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Thirty six percent of respondents said they actually lost customers during the pandemic due to failings in their communications, while a similar number (37%) admitted to communicating at least one message to customers that was badly received and damaged their brand reputation. More than half (54%) of respondents conceded they should have done more to help customers during the crisis.
The study also revealed how the pandemic increased the urgency for digital transformation (DX), with 91% percent of all respondents admitting that changes are now needed for their business to survive in a post-crisis world. Almost three quarters (74%) of decision makers reported that the pandemic exposed more gaps in their business operations and systems than they anticipated. Only 6% reported no gaps in their existing systems during the crisis.
As a result, 62% said they will increase the priority level of DX within their organization, with 58% increasing the speed of existing DX projects and 56% increasing the overall level of DX investment. Seventy one percent said the crisis accelerated their digital projects aimed at better engaging with customers. The top three most popular DX projects needed to prepare for future crises were: cloud-based systems (48%), CRM (41%), and AI-driven analytics and decisioning (37%).
Other findings suggest the COVID-19 experience could have some positive outcomes:
“What this research makes clear is that digital transformation can no longer be seen as a ‘nice to have’ for today’s businesses as they face a radically changed landscape,” said Don Schuerman, CTO and vice president of product marketing, Pegasystems. “Now, it’s become a top priority and organizations are beginning to wake up to the fact that ineffective communication with their customers in uncertain times can do them serious damage.”
“Today’s business leaders find themselves at a crossroads. The question for them is not ‘should I invest in digital transformation?,’ but ‘where do I start and how fast can I make it happen?’” continued Mr. Schuerman. “If today’s organizations are to truly learn the lessons of the current crisis and future proof themselves against mass-scale events, then they need to understand that the customer must be put at the center of everything they do. Unfortunately, for many, it appears that it’s a lesson that may have been learned in the hardest way possible.”