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Successfully navigating business transformation: How to avoid key pitfalls when it comes to digital comms

Successfully navigating business transformation: How to avoid key pitfalls when it comes to digital comms

By Paul Holland, CEO at Beyond Encryption


As we reach the mid-way mark of 2023, it’s hard to remember a time when digital transformation wasn’t a priority for businesses. Organisations across each industry are taking steps to streamline and digitise their services, with client comms being a key focus for many. But when deciding which digital interactions work best for your customers – whether that be email, social media, live chat, or portals – how do you know which is the fruitful path to take? 

Change is always a risk, no matter the situation, and I’m sure most of us have heard the horror stories of the companies that get it wrong. No one wants to run the risk of alienating their customer base after all. However, the threat of standing still is far more serious, with those who take too long to make their move failing to remain relevant, and those who dare to take the leap reaping the rewards. 

So, with digital change now a business imperative, how can organisations avoid the traps and setbacks that litter the road to digitalisation?

Give the people what they want

No company can take a step forward until they understand what their customers actually want. And unfortunately, this can often be significantly different from what you think (or hope) they want. Introducing a solution you love, but your customer base won’t or can’t use, is counterproductive – you need to meet them where they’re at. 

When looking at communication channels that consumers prefer, our recent research reveals that email is a key contender, with 39% choosing this compared to the 16% who opted for portals and 13% who prefer post. This result is far from surprising – email has been the default option for businesses and their customers for a long time, with more than half of users holding the same email address for 10 years or longer and an estimated 347 billion messages sent and received each day.

While there may be new digital products entering the market, email still maintains its status as a core comms solution, thanks largely to its ease of use and familiarity. Its continued proliferation is also particularly pivotal for older generations who may struggle with newer technology. Yet, while email is an important piece of the puzzle, we must not forget that, on its own, it cannot paint a true picture of consumer preference.

Our research took the time to break down consumer preference by generation, and while baby boomers were the most likely to want to use email or receive postal communications, we find that 35% of Gen X state that an organisation’s app is their platform of choice, while 15% of Gen Z prefer to use online portals.

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This highlights that communication preference fluctuates across consumers, and businesses must provide a selection of channels for their customer base to choose from. While email may be the solution of choice for many, and should be provided accordingly, it is not the desired outcome for all. Those who fail to implement appropriate communication strategies risk experiencing reduced engagement and a potential loss of customers, as consumers begin to gravitate to businesses that cater to their inclinations. 

Make sustainability a priority 

With the effects of global warming becoming more and more present, many UK consumers have become conscientious about the effect they have on the planet and are making the effort to reduce their carbon footprint. Research from Deloitte has shown that 40% of consumers have started to choose brands that have environmentally sustainable practices or values. While this should be a moral imperative for all, businesses that align themselves with this movement have much to gain in the form of customer loyalty and streamlined operations. 

Currently, three-quarters of surveyed UK businesses have revealed that climate change has become a significant challenge and are concerned about the potential impact it could have in the following decade. Of those who have already laid out plans on how to counteract this threat, key strategies include reducing paper use (63%) and investing in environmentally friendly technologies (32%). This strategy aligns with our own research, with 70% of consumers feeling that businesses should reduce their postal communications to reduce their carbon footprint. 

With every tonne of post generating around 3 tonnes of CO2e, digital comms can be a game changer for businesses that are looking to deliver on ESG promises by reducing their print, pack, and post output. 

Don’t forget about security 

Inevitably, transformation and wider online usage come hand in hand with increased digital threats, as cybercriminals target the large amounts of data now available. More than 800,000 people fall victim to cyberattacks each year, with cybercrime rates drastically increasing since Covid-19. 

However, our research has shown that consumers have a distinct lack of self-awareness over their own digital safety and behaviours, despite having a keen grasp of the need for cybersecurity in day-to-day life. While many consumers believe they can successfully spot and protect against cyber threats online, over ½ state that they have shared personal data over email, and a ¼ have done so with the wrong recipient. However, businesses may have had a hand in encouraging this behaviour, with 73% of consumers revealing that they have been asked by companies to share personal data over email.

Organisations have a responsibility to their customers and should be undertaking the appropriate steps to ensure that their data is safe – especially when communicating online. As we move forward, consumers will have little regard for businesses that fail to implement the appropriate protections and risk compromising their personal information. The ones who will pull ahead and futureproof their business will be those who fully consider consumer preference while balancing climate and security concerns. 


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