There is no business we can think of that is immune from the shifting demands of consumers in our digital world.
I was recently doing working with a 125-year-old insurance company headquartered in the American Midwest to develop a digital transformation strategy. As with most insurance companies, its policies are sold through a network of financial professionals, who, in this instance, are predominately male, “middle of America” seasoned investment advisors. They have their ways of doing business that have worked for them for decades.
But here’s the challenge they are facing. Their customers are aging and, in a few years, their wealth will transfer to their children. Connections need to be made today with this generation of people set to inherit their parents’ wealth. Most likely, the old ways of doing business will not work with them.
One of the first exercises I performed with the senior executives of this insurance company was to ask them to individually share digital positionings of other companies that they admired and could be used as examples for their own transformation. In total, they provided 25 names with 11 of them being digital natives. The significance of this is that a group of senior executives of a 125-year-old, Midwest-based company competing in a highly conservative industry offered companies such as Amazon, Uber, and Zappos as ones they wanted to emulate.
The impact digital native companies are having on customer expectations is so pervasive in the marketplace that not even this group of conservative executives could escape it. Regardless of your industry, customers will expect a digital experience.
Elements of the pervasive digital expectations that are currently in the market include:
- Anywhere, anytime functionality, including a fully functioning mobile-first user experiences
- Minimal wait times with preferably near real-time processing of everything
- Micro-customization of the user experience based upon data and analytics
- Multi-channel communications
- Self-serve service and delivery options
As you think about and plan your digital transformation journey, do not think you are immune from the massive shift in consumer expectations – even if you are in a B2B industry. The reality is that all businesses are filled with humans that consume goods and services in a digital marketplace every day. Once exposed, they cannot help but bring the same expectations of convenience, speed, and customization to all of their business and commerce interactions.