The customer journey is being transformed using digital tools and creative customer engagement strategies. Customers can: try on glasses at home and order them online; take classes and learn new skills from industry experts; order groceries, make appointments, and get medical care all from our cellphones and laptops. As I pointed out in my January thoughts blog “SWOT Analysis: 2021 Opportunities And Threats”, this is an exciting time for marketers because digitization has been propelled forward at an unprecedented rate due to the pandemic. When the world was on lockdown and people were in their homes for months on end, companies used digital tools to reach their customers. Now, the customer’s journey begins and ends online. Companies are working with a “digital front door”.
All of the bells and whistles of traditional marketing like glistening storefronts, compelling campaigns, thoughtfully designed websites, and advertising initiatives are worthless without a successful customer experience. The “digital front door” represents the first place where customers meet the brand/company, and it’s instrumental for a successful customer journey.
Marketers must make it easy for customers to get in the digital front door. It’s imperative that marketers implement a process for customers to get in the “digital front door” so that they can begin their customer journey. This means accessibility and ease of use should be at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. The coronavirus pandemic pushed digitization forward at an alarming rate, but many resulting processes that were built out of necessity and urgency were clunky at best. This meant half of the customer journey existed on a third-party platform and half existed on the company’s site or even in person. These hindrances deter customers from completing the sales process.
SRS Web Solutions noticed that dental patients would neglect to complete paperwork because it was spread between platforms, systems, and even devices. SRS adopted a “digital front door” model and built technology that promotes accessibility and ease of use for a specific industry: dentistry. Their platform, mConsent, digitizes and streamlines all of the processes necessary for a dental patient to complete their visit, including scheduling, appointment reminders, intake paperwork, insurance verification and initial video consultations with the dentist. Patients can complete everything online from the comfort of their home before they ever cross the practice threshold. Their technology, which ultimately functions as a healthcare marketing tool, ensures that the customer’s experience is seamless and simple and gets them through the door and in with the doctor more efficiently. This is what omni-channel marketing looks like in a digitized world, and these tools make up the “digital front door” experience.
Automation equals convenience, which improves the customer experience. Any marketer will tell you this: customer acquisition and retention are the primary goals. Digitization is more than online marketing or online tools, it also means automation and streamlining workflows that result in more convenience for both customers and business stakeholders. Automated tools can improve the marketing team’s efficiency and effectiveness because less paperwork means less time filing, and digital documents are easier to filter through than paper documents. Digital processes such as forms can also be easily updated without rework, instead of requiring patients or customers to fill out an entirely new document before each visit. Automation also provides direct and clear data insights as to whether or not marketing initiatives are effective. These insights can save thousands of dollars (if not more) on marketing efforts if companies quickly identify what is working, and what is not.
As I said in my January thought blog, marketers should focus on automated tools in 2021 and beyond because they can make the most of a company’s first impression by providing convenience. The pandemic added a layer of complexity to business operations and now there are many different outlets for communicating with customers and a greater need for virtual interactions than even before. If leveraged tactically, these assets will improve the customer experience and support growth in the company by improving customer retention rates. Profit margins can increase if processes are made more efficient and allow customers to be served in a shorter amount of time.
In order to thrive, businesses must streamline and automate their essential processes to provide ease of use for their customers. The “digital front door” is where virtual marketing overlaps with the customer experience, it is the first place where customers experience the business. Companies who neglect to accept digitization risk becoming obsolete, and this is especially true at the “digital front door”. Marketers must understand that innovation will help brands meet demands, solidify a loyal customer base, and capture a lion’s share of the market.
For more thoughts on marketing, view the free video entitled “Marketing For Business Owners Session 1“.
Copyright ©John Trenary 2021