8 Common Digital Labor Myths - Debunked

Over the last few years, I have met with executives in B2B Vendors, distributors and resellers and I have heard many objections as to why they don’t need to act quickly on automating the high touch manual work in their sales process.  Some of these myths that keep companies stuck in "business as usual" are outlined below.

Digital Labor Myths| Digital Worker Myths | Knowledge Work as a Service

MYTH#1 - “Changing  the buying experience won’t really  generate that much growth “

In today’s digital era customer experience is THE key competitive advantage.  According to Gartner, “89% of business leaders believe that customer experience will be the primary basis for competition by 2016 versus 36% four years ago.”  That’s right it’s not the products or services that determines the winner it boils down to how easy you are to do business with.

REALITY:  A company with great products sold in a high friction manner (eg phone sales) to market will lose. 

MYTH#2 - “There is no need to rush.  All of my competitors offer the same experience as I do so this can wait.”

According to Accenture, since 2000, “52% of the Fortune 500 have gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist in large part due to the disruption by digital.”  Pursuing a “we all suck equally” strategy is taking untold risk.  More importantly you should be more worried about the competitors you haven’t encountered.  Digital is allowing an unprecedented number of new competitors to enter markets.  If a “Digital Native”competitor  enters your market they can move ten times faster than you.  They can scale their offering to be 10 or 100 times yours overnight.  In the last century moving slow and not taking risk was acceptable.  But today we are living through unrelenting disruption of every industry.  Gone are the days of spending months on a strategy.  Moore’s law has exponentially accelerated the pace of business – the rate of change is doubling every two years

REALITY:  As I have said before there are only going to be two types of companies – the quick and the dead.  You need to inoculate your business NOW before it’s too late as the 52% of the Fortune 500 in 2000 who ceased to exist due to the disruption from digital found out!

MYTH#3:  “I prefer my customers call me it helps build a relationship”

According to Pace Productivity, “Sales reps not contacted until buyers are 2/3rd of the way though the decision process.”  If you make someone call you they will use digital paths to figure out a solution themselves.  When your customers have the patience of a teenager, talking to a human being is considered an inconvenience not an advantage.  This means that your sales people will only be called AFTER they have figured out WHAT they want. 

REALITY:  You need to build a digital relationship with your customer and influence their choices up front during their research phase by providing digital advisors to solve their problems.  Otherwise they may only call to get a price or worse yet they will never call. 

MYTH#4 - “I don’t need a rules engine or digital advisor to help customers self-serve and build solutions our products are not complex– 

Giving your customers control of the buying process is the jet fuel for growing sales.  It saves them time and it saves you money.  Even if you do something as simple as qualifying your customers online you are improving your probability of a sale and improving the profitability of the sale.  Digitizing the simple qualification questions allows you later streamline everything downstream.  Now you can give sales reps back valuable time – perhaps even double your sales per person with the time savings.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What if you could take 10-15 minutes out of the sales qualification process?
  • How many mistakes/errors are occurring by humans in qualification that cause returns?
  • How much customer loyalty has been lost by making people call on the phone?
  • How much is it worth to have your website be the place customers go to get advisement and solutions based on their requirements?

REALITY:   Providing Customers web based advisement and  qualification improves your probability of a sale and improves the profitability of the sale.

Myth#5:  I don’t need to improve agility or create a digital thread through my back office

Ask yourself –“How many times do you end up transferring a poor customer to make a sale?”  It’s no secret that sales reps are becoming less and less the “trusted advisor”.  Instead they are routing machines.  They route the customer to a technical specialist who may or may be inside the company  or an outsourced resource.  Depending upon the type of solution they customer may have to speak to 2-4 specialists.   They route requests to distributors for availability.  They route requests to vendors for promotions and deal registration.  They route requests internally to create new SKUs.  Customers notice these delays and only buy from companies that provide the most value. 

REALITY:  If you use digital rules and routing engine to route customer requests and opportunities everyone wins.  The customer saves time and gets answers quickly your sales reps stop wasting valuable selling time handling administrative tasks.

Myth#6:  It’s not my job to do “Technology”  This is the job of the CIO or eCommerce

I heard someone say “When people shopped in stores no one said that the customer experience should be led by the construction team”.  IT is not chartered to deal with customer experience but marketing and the line of business is.  Making sure that every customer has a digital advisor and every employee has a digital assistant is the job of the Business Management.  Business Management has the responsibility to create the best possible front office customer experience – which today must be digital.  Business management has the responsibility to make sure that every possible back office activity is accelerated using digital pathways that route transactions based on rules.  The good news is that a Knowledge Work as a Service Platform makes digital transformation as easy as hiring and training a new employee – but you only have to do it once.

REALITY:  Defining and building competitive advantage is the job of the Line of Business not IT.  Today’s competitive advantage is built by 1) crafting the best possible online customer buying experience and 2) building agility by removing the human middleware performing high touch rules based repetitive actions in the back office. 

Myth#7:  Going Digital is too difficult

The good news is that a Knowledge Work as a Service Platform makes digital transformation as easy as hiring and training a new employee – but you only have to do it once.  The platform captures the rules for advising your customers and since it’s a service you don’t have ANY PROGRAMMING.  The platform captures the routing rules for requests and again since it’s a service you don’t have ANY PROGRAMMING.

REALITY:  Knowledge Work as a Service is just that – a service.  It is not a project it is simply capturing what your employees are trained to do today  in a digital format.  It’s more difficult not to do this as you have to hire and retrain people to do mundane tasks when there is turnover.

Myth#8:  I have no budget

Newer technology is being sold “as a Service”.  This means you can find a provider that will build your digital advisors and administrators and you pay by the use.  You should be saving money with every use as digital labor is less expensive than the human or outsourced labor you use today.

REALITY:  Digital Workers and Labor should be purchased as a Service and you pay by use and save money with each use.  You are losing money if you don’t add Digital workers and labor to your team today.  You are losing money if you don’t let your customers transact on your website or digitally transfer to a sales rep. 

Have I forgotten anything? Please let me know at lswanson@exaltsolutions.com.