You are convinced that Digital Advice could bring incredible benefits to your company’s digital strategy, and now you want to get your company leaders on board with your idea? You recognize the potential of educating, guiding and advising visitors, so why wouldn’t everyone else?
Should be easy, right?
Well, the truth is that most companies are slow to adopt new technology, even if it has the potential to carve out a competitive advantage. According to Cisco, 78% of ICT (Information and communications technology) decision makers say that keeping up with technological trends is vital, but only a few companies implement new tech within their own business.
One of the main reasons why companies do not keep up is the inability to recognize opportunities provided by the new technology.
So, if you want to use Digital Advice to amplify your customer engagement and customer service strategy, you need to prepare to communicate the true value of such an initiative.
In what follows, I’ll share my six best practice steps to effectively present the benefits of Digital Advice to the stakeholders within your company:
Step 1: Identify the Business Value
The best way to win approval for a new technology investment is to show how it solves an existing challenge or contributes to a business goal. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of what business goals Digital Advice can help to achieve. Here are the three most common benefits of Digital Advice:
1) Increase Awareness and Engagement
Through personalized, interactive quizzes, you can educate shoppers and buyers and position yourself as the go-to authority on a subject. This allows for the seamless moving of visitors from the influential awareness stage to the consideration and purchase stages.
Example: Swisscom uses its Digital Transformation “Quick Check” to help companies assess their digital maturity. The interactive quiz only takes a couple of minutes and is more appealing than a standard questionnaire. This helps Swisscom to engage its B2B audience and generate educated, qualified and sales-ready leads.
2) Improve Purchase Confidence, Conversion, and Loyalty
By integrating interactive digital advisors that guide visitors and help them to choose the most suitable products and solutions, you can reduce bounce rates, increase conversion and reduce product returns.
Offering a needs-focused approach to selling, digital advisors explain why a solution or product is a right choice, increasing decision confidence, and boosting the chances of conversion.
Example: Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system can run on countless devices. This makes choosing the right one virtually an impossible task for shoppers. To alleviate the confusion associated with selecting a new computer, Microsoft uses its PC Selector to ask shoppers a few questions to understand their needs and recommend the most suitable options. That’s choosing made easy. For the customer, it feels as though they are choosing a product that’s been tailor-made for them, and for Microsoft, it’s increasing the chances of conversion.
3) Enhance Customer Self-Service
Self-service solutions in the form of Guided Troubleshooting or Self-Service Advisors are no longer only a vehicle to improve the efficiency of your customer service team and minimize customer care costs. Today’s shoppers expect self-service options. They have become a key ingredient to facilitating a positive customer experience.
Example: Toshiba‘s Troubleshooting Assistant is a quicker and more convenient way for customers to identify and resolve issues on their own, without having to speak to an agent if they don’t want to.
Step 2: Get Allies On Board
Digital Advice projects seldomly live in a vacuum. They overlap with other departments and stakeholders that you need to get on board with your idea, such as CMO, the CIO, the CFO, and procurement. According to CEB (now Gartner), on average, there are 5.4 people involved in B2B technology buying decisions, and they all have diverse priorities.
Identify their challenges and needs to understand how a Digital Advice strategy could make their work easier. Communicate your idea, the benefits and projected change early and often to educate your colleagues and help them see their shared interests. For example, Digital Advice solutions can be used across departments to fulfill many purposes, from marketing and commerce to customer service.
Communicating with and involving many different stakeholders may sound like a lot of work at first, but it will ensure smooth and effective implementation, alignment and execution in the long run.
Step 3: Do Your “Googles”
A well-informed pitch is an effective pitch. If you want to convince others that Digital Advice is an absolute necessity, you need to gather all available information to become a bona fide expert within the field.
- Perform careful research to ensure that you understand the technology, its opportunities, and its limitations to set realistic expectations
- Understand how Digital Advice contributes to achieving your business goals and be prepared to explain why
- If you can get your hands on a free trial, go for it and test the waters
- Explore how direct competitors are using Digital Advice solutions
- Take the time to examine third-party reviews, white papers, case studies, and testimonials – particularly those connected to your industry.
To help you get started, here are some articles and resources:
Benefits of Digital Advice:
- What is Guided Selling and How Does It Work?
- How Guided Selling Supports the Shopping Decision-making Process
- 5 Signs You Should Invest and Jump into Guided Selling
- Help Me Help Myself Or I’m Out – Millennials and Gen Z Expect You to Have A Good Self-Service Strategy
- Digitize Your Customer Service to Improve Customer Experience
- Self-service: Meet the Demands of the Re-wired Shopper
- How To Reduce Return Rates with A Digital Advisor
Digital Advice by Industries:
- B2B: B2B Guided Selling: Accelerate and Increase B2B Sales
- Retail: Why Choice Overload Hurts Your Sales And What You Can Do About It
- Manufacturer: 5 Reasons Why Brands Should Take Advantage of Guided Selling
- Telecommunications: Why Does Choosing a Mobile Plan Have to Be So Complicated?
- Banking & Financial Services: Surviving and Thriving in The Financial Service Industry
- Automotive Industry: Digital Advice to Solve Major Challenges in Automotive Industry
- Beauty industry: Digital Technologies in the Beauty Sector
Building, optimizing, and promoting digital advisors:
- Should You Build or Buy a Guided Selling Solution?
- The Anatomy of a Great Digital Advisor
- How to Create Digital Advisors that Work
- 9 Pro Tips to Design Useful Digital Advisors
- How to Create a Great Interactive Gift Finder
- Integrating Guided Selling in the Customer Journey
Step 4: Collect the Evidence
Being confident that Digital Advice can enhance your customer experience is only one side of the coin. You should also get the numbers – the hard facts to back up your claims.
Collect evidence to support that and show how other companies are already successful with Digital Advice. Look up relevant case studies – you can find some here: https://smartassistant.com/resources.
Here are some interesting stats:
- If a brand makes the purchase decision easier, consumers are 9% more likely to repurchase and 115% more likely to recommend it to others (source: HBR).
- Companies with Digital Advice strategies report a 30-70% uplift in conversions (source: SMARTASSISTANT)
- Digital advice solutions can lead to a 20% increase in sales and a 10% decrease in product returns (source: SMARTASSISTANT).
- Consumers expect 24/7 advice, guidance, information and issue resolutions (source: Forrester)
- 83% of online shoppers need support in decision-making to complete a purchase (source: Econsultancy)
- 40% of approximately 3,000 consumers prefer self-service to human contact for their future dealings with companies. 70% expect a company website to include a self-service application (source: The Real Self-Service Economy)
- 74% of online consumers get frustrated with websites that offer content which doesn’t directly relate to their needs and interests (source: Adobe CMO)
- 61% of shoppers consider being able to quickly find what they like and want the key purchase factor (source: SMARTASSISTANT)
Step 5: Don’t Pitch an Idea, Pitch a Plan
Use all the information gathered so far to map out a clear plan of action. It should contain:
- Identified potential risks and gains
- Basic ROI calculation to measure the effectiveness of your Digital Advice initiatives
- Initial timeline and roll-out plan including promotional tactics
- Required resources and costs to be successful
Make sure that you’re “showing” and not “telling”. Executives want to see that a Digital Advice initiative will generate tangible benefits. You may have to demonstrate the best practice cases from other organizations to show how Digital Advice has improved their business.
Here’s an extensive list of live examples of digital advisors in different industries and product categories that you can use as examples.
Step 6: Prepare to Handle Possible Objections
Be prepared for your boss to have objections or concerns, and that your plans may be met with some skepticism. Any leader worth their salt will challenge your ideas to make sure they stand up to scrutiny.
Consider what objections might your boss have and how you can handle those objections effectively in order to portray the most important and applicable benefits of Digital Advice?
Here are some common objections you must be prepared to tackle:
Objection 1: “But, we can build our own digital advisor”
Your boss may argue that you can build a digital advisor in-house, rather than invest in a more mature technology. While this does allow you to design your advisor according to complex specifications, designing and hard-coding a solution from scratch requires some serious time and financial investment and increases maintenance requirements substantially.
In fact, one study by the Standish Group suggests that the success rate of software development projects can be as low as 29%, with a 2% drop depending on project size. Opting for an already-established Digital Advice technology platform gives you access to multiple features out-of-the-box, as well as the expertise and foresight required to build a scalable solution for your growing company.
Download the full Build or Buy Guide from SMARTASSISTANT. It explains why building hard-coded solutions from scratch is not the best approach for most companies:
Objection 2: “But we don’t have enough resources (staffing, time, money etc).”
Opting for a software-as-a-service solution minimizes risk and complexity, keeping the strain off your IT team. Moreover, because enhancements roll out automatically, managing intelligent advisors doesn’t have to be a chore.
- We don’t have staffing: A digital technology platform is less expensive than one-off development projects and offers many out-of-the-box functionalities.
- We don’t have the budget: Digital Advice solutions touch on many different aspects of a business, from Marketing, Sales, Customer Service to IT teams. Often, there is no single line item in a budget for Digital Advice. But, you can combine budgets to come up with the room to implement a solution that assists several business teams in reaching their goals.
- We don’t have enough time: The average time-to-market can be anything from a few days to six weeks onwards, depending on the complexity of your project. Using a mature Digital Advice platform can help to speed up implementation.
Objection 3: “But we have other priorities.”
For all my clients, Digital Advice is a strategic decision. It’s not a gimmick, but a crucial element in the customer engagement strategy of customer-centric companies. Just think about what your business would lose if you do not move forward and amplify the customer experience.
By not integrating Digital Advice, you might miss opportunities to support visitors in the middle of the funnel who need better advice and guidance to make confident purchase decisions. The purpose of today’s businesses is no longer only about providing options, it’s about providing the right options to the right customer. Digital Advice is the most effective way to do that.
To help you prepare your pitch, download our 6-Step Program to Achieving Success with your Digital Advice Initiative
Making Your Pitch a Success
Digital Advice is the next step in delivering the customized and personal experiences craved by today’s consumers. It makes choosing the most suitable product hassle-free for all types of shoppers and improves the experience they have with your business.
Not only do Digital Advice initiatives improve sales effectiveness, but they also showcase the right products and services to educate shoppers, and give them the information they need to make more informed decisions.
Several companies have successfully integrated Digital Advice and are performing better in their key business objectives as a result. It’s important to make sure that internal obstacles don’t stop your company from joining the digital transformation race and achieving better results.
Contact me if you need assistance in any of the steps laid out above. I’m happy to share my experience.
Image: Harry Wormwood, portrayed by Danny DeVito in the film version of Matilda. Photograph: Moviestore/REX_Shutterstock