Everyone is talking about the digital experience, but what does it really mean to go digital? Miles Suer recently took up this question, briefly exploring the digital journey being undertaken by an unnamed insurance carrier.

The 100-year-old carrier recognized that it needed to ramp up its digital footprint to meet the demands of an increasingly competitive landscape. The company’s leaders were eyeing the encroachment of Internet players, and the specter of being disintermediated by these online services.

The key to the carrier’s new digital strategy was to “achieve a single view of each customer across each of its distribution channels as well as its agent populations,” Suer relates, which includes “an automated, holistic view into things like customer history. They also wanted to marry the existing customer data with customer leads.” Special offers would be generated through these leads.

The company determined that the road to digital success was through analytics, and company’s greatest challenge was bringing data together to provide a single view of customers.

There are several components to achieving digital advantage. In a paper I prepared, underwritten by Oracle, as part of my work with Forbes Insights, we explored these key ingredients in detail:

Online channels: “Through the development of online channels, customers have access to information, pricing and ordering of products and services via mobile phones and websites.

The value of these approaches is realized when the customer experience is rendered consistent across all the channels they use to contact companies, whether it’s online, via mobile, through contact centers or in person.”

Digital product and service offerings: “Companies are branching out or evolving their product lines to include new digital products, such as subscription-based information services. With digital components to physical products/services -- leveraging the Internet of Things -- sensors can now be included with products to track and monitor performance. In the process, companies attain a 24/7 connected relationship with the customer.”

Analytics capabilities: “Organizations rely on data to better understand and engage with customers. As the digital market grows, companies have access to a wealth of data on customer profiles, preferences, purchases and even insight on what future purchases may be. Enterprises are integrating this information to improve their customization and overall service.”

Social interactions: “Social media enables customers to exchange information about products and services. In addition, customers active in these networks start to fill many roles once assumed only by paid, in-house staff —from brand advocates to informal tech support.”

Mobile connectivity: “The rise of mobile devices, particularly smartphones or tablets, means customers can be engaged where they are at the moment—whether it’s at home, at work, in a retail location or in the lobby of an entertainment venue. The capabilities rendered include the ability to make payments from the device itself for the products or services.”

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