A Q&A with digital experience leaders on how COVID-19 impacted the digital landscape and what we learned from it.
Sept. 22, 2021 | By One North, a TEKsystems company
2020 was the year for digital user experience to prove its worth. Out of necessity, organizations had to digitize their internal and external experiences. The goal? Engage with customers, support internal teams and continue operations (both smarter and faster).
Digital experience thought leaders discuss how COVID-19 impacted the digital landscape and what we learned from it
In a recent virtual panel, Ryan Schulz, managing director of brand and experience design at One North, our full-service digital agency, sat down with three digital leaders to discuss key insights that they uncovered during the pandemic, as well as how they have adapted their digital approach to meet their company’s changing needs.
Meet the Panelist:
Sami Hassanyeh, Chief Digital Officer at AARP
Eric Hicks, Director Digital Products at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
Laura Jarrell, Head of Global Customer Experience at CFA Institute
Organizations need to make their digital strategy a top priority.
Q: How can companies keep pace with the demand for digital adoption?
A: Sami Hassanyeh, Chief Digital Officer at AARP: It all comes down to good strategy and planning. Organizations need to make their digital strategy a top priority and align their current digital efforts to support that strategy. Companies should focus not only on meeting demand, but also the quality of the experience across all their digital customer engagements.
In today’s digital landscape, customers expect the same level of experience from every brand. Your experience will constantly be compared to the best organizations in the world—regardless of their size.
Q: What can organizations learn about maintaining strategic alignment from the pandemic?
A: Eric Hicks, Director Digital Products at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield: Good leadership serves as a North Star for an organization. Without it, the message gets diluted further down the chain. When leaders have a clear picture of the message behind their engagement, it’s easier to align efforts to strategy.
It's also vital that organizations recognize the importance of data when it comes to gauging how effectively your message is being delivered. These proof points lay a clear path for programs to follow or tell you when it’s time to try something different.
Q: How can digital leaders make data-driven decisions?
A: Laura Jarrell, Head of Global Customer Experience at CFA Institute: It is important for organizations to understand what impact their digital experience needs to have on their customers and how to measure it. Does an experience need to delight, or does it need to deliver value? Questions like these need to be a large part of the conversation when it comes to deciding on what metrics to prioritize. Companies should also use their measurements to determine what issues are temporary and what issues have been persistent. This information guides an organization's focus when it comes to creating solutions.
Not all engagements are created equally.
A: Hassanyeh: One key is to realize that not all engagements are created equally . To effectively use measurements, a company needs to first understand what their most important engagements are and how they contribute to driving growth within the business. Once an organization has a clear understanding of what their growth metrics are, they should focus on collecting relevant data about those engagements and decide how they can improve them.
Q: What advice do you have for leading a company’s culture during a digital transformation?
A: Hicks: Organizations need to empower people to make change. This involves creating tools and programs that enable people to develop a culture. They’ll also need to ensure that policies and practices don't restrict growth and adoption of that culture.
Leaders need to be transparent with their teams and willing to step out front and say, “that was the old way of performing, and this is our new way.” This clear distinction between the old and new culture can serve as a guide moving forward. They need to be willing to listen to their teams and make adjustments.
A: Jarrell: Something to remember is that you can’t just get the culture right if you don't have the capability. Leaders should look within their organization to see if there are groups already demonstrating the culture they want to go to. Find those groups and figure out what’s working and why it works. These groups can serve as a powerful beacon for the rest of the organization.
Q: What’s the one thing from the pandemic that’s going to stay?
A: Jarrell: The pandemic brought buyer uncertainty to the forefront. That uncertainty is something organizations must address in almost every conversion going forward. Before any conversion happens, people will need to really feel like they have all the information, so we will have to continually provide clarity and assurance to customers.
A: Hassanyeh: I think the lasting change we'll see going forward is the amount of work flexibility that’s been created. It will have to be a case-by-case basis, but organizations will have to maintain some flexibility when it comes to remote or in-office teams. Now that teams have proven they can be effective working from home, that’s a freedom that people want to keep.
A: Hicks: People will be much more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Going forward, organizations need to consistently challenge the idea of “this is the way we’ve always done things.” Identify areas to improve and grow. One thing we learned from the pandemic is that there is no one way to move forward in times of crisis. This pushed organizations to be creative, try new ideas, and be more adaptable and flexible when it comes to solving problems.
The digital user experience landscape is constantly changing to meet consumer demands. The global COVID-19 pandemic drastically accelerated the mass adoption of digital customer engagements, forcing companies to reevaluate their digital strategy. Now, we have been able to gain a clear understanding of what the new landscape looks like and learned how to navigate it. If you’re interested in learning more insights about the future of digital engagement, read more articles from our digital experience experts at One North.
About the Author
Sami has been with AARP for over 20 years. She has operated in various roles and currently serves as chief digital officer, where she oversees their digital operations. TEKsystems serves as a proud partner in furthering AARP’s mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
Eric leverages strategy development and execution to drive results. Eric has spent the last 17 years of his career developing his skills in program management and development. He currently serves as director digital products at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.
Laura has served as the head of global customer experience at CFA Institute for the last 7 years. The CFA Institute is a nonprofit organization that creates the curriculum, code of ethics and exams that underlie the CFA designation.