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How to transform sustainably

By Louis Sheppard | Experience Director

UNRVLD

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March 30, 2022 | 8 min read

Experience director Louis Sheppard explains why adopting a sustainability strategy should lie at the heart of your digital transformation roadmap.

Covid-19 saw companies forced into the depths of Forbes’s ‘Digitise or Die’ movement. With 85% of British people making more sustainable choices since the pandemic, it has never been more urgent for organizations to align their new digital growth plans with their sustainability strategy.

Concerningly, a recent survey by Ricoh Europe found that 71% of business leaders don’t believe digital transformation can help them achieve their long-term sustainability goals.

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UNRVLD is debunking this myth, demonstrating how digital can, in fact, positively intersect with organizations’ sustainability strategies. Our data-driven, digital framework is enabling utilities clients like Biffa, Welsh Water and myenergi to improve operational efficiencies, inform future change, and above all, empower customers to make sustainable choices.

Regardless of the sector, by embedding sustainability into your company’s own digital strategies, you can empower sustainable initiatives amongst employees and customers. So, where should you start?

Getting the ball rolling

A successful sustainable digital strategy comes from a solid foundation, one built to solve future challenges. Often the hardest part in any change program is getting things moving. The ambition may be there, but legacy constraints and capacity challenges can slow things down. Within the utilities sector, for example, there are various legislative requirements to deal with and lots of very technical language that doesn’t resonate with customers.

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UNRVLD’s approach with Biffa recognizes the scale of undertaking a sector-first e-commerce offering. Rather than attempting to tackle transformation as a single effort, we’re building an ongoing plan based around long-term success as opposed to quick wins.

This began with putting the most pressing needs of the customer first, designing user experience prototypes that focused on what was immediately possible, and how this could translate into a better experience for customers.

These prototypes, tested and validated with customers, then helped us to visualize the project goal and create alignment across stakeholders, whilst also providing cut through in debates around technological complexity and scope. By starting with an actionable and lightweight discovery exercise that was able to feed into the business case, it was easier to then open the door to further investment and build momentum.

Don’t just innovate, create a culture of innovation

Once moving, emerging technologies are a critical driver for sustainable change. E-commerce and digital self-serve options not only drive business performance but also significantly improve operational wastage. This is critical to any ambition to achieve sustainability. Investing time and energy in the wrong areas contributes to a company’s footprint and takes valuable resource away from solving more important problems.

Combatting wasted resource is often a specific aim in the self-serve transformation agenda. With a sector-first e-commerce offering, we enable customers to self-serve online and subsequently become less reliant on telesales resource.

The fact remains, no sustainable transformation can be successful without the support and belief of the workforce that is driving it. For digitized processes to be effective, they must not just be adopted and welcomed by customers but also by the employees who implement them on a local level.

It's essential that we foster a culture of innovation among scale field networks as well as centralized HQs to drive transformational change in the long term. We need to ensure that as many parts of the business as possible are given visibility of the design process. This enables all areas to understand the research and rationale that is informing the need for change. This in turn creates a wider sense of a shared mission, rather than something that is being dictated top down. By bringing everyone on-board in a transformation of company culture and behavior, a successful, flexible and agile digital framework is more likely to fall into place.

Keep the customer at the heart

It’s also essential that companies understand that the customer experience is as important as its products and services. Today, customers want to be known and understood by a company that aligns with the causes that they care about. According to Deloitte’s Sustainable Consumer survey, over a third of consumers now look for brands with strong sustainable credentials. To understand their customers better, UNRVLD’s connected technology framework creates a holistic view of their needs to inform their future decisions.

The Martech landscape continues to grow, with the constant release of what seems like a never-ending supply of new tools built to engage and capture audiences. And while new technologies are of course important, it’s essential that data collected from different channels is brought together in an end-to-end journey. This avoids the risk of having data siloed across different platforms, instead, connecting all interactions to create a 360-degree view of each customer. This data-driven approach allows marketers to make informed decisions based on customers' engagements and interactions through analytics and measurements. This enables companies to resonate with the customer rather than expecting the customer to resonate with them.

Companies can then disseminate this research, using personalization and marketing automation to deliver messages to customers that are relevant and timely to their changing demands. This is especially poignant in the conversation around sustainability, giving businesses a better platform from which to become a voice of change amongst their customers. Companies can in turn build long term value from their customers based on shared sustainability goals.

Another area of opportunity for sustainable change is in being able to give customers greater control over their service. With waste services, for example, by engaging customers more deeply with what is happening to their waste and how their decisions translate into real world environmental impacts. This creates better value for the customer and increases retention, but also a space in which additional services, such as recycling, waste segmentation and environmental consultancy, can be proposed. Selling these services of course benefits business performance but also help both supplier and customer meet sustainability targets.

Concluding

The belief that digital transformation and sustainability are not related is a false assumption. However, companies must tread carefully to ensure their digitization process is indeed sustainable for the business, the employees and of course the customers. Building effective environmental solutions into your business model will lead to significant commercial opportunities.

At UNRVLD, we believe the right application of customer-centric thinking and digital technology are central to this. We provide the reach and connectivity between businesses and customers to accelerate the change. By pivoting our clients’ attention to more customer-first products and services, they’re both improving their customer relationships and the bottom line. And by instilling a culture of innovation, we help our clients deliver their own digital transformation projects that solve critical customer pain points with sustainability firmly on the agenda.

Researched by Isabelle Clark, Digital Marketing and Content Executive UNRVLD

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