“Digital needs to move out of Shoreditch,” Adrian Clamp, head of customer advisory at KPMG UK, announced to a room of delegates at Forrester’s Digital Transformation conference in London this week.

Clamp said today’s CEOs are now fully aware of the need to digitally transform their businesses.

“The CEO gets it, they’ve been on the stuffy tours, sat with the digital start-ups and maybe even set up a digital garage in Shoreditch,” he explained. “But now they need to scale. It’s time to get serious.”

He added: “There’s a concern in leadership about digital transformation – they’re thinking: ‘We’re going to do it, we’re sold, Shoreditch has won’. But digital needs to move out of Shoreditch.”

Customer obsessed

According to Clamp, CEOs are now focused on customer obsession. But he described how many businesses have invested quite a lot of money on digital, but it hasn’t yet had the impact they were hoping for.

He said this obsession over customers has led brands to “over deliver” on front-end customer experience.

“It’s easy to over deliver and spend the money on a nice new airport lounge or to make your app responsive – you know how to do this,” he said.

“But do we really need to do all of that? We want to delight our customers of course, but we don’t have enough money to delight them all the time.”

And over delivering can be destructive to a brand if it does not also improve the back-end systems customers depend on.

“We’ve been focusing on the front end, on apps, websites – the presentation ‘lipstick’ layer. But if we really have to take this seriously we have to get the basics right,” he said pointing to frustrations caused by an error in a brand’s app or even the painful experience of contacting a call centre.

“And only then can you move up to personalising and ensuring empathy, which is what really drives brand loyalty,” he said.

Customer journey

These basics require understanding the customer journey, which Nick Mill, head of insights at Samsung Europe and previously O2, has thought a lot about.

Mill described how a mobile customer lifecycle begins with a shiny out-of-the-box experience which is very positive. But as they go through their two-year contract, these customers become increasingly disappointed – maybe the signal is still weak on their route to work or they drop their screen after the phone runs out of warranty.

“So by the end of your contract, you’re less satisfied, but its gets a bit more complicated, because who owns the customer?” he asks, pointing to Samsung as the handset manufacturer, the network provider or even Google as the software provider.

“Who should make that investment at the end of that lifecycle?”

Mill did not have the answer, but he believes brands should think more broadly and use data to understand their customers as much as possible.

“My view of the world is how are we interacting with consumers to get to the point where they want to buy more from us?” he asked, noting that this opportunity isn’t necessarily another £1 million into advertising, but brands need to look at where the opportunities are to invest in various areas of the customer lifecycle, be that online, retail or any other digital touchpoint.