Optimum customer experience thanks to the digital transformation

Digital is the new standard. Although you could define the concept of digital transformation as a hype, there isn’t an organisation in the world that should allow itself to be deterred by this. The main challenge lies in the ability to adapt to the realities of the digital economy in good  time. LiquidFloors, the innovative specialist in floor coating systems, shows that even SMEs can benefit tremendously from digitalisation. CEO Miguel Garcia and COO Hans Denecker speak about how the digital transformation has changed their organisation.

Putting customer experience centre stage

“What prompted us to get started with digital technology was a desire to heighten the efficiency and scalability of our organisation. We had experienced tremendous growth in a rather short period of time and also wanted to be assured that we will be able to respond flexibly to rapid developments in our branch of industry in the future,” says Hans. “However, the customer journey and customer experience have always been just as important to us, and a guiding factor. In every step of our digital transformation, we focused on creating added value for our customers.”

“If you ask construction people what they would like to see improved, chances are that they will say “planning and follow-up”. These are precisely the areas where we want to make the difference’, he explains. “To a customer, it is not just choosing and buying a new floor that are important. The way in which the entire project is carried out is just as, or even more, important. This is a crucial aspect in customer experience.”

Data-driven value stream

The key aspect of the digital transformation at LiquidFloors is the clearly structured way in which the company maintains its relationship with its customers: from the initial contact to the on-site execution of the project; and from the design, calculation, and planning stage up to and including payment of the invoices.

Hans: “We started by digitising our CRM processes, but we gradually brought together all our business processes on a single data platform, transforming our customer journey into a data-driven value chain. It would be much more difficult to keep track of which documents should be created and when, and which actions should be taken, if we stuck with the traditional way of using Excel, email, telephone calls and post-it notes. At our company, project management ties in seamlessly with the CRM processes.”

Personal service

Not only that, the digital world and reality also converge seamlessly, explains Miguel: “Nowadays, the first thing anybody who is planning to build or renovate will do is to go in search of inspiration online. We aim to use SEO and SEA to guide people to our website as quickly as possible, and therefore it is crucial that the first impression conveyed online is perfect. We aim to inspire visitors with appealing examples of some of the projects we have completed. The website has been built to reply to questions quickly, with a chat function for convenient contact with a sales representative. This substantially lowers the threshold towards setting up an appointment in our showroom.”

He continues: “Once they are in the showroom, visitors will see genuine examples of our floors, and we to take plenty of time to discuss their project with them. We often enter into dialogue with their architects at this stage, too. The surface area in square metres that a customer needs to have covered is less important to us than the added value that this floor will contribute to his life. It is therefore important to assess the colour he wants, and the effect he wishes to create. You can’t get this kind of information by simply looking at a plan. Every meeting we have is very personal and intensive.”

“We try to understand the needs, wishes and preferences of every customer as accurately as possible. All the information we collect during our initial interview is stored for use further on in the process in the form of custom solutions and personalised project follow-up, in which we take all the customer’s personal preferences and wishes into consideration. This can include details such as a preference for email rather than telephone correspondence.’

An ostensible paradox

Collecting data is one thing, but what you do with it is even more important. Miguel: “Because we collect so much information, which is retrieved and used at specific points in the process, it seems as if everyone in the organisation knows the customer personally, throughout all phases of the value chain - and not just the people who have actually spoken to the customer.”

“Not only do we work more efficiently and professionally; our intensive use of the data we have collected allows us to adopt a much more personal approach. Digitalisation is often considered as something that slows down processes and impedes personal contact. But when used in the right way, digital technology and data will enhance relationships and ensure that the follow-up of the entire course of operations, from the initial contact to the delivery of the product, becomes more specific.”

Anticipating new developments

LiquidFloors monitors visitor behaviour to its website and measures the success of specific changes. If these lead to improvement, they are retained. Otherwise, they are reversed. But there is more to it than that, says Hans: “The market is constantly evolving, clients are changing and tastes change. We try to stay ahead of all these developments by adjusting our processes. Digitalisation is therefore not a project you tackle only once; it is a continuous process. Of course, you build the most solid framework possible and continually smooth out any problems you encounter. However, what is more important is that you constantly need to follow the example of those who have gone before or - what we try to do - anticipate new developments. Not every customer is a moving target; your business processes are also subject to continual change.”

One important lesson they say they have learned is that there is no such thing as a ‘one-system-fits-all’ solution. “We started with a standardised solution, but ultimately we developed lots of other solutions from scratch. This is, of course, more expensive, but the added value that such a personalised development brings to our customers and our organisation is many times greater. If you are not presented with a ready-to-use solution, you give more thought to your organisation and your process. You should actually always do this before you start digitalising.”

Clear processes and shared information

That is true,” confirms Miguel. “Digitalisation is necessary, which is why we are all hopping on the digital bandwagon. You can compare this to the way we put far too many apps on our smartphones. If you took enough time to think about what you really need, you’d probably delete half of them. This is no different from organisations that are attempting to digitalise. A great deal of waste is created at the beginning of such digitalisation projects, because you try out a lot of things and then simply leave them in place. A thorough clean-up is crucial because, as I have already mentioned, business processes are always in motion, so careful consideration of your processes and value mapping is an essential first step.”

It therefore makes no sense to start digitalising if the process that you wish to support digitally is not clear. According to Hans, however, sharing information is just as important. “A data platform is useful only if information is entered correctly. Everyone in the organisation has to understand that this is of crucial importance. Our customer journey and our processes are data-driven, but everything depends on the quality of data.”

Change demands leadership

How were they able to get the rest of the organisation behind them? “Change is never easy. We are creatures of habit,” says Miguel with a grin. We are fortunate to have a team of highly capable employees, but even then, change is not easy. People often hold on to what they are familiar with; not because of an innate resistance to change, but because they are afraid to make mistakes. In our case, there is a fear of depersonalising our relationship with our customers. However at our organisation, the opposite has proven to be true. It is precisely because everyone in the organisation understands that this digital support is an intrinsic enabler of our personal service that they are all happy to cooperate. Making sure that your people understand what, how and why: that is what true leadership is - regardless of whether digitalisation is involved.”

Do your homework

Do Miguel and Hans have any tips and tricks for organisations that are thinking about embarking on the rocky road to digital transformation? “We simply cannot repeat this often enough,” says Hans. “The first thing you need to think about is customer experience, the customer journey, and the operating processes that need to support the various aspects of these processes. You have to know what you want to digitalise and why.” Miguel adds: “Digital technology should always serve your customers and your organisation. Digitalisation just for its own sake will simply not work!”

About LiquidFloors
Miguel Garcia founded LiquidFloors in 2008 together with his brother Caëtan. Their ambition: to successfully apply industrial floor coating systems in modern interiors. They developed a new composite and a revolutionary pouring procedure that enables them, contrary to what is generally used in industrial applications, to achieve 100% seamless floors in all possible colours and shapes. This makes LiquidFloors unique in the market. LiquidFloors was conferred the IWT Innovation Award in 2015 for its achievement. Miguel Garcia is an alumnus of the SME Challenge. COO Hans Denecker is an alumnus of our Executive Development Programme

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