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Digital Transformation Paralysis: The Doldrums of Customer Experience Transformation

September 9, 2020


Over the last few months, we have spoken with many B2C organisations with large contact centres. Without fail, we constantly hear the following digital transformation concerns from business leaders, operations directors, and customer experience professionals:

  • “We want to transform our business and we are evaluating several projects at the moment our plans will finalise in 2021…”
  • “Change and transformation is our top priority at the moment we are looking to start projects very soon…”
  • “We need to make everything digital but we don’t know what will be first…”

At PolyAI we design, create, and optimise voice first virtual agent technology to automate inbound contacts, so it’s great to hear statements like these.

However, this is what I call the doldrums of digital transformation. Why? Because these statements, when broadly applied to a business, can result in transformation paralysis. This paralysis comes from business leaders being stuck in the middle of vendors who promise digital transformation and organisations in their business demanding new technologies. Simply put, too many choices + too many technologies + too many different demands = no change / decision.

As a sailor, the doldrums, is never a good place to be. Especially when you’re racing and see other boats, which have taken a different route, steadily blowing past you. Losing a race when sailing can result in lost pride, but losing the race in business has far more serious consequences.

So how do you get out of the doldrums or avoid them all together? A good skipper would break down the challenges and identify the problems with the highest priority and solve them in order to start moving in the right direction. Applying this same logic to customer experience, here are 3 categories and questions you can ask to guide yourselves out of the doldrums.

Cost Savings

Although cost savings is not always the end goal, it’s important to first determine the financial benefit of any digital transformation project. This can quickly be determined with the following questions:

  • “Will this project reduce cost?”
  • “Will it be self funding?”
  • “What is the ROI?”
  • “Can we measure & prove it?”

These questions may seem obvious but it’s amazing how often cost savings are overlooked. Asking these questions late in the game or near project sign off is a quick way to stay in the doldrums. Budgets are stretched more than ever and financial gatekeepers need proof that the solution can make an impact on the bottom line.


I use “experience” here as a general term rather than “customer experience” because organisations also need to consider the impact of digital transformation projects on their employee experience as well. So ask yourself:

  • “Will the customer journey be improved and the customer effort decrease?”
  • “Will my customers & employees view this project as a positive change?”
  • “Will this make my customers’ & employees’ lives better?” (even if in a small way)
  • “Will I be able to adapt what I have today to meet the demands of tomorrow?”

You have to ask these questions because humans have never had it so easy! Everything today is convenient and available at the click of a button, or a quick shout to the smart speaker. This convenience has pushed expectations to record levels. Businesses will need to constantly transform their experience to attract and retain customers and employees alike to avoid becoming a ghost ship.

Business Intelligence

Did you know that data scientist is one of the fastest growing job titles in terms of demand? They have become the new navigators for business.

This is because many businesses are finally waking to the successes of companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. When you think about it, these companies know us better than we know ourselves. They anticipate our needs & wants now, and predict what we want in the future. They are able to do this because they leverage data from every customer interaction with their organisation and use it to steer their business into the future. They’ve already answered yes to the following questions:

  • “Will data from the solution allow me to optimise my business and improve efficiency?”
  • “Will I be able to see how my customers are interacting with my business and track trends?”
  • “Will this data help me to make important decisions on business direction?”

The pure nature of these questions show you how powerful business intelligence through data can be. Data is quickly becoming its own currency. In the future, the return on investment of a solution may be weighed against data, insights, and analytics rather than a monetary value.

In conclusion, all of these questions are fairly broad but can serve as a basic guide to get you off the doldrums of transformation. If you are evaluating a digital transformation solution or project where you can answer yes to all of these questions, I’d say you are in for some pretty smooth sailing! Your next step is to go into detail for each category and ask more questions until you are sure of your direction.

If you can’t answer yes, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.

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