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How to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world – for product managers
Today our guest is sharing the steps for successful digital transformation.
He is Howard Tiersky, author of the Wall Street Journal bestselling book Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance.
He founded FROM, a digital transformation agency, which has won over 100 awards for user experience design, including for their work redesigning the Avis app which is now ranked by J.D. Power as #1 in the industry.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:50] What do you mean by digital transformation?
There are two spheres of digital transformation. The outer sphere is the digital transformation of the world and the customer. Your customer is living an increasingly digital lifestyle. The mobile phone and other digital touchpoints are central to almost everything we do, and that’s been a big change in the past 15 years. The inner sphere is the digital transformation of the company.
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[4:39] What’s an example of a company’s digital transformation?
Some people think only digitally native companies like Facebook or Google do well at digital transformation, but there are many legacy brands, born before the digital world, that have digitally transformed. For example, Starbucks has done a fantastic job integrating the mobile phone, allowing you to order and pay remotely. Taco Bell has remodeled their restaurants to have two separate drive-thru lanes, one for traditional orders and one for picking up food ordered on the app. Meeting the needs of the digital customer is not all about the app; Taco Bell remodeled their brick-and-mortar stores. Legacy companies can catch up and be toe-to-toe with digitally native companies.
[10:04] Tell us about customer journey mapping.
Customer journey mapping is the foundation of digital transformation, and customer research is the foundation of customer journey mapping. One mistake companies make is being so enthusiastic about mapping the future customer journey they forget about what’s happening right now. Enthusiasm for the future is great, but start with asking, “What’s our customer journey now?” Understand what happens to your customer when they interact with your product—what really happens, not the conceptual idea of what happens. Find the places you’re delighting your customer and the places you’re confusing or frustrating them. Be honest about your current journey, and use it as a starting place to create your future journey. Copy and paste the parts that are great and fix the places where the customer experiences pain and is not in a positive emotional state.
You may discover pain points that are solvable with small, easy changes. Of course, you may need to make more complex changes, but look for the low-hanging fruit to get started. Delight customers by saving them time and effort. Uber did a great job with this. They not only make it easier to call a “taxi”; they also save customers the effort of telling the driver where they’re going or paying the driver. In digital transformation, one goal is to remove the things that frustrate or annoy your customer. The other goal is removing something that’s taking their time and effort, even if it’s not your fault; that creates delight.
[19:00] Tell us about design thinking.
I think of design thinking in three key parts:
- Prepare to ideate: Empathize with the customer and define the customer’s problem.
- Ideate: Create ideas.
- Test your ideas: Prototype and test.
In our book, we’ve added some enhancements to design thinking:
- Business outcomes: Identify your goal, like increasing upsell, reducing call-handling time, or increasing customer satisfaction.
- Understanding the market: You not only have to solve the problem for your customer but must also do so in a way that’s superior to your competitors’ products.
Ideation: The book includes many tools you can use to generate ideas.
- Classic prioritization based on feasibility, desirability, and viability.
- Other prioritization components like risk factors and confidence level.
[24:33] Where do companies run into problems with digital transformation?
Sometimes, they don’t understand the customer, so they may be heading off in the wrong direction. Your transformation must be driven by the customer. You should focus on customers because they have the money, and success in business results from driving customers’ desired behavior. You’re going to invest a lot of time and money in digital transformation. For that investment to be worthwhile, it had better be driven by improving customer experience and driving customer behavior.
Another problem is not having a clear strategy and having a general resistance to change. The biggest human resistance to transformation within organizations is fear of change. You need to inspire people, align them with what you’re doing, and make them comfortable. Collect as many allies as you can, but you’ll never get everyone on board with transformation, so unfortunately you need to be prepared to go to war with some people who will never be comfortable with change.
Action Guide: Put the information Howard shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Check out Howard’s book Winning Digital Customers
- Get the first chapter of the book for free at WinningDigitalCustomers.com
- Learn more about FROM, a digital agency and consulting practice
“When the pace of change on the outside exceeds the pace of change on the inside, the end is near.” – Jack Welsh
Thank you for taking the journey to product mastery and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.