of service to that challenge in a way that ensures my clients continue to evolve their business into the future.

Businesses have been ‘sold’ the promise of measurement and accountability. The idea that every tactic and its related business outcome can be accounted for and optimised in service to business growth. They have been sold the idea that it is easy, and they are eager to learn more.

If you are hoping to read a story of how ‘easy’ delivering on that promise is, turn back now. Click your heals and chant ‘there is no place like home’ and you can go back to the way things were.

The truth is that it’s hard.

To enable measurement reporting, we need first to map the full customer journey. This is where digital gets involved.

But what is digital?


Digital is the human experience of technology in your business and it does in fact include ALL humans – your staff and your customers.


The customer journey is vast and travels through many silos as your customers move from realising they have a pain; to the awareness that your product or service is the solution to that pain. It is often a journey that takes your customers through a jungle of tech and offline experiences that can lead to more pain and more frustration.


The customer journey is where it in fact gets hard and it’s nothing to do with the process of mapping a journey. That part is easy. Just google it and then practice it by mapping your own journey as a customer! Do that 5 or 6 times, and you are now a pro. You can start teaching others to also map the customer journey in their business. It’s seriously not hard but it does take empathy, listening and a willingness to seek and action feedback.


So, the hard part is not the mapping part, but the application of the resulting journey and the many challenges it reveals. It’s a costly process to undertake due to the fact it reveals the elephant in the room. It shows the weaknesses, the friction points, the customer disappointment, the customer expectations and the areas where the internal team have been frustrated or held back from delivering your value.


Are you willing to point the elephant out in the room as a business? If not, turn back now. Click your heals 3 times!


If you are want to continue on this journey to OZ, this article shares a few key principals to consider.


#1 Transparency


Don’t start mapping your customer journey unless you are genuinely willing to see behind the velvet curtain. To see OZ peddling away and all the warts and all it enables us to see. Perhaps consider flipping that by encouraging your team to get curious. To support them on their journey to go hunting for elephants.


#2 Silo removal


Your customer journey travels through many silos in your business.


From marketing at step 1, where they gain an understanding of your value as a business within the context of your products or services.


This is also where the experience can get painful. Consider the challenge if your customer doesn’t want that product or service you have to offer (business). Or perhaps they don’t understand the value of the product (marketing). Or they aren’t sure if the process they need to go through to simply jump from step 1 to step 15 as they want to buy it straight away (operations & sales).


#3 Reimagine your value


Your value is not determined by your current products and services. Your value is determined by what your customers themselves value. Perhaps it’s time to consider how you can then build value by understanding your customers better. Imagine how you could build value to then in turn build greater connection?

Back to that customer journey again. Imagine that your customer has now managed to flow through the digital ecosystem and has landed on your website (technology) or social presence (marketing). They attempt to learn more about your brand and the value it has within their life. They find the website difficult to use or perhaps, confusing as you have released the complexity of your own business onto your market. They get frustrated or worse, click away as they continue their search to find someone who ‘gets them‘.

#4 Consider your digital ecosystem

You digital ecosystem is vast and extends well beyond your website or social media presence. So let it go untapped and unplanned and it will ensure the story book of your value is wrong. Be planned and build that value, one chapter at a time.

So back to your customer journey again. Even if they get through that next gate, they enquire or submit a question on social media. As a human, they see these steps as the same. “I simply want to know more” they scream in frustration. I am now engaged and ready to commit. But is your business ensuring that all of these channels give that customer precisely what they want at precisely the right time? Or are you frustrating the customer with hoops they need to jump through? Do you really understand what they want at that stage?

#5 K.I.S.S

Keep it simply (or you are ) stupid! Are you making the process simple and straight forward or are you making it complex as you failed to ‘sense make’ your own business before releasing it onto the market?

Back to that customer journey again. They are ready to finally make a purchase. Those brave souls who made it through the woods are ready to ‘click add to cart‘ or to ‘book a meeting‘. Is that step easy? Is it similar or better to the experience they have had through other companies? Are you surprising and delighting them or making it hard for them to simply pay you?

#6. What opportunities are there to increase value for your customers?

Once the customer finally makes it through the final gate, they are then handed over to finance. Do you make sure any communications with the customer are still aligned to the story that started at step one? Or are you transferring the same siloed experience that your staff have out and onto your customers? How can they possibly understand that there is still more value for them to access?

#7 Are your staff fully enabled as the ‘value communicators’ within your business?

This is where staff become a fundamental step in the process of customer journey mapping. Every step of your customer journey maps the staff journey. Is it easy for your team to communicate your value at every step? Is it easy for your staff to show empathy and understanding so that your customers get a sense that you care? Or are you also making your staff jump through hoops also?

As you can see, a customer journey can flow through 5-6 different silos in your business. So if you are expecting marketing to do this in isolation, you have failed before you even started. Perhaps it’s time to go back to Kansas and forget about OZ all together?

#8 Its a team game and requires human skills!

Digital simply doesn’t work unless there is empathy, collaboration and transparency.

That’s what makes it hard.

The hard part is that these are the core skills you require as a business to ensure you can take hold of the many opportunities that digital represents.

That is what stops marketing from being the engine for growth in your business.

Customer journey mapping is a tool. It can transform your business if you let it. The promise it offers is to make your business customer-centric and that can and will lead to increased growth and profitability.

And remember that customers and staff are what give your business resiliency so they should be central to everything.

#8 transparency is key

And so, if you do want ‘return on investment reporting’ for your marketing team as a result of customer journey mapping. Transparency is key and thats not just within the marketing department but throughout the entire business. Are you willing to let departments see behind the velvet curtain or do your encourage silos and competition? Data is what enables this transparency!

#9 its hard so don’t do it alone!

You will fail if you leave it in the hands of marketing alone. They need insights and inputs from the whole business. They need an open conversation to determine what matters to every silo. To usher forward a solution that is right for the customer and right for the business.

You need a working group that travels through each silo with a very compelling vision of what it will look like as a team if we transform the customer (and staff) journey.

#10 Before you even consider customer journey mapping, consider this.

? What is the vision for your marketing team?

? What is the role of marketing within the corporate strategy?

? What are the blocks to achieving that vision and delivering on that role?

? How are you currently performing against those corporate strategies?

? What are the blocks or barriers?

? You will need new skills within your marketing function, so what are the current skills you have and what are the gaps?

And most importantly, transforming your marketing function from the marketing of old to the marketing of the new requires that you are brave. That you are willing the challenge the status quo. That you have the support of the broader business to turn marketing into the engine for business growth.

Marketing of old was viewed as the colouring department for the company and failing to see its power means you are missing an opportunity.

And that opportunity is human.

Who are the staff you wish to empower to communicate the value in your business more effectively and who are the customers you want to be of service to more creatively.

That’s digital.

And it doesn’t have to be hard.

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