Transforming Customer Communications: Aligning the Digital with the Physical

Autumn 2022

Accelerated by the pandemic, more businesses than ever are embarking on digital transformation projects to respond to the evolving expectations of customers and employees. A survey from McKinsey discovered that 90% of respondents’ organisations pursued major digital transformation in the last three years. Not only did businesses need to adapt to survive, but they also had to meet new business challenges – and quick.

Understanding your customers’ preferences

Common pitfalls during digital transformation

Gen Z and Millennials represent 25% of all UK retail spend, with this figure set to increase. To stay one step ahead, you need to understand the preferences of all your customers and prioritise their experience at every stage of your transformation journey. Luckily, the solution is simple: your customers must be at the forefront of every transformation initiative, requiring a seamless communications strategy. 

As omnichannel communications give you the ability to easily switch between digital and physical, you need to recognise when to do this to unlock maximum engagement. Though digital options remain more popular in the UK, there is still a place for the physical. A study by Lancaster University found that older adults are often hesitant to switch to digital even when they don’t struggle with the technology. This is often driven by concerns for how a total shift will impact society – such as leading to post office closures and job losses. Offering a mix of digital and physical can offer these people the peace of mind needed to make a partial transition. 

Digital transformation can be an intimidating process. Getting to grips with new technologies and winning over employees and customers is not always easy.
This can make it an all-encompassing task which distracts from key goals – the most important of which should always be the enhancement of the
customer experience. 

Again, this comes down to planning. All too often, digital transformation projects are rushed, with a lack of understanding of how they will really impact customer relationships. This is especially true in the stage before they are fully ironed out. Confusion and distraction can easily seep in and cause problems, and this in turn can filter down and impact the experience delivered to customers. 

The best of both worlds

Despite the challenges on the road to digital transformation, there’s no need to shy away from it. The key is maintaining your attention on both the digital and the physical simultaneously. With this level of focus, you can more effectively transition physical customers to digital in a way that ensures they feel supported. 

When businesses zoom out and avoid a tunnel-vision approach to digital transformation, the value of traditional forms of communication emerges. Most notably, there is the issue of ‘email fatigue’. In a world where customers are inundated with emails, the novelty of physical mail is powerful. 

Recently, The Institute of Customer Service found that customers communicated with by letter reported a higher level of satisfaction than customers engaged with digitally. The relative scarcity of letters means that younger consumers in particular are more eager to engage with them over yet more emails. This makes physical mail, when part of a solid marketing strategy, a highly effective tool for engaging and building loyalty with younger customers.

The value of an omnichannel approach is clear. By forming a communications plan that takes advantage of the most useful and effective aspects of both digital and physical methods, businesses can see their customer engagement rate skyrocket, and demonstrate how much they really care about the customer experience they provide. 

David Taylor

Executive Director
Paragon Customer Communications

Since joining Paragon Customer Communications as Executive Director in 2014, David Taylor has spearheaded the success of the Sales Enablement team, enabling Paragon’s clients to forge stronger connections to their customers through omnichannel communication solutions.