Maintaining human connection during digital transformation

 

UOPX digital transformation emphasizes relationship-focused exchanges and streamlined communication and resources.

3.45 min read

Caregiver holding a senior woman's hands

For the past few years, companies around the world and in many industries have undertaken a digital transformation revolution. The goal is to leverage digital solutions with the right amount of human touch which allows employees to focus on relationships as opposed to transactional interactions.

This transformation can have positive ripple effects across the entire organization. So, it’s no surprise that a 2019 McKinsey Global survey found that more than 80 percent of organizations are in the middle of this revolution. However, it also found that only 16 percent had found success in improving processes and outcomes.

Determining how to be successful can be a tall order, but University of Phoenix leaders heading its digital transformation believe it starts with a focus on the human element.

Digital awareness

To support employees, in July, the University rolled out a suite of resources for their operations staff with a focus on gaining digital awareness and leveraging strategies for an across-the-board understanding of the ways digitizing can transform the student experience. The initiative is part of an upcoming launch of a redesigned service model that embraces chatbots and robotic processes to provide immediate solutions at touch points in specific processes and interactions.

Barbara Schifano, director of learning and development, said that the goal is to create a simple, consistent and reliable experience, where the University’s primarily working adult student population has access and visibility to pertinent information, timelines and updates, and 24/7 support.

“We want to deliver value to our students through effective and disciplined execution and be easy to work with in a way that fits into our students’ busy lives,” Schifano said.

By shifting specific interactions to an automated system, Schifano said that students will benefit from the immediate access to solutions for basic questions and information and human interaction for support on more complex situations.

The initiative involved first gathering feedback from students and employees, asking about a preference for human or technology at specific touchpoints. The University is collecting ongoing employee feedback and holding biweekly meetings as departments, both academic and non-academic, on changes.

To provide a foundational understanding of digital transformation principles, including impacts, risks and ways to advance a digital strategy, operations employees (those closest to the student) are encouraged to participate in a quarterly series of Learning Paths that include LinkedIn Learning courses, TED talks, professional articles and discussion questions. These are provided in a self-paced style, all with the end goal of enhancing the student experience.

 

How COVID-19 is accelerating the pace of digital transformation

Sandip Bhakta, vice president of Student Financial Services, said that the COVID-19 environment has only increased the importance of providing an enhanced service model. People are balancing more in life than ever before, and things can get overwhelming quickly. Interactions with the University should not add to their burden.

Students’ availability doesn’t always align with standard business hours of 9-5. The University is working to ensure that students are able to access information and get the support and help required to address their needs at any time. The goal is to help them alleviate concerns by making the education portion of their lives as easy and simple as possible to navigate.

Bhakta said this is a new space, where many companies are just now entering, there will definitely be learning along the way as we continue to progress with our own digital transformation.

“We have to do our best to anticipate needs, involving students and employees in the design process, gathering feedback and iterating along the way,” Bhakta said. “It’s just as important to keep tabs on the changing digital and tech environment to ensure we are able to keep up and stay a step ahead.”

Bhakta has read about companies who move too quickly on their initiatives and must revert, and others that move too slowly and are left behind. It is a balance that requires intentional implementation on a timeline and perfecting processes as they move through testing before production.

For businesses that are at the beginning of their transformation journey, Bhakta suggests taking the time to identify opportunities and gaps that digital solutions can fill. Focus on those areas first, leveraging learning gained to scale to other areas within the organization.

Customers have likely encountered negative experiences with digital solutions provided by other organizations. “The onus is on us to implement correctly,” Bhakta said. “Address and resolve customer concerns and needs versus merely deflecting them for another day.”