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The 4 Lessons We’ve Learned About Digital Transformation During the Last 365 Days

Jennifer Bassik VP of Marketing Strategy, DialogTech

This blog was originally published on MediaPost.

Throughout the last year, every industry has accelerated its growth, innovation, and digital transformation to adapt to the ever-evolving pandemic and how it’s impacted our everyday life. In the last 365 days, we’ve all learned business lessons firsthand that might’ve normally taken a decade to experience.

After many unforeseen changes and challenges, here we are. We’re stronger, wiser, and more appreciative than ever of the importance of connection. As I’ve reflected on the takeaways we’ve learned in just one calendar year, I’m in awe of how the digital and phone channels have allowed us to band together, adjust, and support each other.

Here are 4 lessons about agility and digital transformation that every marketer — and truly every business — can take away from the last year.

1. Everyone Got Used to Quick Pivots — But They’re Only Possible When You Invest in Digital Transformation

Pivot should get an honorary mention for the word of the year. When lockdown orders went into place, every industry scrambled to adapt. For businesses that already invested in digital transformation, these “quick” pivots were easier to take on and meet the needs of their consumers. The real lesson here is that these pivots can only be quick if you’re thinking ahead and properly investing in innovation and infrastructure.

And don’t worry about if consumers aren’t ready for something new — they are. From healthcare providers offering more telehealth services to real estate agents providing virtual property tours, patients and consumers have been embracing these new experiences. That’s why it’s so important to invest in digital transformation now, so you can be ready for the next quick pivot. Banner Health’s Chief Digital Marketing Executive Chris Pace has a lot of great insights to share about how their digital planning from a few years ago set them up to adapt for COVID-19.

Another example of a successful quick pivot that comes to mind is how TBS Factoring transitioned from a single office location to a fully remote workforce when COVID-19 first hit. Because TBS works with DialogTech’s call tracking and analytics platform, we were able to help them set up call routing for their 198 remote employees in less than three days. Since they already had invested in a solution that helps them provide seamless experiences, TBS was able to quickly continue to provide unparalleled customer service to their callers during the most difficult of times.

2. There’s Always a Gold Mine in Online-to-Offline Insights

The customer journey has always been circuitous, complex, and lives across online and offline channels — that’s nothing new. But when consumer behavior was dramatically impacted by the pandemic, it was even more vital for businesses to understand and anticipate exactly what their customers needed and how to best help them.

That’s why it’s so important to leverage all of the customer data at your fingertips — like the gold mine of first-party voice-of-the-customer data from inbound phone calls. This data helps you bridge the gap between online and offline behavior, and this became especially valuable as more consumers called businesses during lockdown.

With insights from a conversation intelligence platform, you can understand the caller’s buying intent, product/service interest, stage in the customer journey, concerns and preferences, and more. During the pandemic, we also knew that businesses had new questions about their callers that voice-of-the-customer data could help answer. That’s why we launched a new COVID-19 KPI just days after Illinois’ first lockdown order in March 2020, and a vaccine KPI, rolled out a year later in March 2021.

These KPIs were built specifically to detect when callers mention the virus, the vaccine, and other COVID-19-related terms and visualize that data in a variety of reports and dashboards. With the KPIs, businesses can understand how many people call about the virus and the vaccine, trends over time, trends by location, and more. This was especially critical for marketers seeking to adjust their campaigns on the fly, tailoring their messaging in real time to address important and sometimes vital information about the pandemic.

There are so many lessons you can learn about your customers when you listen and understand their omnichannel journey — so invest in a platform that helps you tap into this treasure trove of data.

3. Look to Digital Innovation as a Way to Fuel Critical Employment Needs

It’s easy to just think about how digital transformation can help you deliver better experiences, help customers, and drive business growth — but it’s also key in helping organizations hire new staff members and grow the job market. As healthcare and senior care verticals are experiencing shifts in resources and a surge in demand, optimizing digital channels helps them drive new employee acquisition of these essential frontline workers.

For example, Comfort Keepers, a leading provider of in-home senior care with over 650 franchisee locations, relies on their marketing team to deliver not just a steady stream of new sales opportunities but also qualified job applicants for caregiver roles. By leveraging DialogTech’s AI-driven insights to make marketing optimizations, Comfort Keepers saw a 14% increase in conversion rates from job applicant calls year-over-year.

4. Above All Else, Connectivity and Community Matters Most

Zooms, FaceTimes, Google Meets: there have been so many ways we’ve digitally spent time together from our own homes. And of course, the phone call has always been a vital way to connect people in conversation — but it took on a new significance as our in-person behavior dramatically changed.

Do you remember calling your loved ones more frequently starting last March? I do — I was calling my family and friends daily to check in on them, to talk about the news, and to get that dose of social interaction. And we’re not alone. There was a striking statistic that the Verizon CEO shared at the end of March 2020. Verizon reported an unprecedented spike in phone calls — they were seeing 800 million calls a day, more than double what they’d ever seen on typically high-volume holidays like Mother’s Day.

The same holds true for calls to businesses — the phone channel is the easiest way to keep up that connection, where customers could ask questions and make purchases safely. It’s no surprise that inbound call volumes to businesses remained high throughout 2020.

There are also non-profit organizations dedicated to fostering community and providing resources over the phone. NAMI Chicago, a chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, reaches 25,000 people each year with a free Helpline, youth and community programming, support groups, outreach. Their Helpline is staffed by clinicians and peers, ready to help people looking for mental health support. And since COVID-19 hit, NAMI Chicago has seen a 300% increase in inbound calls to their Helpline. When we learned about their mission, DialogTech began our partnership with their organization in 2020 and we’re honored to continue our support of their Helpline.

I think this is our biggest lesson: that no matter what, our need for connection is always present. And when organizations make it as easy as possible for us to connect and be in community with one another, digitally and over the phone, that’s a beautiful thing.

Want to learn more about how marketers can unlock insights from their inbound phone calls? Check out our infographic, Why 2021 Must Be the Year of Data-Driven Omnichannel Marketing.

Want to learn how leading marketers connect digital experiences to phone calls? Check out the Forrester report, Connecting Digital to Phone Calls Critical to Marketing Success in 2021.

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