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Going digital enhances customer satisfaction

Mr Smith says going digital is all about creating a new culture in the organisation.

GOING digital in a big and convincing way offers businesses a great opportunity to modernise their operations to increase the level of customer satisfaction with the products and services being made available in the market place, says a leading expert in the area.

"Digital offers the opportunity to remove significant friction from the customer journey, offers a deeper level of engagement and an overall better customer experience," says Laurence Smith, head of Asia-Pacific at, a mobile-first, micro-earning platform.

However, it relies on the organisation and its leaders' understanding of digital well enough to re-think the customer journey and really understand what the customer wants, adds Mr Smith. He was a keynote speaker at SMU's Institute of Service Excellence's release of the CSISG 2017 first-quarter results.

"In other words, what's the 'job to be done' when the customer comes to you? Think about it from their perspective and optimise your offerings and processes to meet their expectations. To do this well, organisations need at least a basic understanding of design thinking and customer journeys," Mr Smith says.

He was previously with DBS Bank as managing director, human resources, group head of learning & talent development. At the bank he led both the initiative to help it define its purpose and the decision to "make Banking Joyful" and initiated and led the "Digital Mindset" initiative. Now, he advises organisations on digital transformation and creating a digital mindset. Mr Smith says that technology cannot be ignored or un-invented. It should be harnessed to build a competitive advantage instead. For organisations that ignore new technology, competitors will happily overtake, powered by digital tools.

"One of the most important roles of leaders today is to prepare their organisation for disruption by developing a 'digital mindset' across the organisation, quite literally a broad understanding of digital and its implications for work, society and your organisation," he adds.

In fact digitisation can be harnessed to enrich the customer experience, especially in a small but highly competitive country like Singapore. "The good news is that Singapore is a hotspot for innovation and experimentation around many aspects of customer experience, but the challenge this represents, is that customer expectations are continually rising. Not to be left behind, you and your organisation need to strive to learn faster and become more agile in understanding the opportunities and threats," says Mr Smith. "If you can develop a 'digital mindset' within your organisation, understand design thinking and customer journeys, and run some small, cheap experiments, you can innovate faster than your competitors."

Enriching the business world through innovation and creating a culture of purposeful innovation in an organisation will benefit customers and help increase their satisfaction level, says the expert.

"Imagine the power of an entire organisation that is thinking about innovating around the customer journey, and is empowered and enabled to do so, versus a single department being responsible for innovation, or customer satisfaction," says Mr Smith.

"While this is easy to say, it is not easy to do. It requires setting a compelling vision for the organisation and then bringing it to life. You must also simultaneously change the systems, processes and incentives to make it possible for employees to live to this vision. So it requires a blend of both culture and capabilities, to be possible and sustainable."

Mr Smith says going digital can be a creative way to make working life more joyful for staff who may have been around for 20 or 30 years in an organisation and are used to doing things in old ways, so that ultimately the customer experience goes up, resulting in higher satisfaction.

"While technology is becoming increasingly good at doing many things that people have traditionally done, it is often the most boring and least value-added activities that technology replaces first.

"A thoughtful organisation can leverage technology to give people of any age more time to interact with customers, better knowledge and information on the spot to answer their questions, and the ability to create better customer experiences.

"There is often an assumption that millennials are quicker to adopt new technology and older workers slower, but I think it is actually a design question of what do people do best and where can technology complement that. He adds: "Either way, technology is not going away, so we need to think deeply about how technology augments people's skills and helps them do a better job and how to introduce it in a fun and non-threatening way."

Mr Smith says going digital is all about creating a new culture in the organisation. But the challenge is how to create it and make it work for raising customer satisfaction.

"People often think about 'digital' either from the perspective of digital marketing, or technology. While an understanding of the implications and applications of technology is important, 'digital transformation' is actually all about culture, values and behaviours," he says.

In 2014, DBS pioneered the concept of hackathons combining its internal staff with external startups to create prototypes of Apps to solve real customer problems. DBS did this with 500 of its high potential leaders with great success. CEO Piyush Gupta then focused on creating 'a 22,000-person startup' and DBS used a micro-learning platform called to cascade this 'digital mindset' across all its 22,000 employees. This equipped everyone with a digital mindset and the ability to innovate from a customer perspective, says Mr Smith.