Level 1 on the Digital Maturity Framework is “Business as Usual,” where an organization is described as having leaders who rebuff the need for change.
Business as Usual organizations:
- Support a traditional funnel approach to the customer journey.
- Departments are not collaborative in their work to manage customer experiences, contributing to a disjointed and dated customer journey.
- Digital literacy and expertise exist in pockets of the organization but are not a prime concern at the executive level.
- Minimal research has been done on digital and traditional customer behaviors, preferences, and path to purchase.
- Organizations are still following technology-first, not customer-first, roadmaps and processes that are outdated.
Altimeter didn’t specify the percentage of businesses in each of their six models, but I suspect many agencies are still dealing with leaders of Business as Usual organizations, and this is a tough slog for digital agencies.
The opportunities for immediate results might be great; but the probability of frustration in dealing with Business as Usual clients is likely to be greater if you don’t recognize the signs of resistance before you engage with them.
If you do recognize those signs, here’s a three-step strategy to help you help your client:
- Plan for lots of educational conversations and to support your point of contact with plenty of ammunition to deliver to the executive suite.
- Build in those activities to your projects and ensure that your messages are reaching their targets.
- Don’t assume your everyday point of contact is delivering your content to the right person at the right time. Plan regular program reviews. Early and often.
More likely, you’re dealing with businesses in Digital Maturity Level 2, or “Present and Active,” where there are change agents inside who recognize opportunities to experiment – pushing boundaries and acting in a “beg forgiveness” manner. And the customer is more in the forefront of programs.
In Present and Active organizations, according to Altimeter:
- Early adopters recognize digital, mobile, and social, and all disruptive technologies introduce new opportunities to test and learn internally and externally.
- Executives take notice, and alliances are formed to further promote “test and learn” programs.
- Leaders develop proficiency in their department’s tool(s) but have little visibility into other technologies used across the company to gauge customer behaviors, engagement, and interactions.
- New work creates internal buzz and concern around change, and pilots reveal need for customer experience (CX) leadership.
- The need to prove the ROI of
CX programs sparks conversations between departments that eventually lead to sharing and collaboration.
The challenge for agencies with Present and Active clients is to recognize that these change agents (your connections) are, indeed, disruptive.
And unless they (and you) deliver positive results – in revenue with a healthy ROI – it’s likely you’ll be seen as the problem if forgiveness isn’t easily earned.
Reporting is essential here. The more data you can provide to Present and Active leaders, the more you’ll be seen as positive change agents, helping them push departments to work together, collaborating for results.
I’ve found that – with my own Present and Active clients – communications between managers and their leaders is usually the difference between buzz and concern.
If leadership can’t see that your digital programs are delivering awareness, pipeline, revenue, and ROI – your programs aren’t working.
So spend the time to create executive dashboards for Marketing, Sales, and CX leadership (oftentimes the CEO in SMB) to ensure they see results. And make sure those dashboards are relevant not only to the C-Suite, but to board members as well.
- Develop and deliver regular reports to your clients’ leadership teams – with data AND analysis – in order to train them to analyze themselves.
- Coach your clients to report weekly to their leadership team members on accomplishments, roadblocks and results.
- Find and nurture cross-functional relationships (starting with sales, but moving quickly to customer success and IT) that further align departments on providing customer value – whether attracting, nurturing, closing, or retaining them.
Digital Darwinism at Work
Change is constant. And digital Darwinism works on clients and agencies in a very egalitarian manner.
Agencies who can map their clients along a digital maturity curve will very likely craft programs, reports and relationships that are relevant, and drive revenue and positive results. (For both parties.)
And those who don’t recognize the digital maturity of their clients are likely to spin wheels, frustrate clients (and your own team members), and end up as road kill – or worse yet, going extinct – as other agencies find ways to help clients (maybe even yours) move up the digital maturity framework.
Where does your agency stand?