Ideally, digitization should simplify the user experience, making it faster and more convenient for customers to interact with a company. But all too often that isn’t the case. In fact, when done wrong, digitization can add layers of unnecessary complexity, resulting in confusion and frustration, and ultimately, delivering the complete opposite of its intended outcome.

If you’ve ever had an extremely disappointing digital experience as a consumer – whether for online transactions, travel, streaming services, or something else, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Digital misfires are commonplace in the B2B world too, and the impact of these disasters, even the small ones, can be devastating to a business.

While there’s no surefire way to completely avoid mistakes in digital engagement, you can minimize them in your business by keeping today’s connected and empowered buyer in mind. Here are a few ideas from our Global Virtual Sales & Customer Success team to guide you as you design your strategies:

  • Design for customer intent. Ultimately, customers don’t care about “digital customer experience” – they just want to execute a specific job or task with ease and efficiency, whether that’s paying a bill, looking up a contract, or changing an order. Your digital strategy should therefore focus on enabling them to complete their desired transactions using as few clicks as possible. Taking it further, when processes can be intelligently automated to reduce or eliminate steps, the better the experience for the customer.
  • Keep it simple.Identify the key functions you want to enable via digital, and make sure that the customer’s options are clear, concise, and streamlined. It’s important to make digital navigation both obvious and functional for the customer. While you want to present enough options to cover an adequate range of choices at any given point in a transaction or business process, “less is more” is a concept that will nearly always serve you well as you define an engagement strategy.
  • Orchestrate across all channels. Your customers live in a connected, omni-channel world. That’s why it’s essential to orchestrate engagement across your website, transactional systems, email campaigns, and social channels, just to name a few. As an example, if a digital point of sale system isn’t synched with the marketing technology stack, it can create a disjointed customer experience. This same idea applies to the brick-and-mortar world: if it doesn’t align with digital engagement, you miss the opportunity to deliver a unified and more powerful message. The point is, even though customers might use multiple channels today, they see your brand through a single lens, and that lens must be tightly integrated and orchestrated – from both a technology and a human interaction standpoint.

The Takeaway for Partners

There’s no doubt that digitization is complicated. But it’s essential in an age in which – according to both Gartner and Forrester — 80% of the buying process will soon take place without any direct human-to-human interaction. Even more important, if you’re still not using digital engagement to address your customers’ rising expectations, your ability to compete in today’s subscription economy might be at stake. In fact, a few years ago, Gartner reported that 89% of companies believed that customer experience was their primary basis for competition. Today, that number is surely close to 100%.

We’ve been working diligently at Cisco to empower partners to connect more effectively with customers in today’s digital culture. Our personalized tools and programs, such as Lifecycle Advantage, embrace the three strategies above, and do all the heavy lifting for you. Making use of analytics, automation and data science, our goal is to not only transform how our partners communicate with customers, but also how they serve them and sell to them.

To learn more about the power of digitization, I invite you to listen to our on-demand webinar, Customer Experience in a Digital World. The presentation explores the differences between customer service and customer experience, as well as how to deliver consistent, seamless, and personalized experiences across all channels, touchpoints, and interactions.


John Stone

Senior Director, Digital Customer Experience

Customer Experience Organization