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In many sectors of the economy, power has shifted decisively from organisations to their customers. Why is this? In a nutshell, today’s consumers are digitally-empowered, and they live in an information-rich, and service-centric, environment; which is hugely competitive thanks to digital technology.

Consumer power is a major driving force behind the digital disruption businesses are seeing in up-and-coming competitors. These new, innovative entrants to the market are using technologies such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud (often termed SMAC), to grow from start-up to hyper-scale in a few, short years.

However, progressive organisations - both in the public and private sector - are also embracing digital transformation as the key to overhauling the customer experience, and to change the way they serve their customers or citizens.

The successful organisations are the ones that view digital transformation as a joined-up process that enables change across the organisation to deliver a superior customer experience.

These are the public and private organisations best placed to survive and thrive in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. But the ones that neglect customer experience in the era of digital transformation and disruption will quickly run into the buffers.

Exemplars for mobile innovation

Digital transformation can improve customer experience and help you fulfil a range of business goals: such as raising brand loyalty; building brand advocacy; or creating new opportunities to cross- or up-sell additional products.

McDonald’s is an example of an established food retailer that has come to rely on digital transformation to continually improve its customer experience.

Using O2’s Wi-Fi service and hybrid cloud WAN for network redundancy and resiliency, McDonald’s offers robust, 24/7 Wi-Fi to its customers. This has afforded it the ability to interact digitally with them and build brand awareness and loyalty. It also capitalises on each interaction to capture essential customer information for marketing and business development.

Public sector organisations are also improving the customer experience, and serving their communities better, through digital transformation, says Ian Taylor, Head of Specialists, Unified Communications, Telefónica O2UK.

Taylor says, “There are increasing demands on government to deliver better, more effective, sustainable public services, and all with a greater accountability to the citizens it serves. For many years now O2 has been focused on laying the foundations for digital transformation across the UK Public Sector, helping many organisations transition gradually towards a truly digitised environment.”

One initiative O2 is involved with is helping customers to integrate citizen service operations, such as housing, with social media, giving users the opportunity to shift communications based on choice, supported by free O2 tablets and local O2 Public Wi Fi. “This is extending community reach, driving down the cost and resource associated with ‘traditional’ public communications and increasing service satisfaction,” comments Taylor.

Mobile technology is an important aspect of the customer experience today, which is why innovative organisations are offering things like video product catalogues through the O2-owned company Weve; or mobile coupons, which are triggered by location or a customer action.

Other mobile initiatives that are boosting customer experience are: mobile ticketing, which is now being used across the board from public services to entertainment; and mobile-enhanced click and collect, letting the customer know where and when to collect an item from a store. This type of close interaction with consumers gives businesses the opportunity to cross- or up-sell additional products.

One corporation, Hilton Hotels, is enabling customers to use their mobile phones, via the Hilton HHonors app, to select, and check in and out of their room at certain hotels. They can even unlock the room and elevators using their mobile device as a digital key.

In another interesting mobile project with Weve, the broadcaster ITV  targeted 18+ ABC1 entertainment fans with a message promoting ‘Good Morning Britain’. It was sent between 7-8am to act as a wakeup call and encourage consumers to switch on to ITV. As a result of this brand advocacy initiative, 11% of targeted viewers watched the programme; and there was a 44% uplift in future viewership from people who recalled the text message.

Adding value to transformation

One of the useful things about interacting more closely with customers and citizens is that it generates a lot of rich information, so you can utilise transformation to add value. Organisations can analyse this Big Data to improve their services; maximise their profits and generate new revenue streams.

For example, O2 Wi-Fi Insights is a service for organisations that use O2 Wi-Fi, which analyses anonymised, aggregated customer usage patterns and behaviour. So, it can provide insights such as customer demographics; top website domains browsed; and numbers of registered and returning customers, and how and when customers are connecting to your wireless network.

Another service from O2, Smart Steps, uses anonymised, aggregated data from O2’s mobile network to give organisations information on the number of people that visit an area or location by time, gender and age. It can also provide details on where crowds are coming from and going to, so you can optimise your services, car parking or transportation.

Another sophisticated innovation that enhances customer service is O2's Smart Digits. Lloyds Banking Group uses this so it knows when a mobile phone SIM swap or call divert has been set up by a malicious user. This enables it to make a decision on whether a transaction should proceed.

In all of these examples, digital transformation is the key behind modernising the customer experience; and it’s as essential in the public and third sector as the private sector. “It’s my firm belief that in order to deliver genuine innovation across our communities, that’s sustainable innovation, we must deliver highly-reliable and secure, people-centric solutions, which actually unite our local authorities and the citizens they serve,” says O2’s Billy D’Arcy.

Ultimately, underpinning your customer experience initiatives, you need to have good technology and good systems which put people first, empowering your employees and customers alike. Along with “good service is good business”, there is another business maxim that goes: “happy users make for happy customers.”

This article is bought to you in association with O2