Your customer is already a digital user

Pandemic restrictions may have accelerated how customers expect to interact with businesses, but it wasn’t an unprecedented change.

“Everyone has a smartphone and a bank account – we’re the most banked country in the world. COVID restrictions accelerated the acceptance of digital payments, particularly in older generations. At the same time, we’ve witnessed in-person interactions migrate to predominantly digital experiences,” says  Elise Fairbairn – CommBank Managing Director, Transaction Banking Solutions, Institutional Banking & Markets.

When we talk about people who are digitally focused, we use the term “Digital Citizen”.

Who is a Digital Citizen? Pretty much everyone. In fact, not being digitally connected is an exception, with more than 99% of Australian adults using a mobile phone or going online according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) 2020 report. Other research found that 60% don’t have a landline, including 28% of those aged over 75. Roy Morgan Research revealed that more than 90% of Australian teens had a mobile.

“Both businesses and governments need to focus on digital service delivery that solves problems for the increasingly dominant digital audience,” says Fairbairn.

“If you’re providing services of any description – B2B or B2C – everyone is preferring the digital alternative. People are asking for it. This includes contactless ordering and delivery, real-time and on-demand shopping, straight through service delivery, and support wherever they are.

“While practically every business recognises that they need to have a digital presence, our advice is that digital transformation of your business should put the customer at the centre of the journey and solve real problems.”

It’s not just about shopping

Being more digitally adept is not the only way your customers have changed. Social media and phone cameras have armed almost everyone with the tools to shine a light on poor customer experiences, failures of human rights, diversity, equality, as well as climate inaction and green-washing – claiming to be sustainable without actually doing the work. People are organising and being given voice through digital platforms.

The sharpened focus on Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) concerns, coupled with increased transparency via social media, is driving a deep business change. ESG is now an accepted financial and reputational risk, no longer isolated as a legal, marketing or social media challenge, and that primacy is changing how business is being done.

Stakeholders – from investors and customers to communities and employees – are increasingly expecting ESG action as part of a business’ social license to operate. This is producing a growing awareness and urgency to not only review but change everything from supply chains management to packaging decisions to employee training.

How to start your digital transformation

Not sure if your business is digital enough? Here’s a few simple ways to check: how large a role do paper forms or spreadsheets play in your finance operations? What’s the average time from application or purchase to service delivery? How much effort and time goes in to producing management reports? If processing paper forms (including cheques) or refreshing spreadsheets are a key part of your finance team efforts, service delivery and reporting is slower than it could be and there are many opportunities to digitise the finance and customer journey.

Completely renovating your existing systems is an expensive proposition. “While we might see the perfect state as implementing a new state-of-the-art enterprise resource planning solution, we recognise that it can be expensive to overhaul your entire system,” says Fairbairn. “But there are alternatives that are lower cost, quicker to implement and still deliver digital uplift.”

Uplifting doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning legacy processes. Manual, paper-based processes can still have a role, used as a backup in the event there are issues with digital systems.

Identifying the biggest customer problems – from time delays to inefficient processes – and addressing them systematically is a good way to transition to more user-focused digital systems.

For clients in the CBA Institutional Portfolio, we offer specific client workshops that can help provide solutions for any problem. These include Design Thinking Workshops, which bring your organisation’s employees through a well-defined process, to develop a problem statement and find solutions. The most successful workshops engage people at every level of your organisation, understand if something is a genuine problem and develop solutions collaboratively that solve the issue.

Competition driving digital change

The businesses that are doing digital well are seeing positive results. “Digital uplift increases customer satisfaction – if it’s done well and genuinely solves a problem,” says Fairbairn.

“But I see far too many examples of businesses that don’t put the customer at the centre of the transformation journey and whilst legislation and regulators have lagged, they are catching up very quickly.”

There has never been a better time for digital transformation, but beware, failing to provide good, secure experiences can hurt your brand and, ultimately, your market share. “Most large corporates, even those in the public sector, acknowledge that the generation that is not digital is continuing to narrow – while new generations don’t know another way,” Fairbairn notes.

Using your team’s experience to ease the transition

Like your customers, your workforce is growing and adapting. If you provide employees with leadership, clear vision and tools they can use, they can support a successful digital transformation. Rather than resisting change, long-standing members of your team can use their understanding of your business processes and customers to help smooth the transition to a new digital process.

There are many transferrable skills that your existing team can use in the new digital environment. “Accountants have the training in things like numeracy and compliance; these are transferable skills for cyber security – where there is a huge demand,” says Fairbairn.

“Change management can include micro courses that help lift skills across the business. This can give existing staff crucial knowledge and skills to excel in the digital age while taking advantage of their experience. It’s a win all around.”

“It’s not just about being digital,” says Fairbairn. “It’s about taking advantage of the benefits of a digital business, from increased customer satisfaction, better use of our people’s skills, to driving down costs.

“There is a real value to being a digital business, built around people,” she adds.

CommBank has the digital credentials and experience as we innovate to support our clients. If you’re a CommBank customer, Australia’s most recognised digital bank is already putting your data to work for you. Either through smart alerts in the CommBank app, Business Insights in Daily IQ or bespoke analytics via CommBank iQ, our joint venture with leading analytics company Quantium, we’re bringing your digital citizens to you.

Our expert

Elise Fairbairn is the Managing Director of Transaction Banking Solutions, Institutional Banking & Markets at Commonwealth Bank. Elise has extensive experience in the banking industry, spanning a variety of senior roles that have covered operations, front-line client relationship management, strategy, leading large-scale business transformations, client research and transactional and trade, sales. Find out more about her on her LinkedIn page.

You'll find more information about the economy, technology and sustainability, and how those insights can improve your business at CommBank ForesightTM – insights for future-facing businesses.