Digital Sweet Spot

Image courtesy of Carlos Porto /

Image courtesy of Carlos Porto /

Digital tools that have gained traction in our personal lives have changed expectations in our work lives. Case in point: recently, the office chorus has been singing, “Why can’t we have video conferencing?” They Skype and FaceTime on their smartphones and tablets while on personal time (and some for work), but the official work options are limited to phone calls, in-person meetings, web-based (non-video supported) meetings.

Meanwhile, all organizations are feeling the constant pressure to grow revenue, innovate and service customers 24 x7, while wrestling with rising costs, increased competition and the churn of both customers and employees.

One component of this pressure is the availability of ways to communicate, collaborate, access information and be productive regardless of time, place or distance. At work, we are constrained by the parameters of standard business hours and work location, available/approved technology and security permissions. It’s a now-common refrain: organizations are entrenched in old-school, highly controlled approaches, while today’s employees want to be trusted and do their work autonomously. Example: Gen X and Y members use a wide variety of social tools to interact with peers, yet organizations largely rely on email, phone and intranets for collaboration.

This tension can’t help but impact the customer experience. Your organization’s customers have the dual perspective of being both individual consumers and employees themselves. They experience the same frustration in their own daily interactions, and, as such, would welcome seamless integration when working with your organization. Like your own employees, your customers won’t appreciate or understand barriers you may have in place that prevent them from doing business with you when they want and how they want. One potential obstacle is the security, confidentiality and required controls over both customer information and communication. This may not always align with what multitasking, tech-savvy employees want in terms of integrated tools for their personal and work lives.

Clearly, consumer and employee experiences have changed and are always changing. Here is a simple framework to think about the “digital sweet spot,” the tipping point where what you deliver and what these constituents expect is in balance.

  Personal or Consumer Experience Employee or Customer Experience
Communication and Collaboration Leverage audio and video tools for live or recorded communication. Personal creation and editing is easy and fun.Document, task, editing, and collaboration tools allow groups to form and work together quickly and efficiently. Are monolithic tools in use?   What vetting process for tools is used?Are they as easy to use outside the office as they are in the office?Can you collaborate with tools other than email? Do you have to be invited to join or are you welcome to participate where you can contribute?
Decision Making Google search for data sources and on-line analytical tools.Crowd-source recommendations based on reviews (e.g. Yelp, Amazon Reviews, Rotten Tomatoes). How long does it take to get access to your enterprise data?Do your suppliers/vendors/partners provide data in an easy to use way? 
Productivity Search YouTube, Kahn Academy, or EdX for just-in-time learning on just about anything.Curated information sources keep you up-to-date on relevant topics.  Can tools be used across multiple devices?Is internal knowledge easily accessed? Is this published for clients and customers?Are internal sources encouraged to contribute their knowledge to open sources? Can customers subscribe to them?

Based on your industry or role, your view of the sweet spot may vary. But be aware—be very aware. If you aren’t hitting the sweet spot, your competitors just might be. That may be just the edge they need to win business in a challenging marketplace.

Creating your own digital sweet spot begins with taking a good hard look at what is possible, then adding a reality check of what is practical. Somewhere in the middle, erring on the side of the customer/employee experience, you’ll be able to engage with these audiences on a new level. The payoff may be increased loyalty from customers and increased job satisfaction from employees. That’s a win-win by any measure.

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