Our own Dounia Senawi , US Digital Customer offering leader, updates us on service, sales and customer operations trends and gets personal – discussing her leadership style and passion for running.

Meet Dounia Senawi, leader of Deloitte Digital's US Digital Customer Offering practice. Dounia grew up in a Detroit suburb where her parents—her mother a social worker and her father an entrepreneur— inspired her passions for helping others and solving business problems. She joined Deloitte in 2014 after working in the financial services industry for 14 years. Dounia is well known for leading her team with purpose, partnership, and positivity. She's passionate about running and has completed several ultramarathons. At work and in sport, Dounia understands that you never cross the finish line alone.

We caught up with Dounia recently to learn more about Deloitte's Digital Customer offering, her leadership philosophy, and her next distance challenge.

1.    Tell us more about the Digital Customer offering.

You're a digital customer if you browse, buy, or engage with a company through digital channels. So, when we talk about the digital customer, we're referring to all the digital and human interactions a consumer or business has with your company, from browsing for information to working directly with a sales representative, from placing an order to connecting with a customer service representative. Our digital customer offering embraces all of the important touchpoints. We help companies architect platforms and solutions that spark emotions, create memorable experiences, and build trusting relationships.

2.    How do you help companies connect with the digital customer?

We help companies deliver a seamless digital experience, and we know that building loyalty and earning it is much more than choosing the right technologies. Cultivating a human connection with customers is critical—and to do that, companies need to understand who their customers are, where they go, what they buy. A relationship where one party is oblivious to the most profound moments in the life of another isn't a relationship. Today's customers expect convenience, personalization, and purpose from the brands they trust. Companies that successfully build trust also build value—highly trusted brands were 2x more resilient during the pandemic when uncertainty slowed consumer spending.

We help our clients architect technology to meet those needs. In many cases, we operate it for them too. We bring together the right ecosystem of technologies and pre-built solutions, create experiences through connected customer data, provide an approach to privacy and operations, and help clients deliver personalized, intuitive, in-the-moment experiences. Our work with RBC Wealth Management transformed their day-to-day operations with Salesforce, giving their financial advisors the insights they need at the right moment to build personal, trusted relationships with their customers. For Verizon, we helped them adopt an omnichannel platform to streamline communications with customers across their journey.

3.    As leader of the Digital Customer offering, what trends are having the most impact?

Today, we're seeing customers increasingly engage with companies across many different access points. Including web storefronts, apps, and social media. The lines continue to blur across channels and intensify the need to connect the dots across marketing, sales, service, and support functions. We're leading the way with innovative solutions and research in each of those areas.

For sales organizations, now is the time to take bold moves to deepen their digital presence with customers and partners and apply technology focusing on personalization, speed, and outcomes. Firms taking this approach realize a lower cost of sales and higher revenue growth.

While the front office is often the focus of digital transformation, the middle office provides many opportunities to solidify meaningful customer experiences. It's the heart of the business, where companies deliver on promises made. We’re working to equip companies with the right tools to deliver customer quotes, pricing, renewal experiences, returns, and more in ways that delights customers. Companies shouldn't overlook the employee experience, either—when employees have easy access to the information they need, they are more likely to provide an exceptional customer experience.

For service, our 2021 Global Contact Center Survey identified the trends that contact center leaders are adopting to improve their operations and drive better results for customers. 75% of contact centers plan to move to cloud in the next two years, and 79% plan to invest in AI capabilities, and we'll be right there to help our client transforms contact centers into the human heart of the company.

4.    Where are most companies now in the digital transformation process?

Over the past year and a half, COVID-19 has accelerated changes impacting sales, customer operations, and service. To deliver, companies need to find ways to provide personalized experiences for customers and employees, and to make it happen quickly and seamlessly.

Success requires delivering a distinctive experience at scale, and technology plays a central role in that delivery. Companies are using AI and insights tools to embrace an insight-driven sales model across the client journey; they are also looking at ways to improve the entire lead-to-pay journey – it may be to configure products dynamically, price accurately, generate quotes quickly, and manage sales performance and compensation. As an example, we’ve helped Automobili Lamborghini innovate their digital experience, so the automaker can deliver the right content to the right customer, so they can connect with their cars and experience a sense of “wow” in every moment of their journey.

5.    How would you describe your approach to leadership?

Every day, I aspire to be contagiously positive—I've always found energy from others who approach life with optimism and purpose, and I want to pay it forward. The work we do in the digital customer offering is a team sport, and it requires people with different skills and experiences. I enjoy collaborating with others and taking ownership and action.

Diversity in all its forms is important to me, and a diverse team is a stronger team. We are all better when we can take advantage of each person's strengths and be honest enough with each other to recognize our blind spots. Authentic leadership is about caring deeply, helping others grow, bringing them with you across the finish line — and then getting the same in return.

6.    You're passionate about helping women advance in technology. Why is this important, and how can organizations take steps to develop female talent?

Women wear many different hats at work and beyond—we are professionals, parents, caretakers; we represent different races, cultures, and experiences. As a leader, I never want the pressures of being "always on," juggling caregiving duties and other external concerns, to negatively impact anyone on our team. As individuals and organizations, we are continuously learning what it means to be a good ally, create and support opportunities for growth, recognize inequalities, and reflect, act, and drive change when needed. Over the past year, I believe we’ve grown more connected in our relationships and in our understanding of individual experiences.

7.    So, what's next for you and the digital customer offering?

Organizations are continuing to increase their investments in digital transformations, data/analytics, and AI, and as well as technology platforms and services. While these advances in technology are exciting, the human element is the most important aspect of transformation, and that's where our digital customer offering excels. We recognize that we are all digital customers, and we take an approach that considers products and services from the user’s perspective. Our Digital Mix platform is just one example of this.

We are focused on delivering intuitive, trust-worthy human experiences that help companies earn customer trust, build loyalty, and drive lasting value. And I’m confident our digital customer team will continue to set the pace. Watch this space!

8.    Speaking of setting the pace, what's your next running goal?

Right now, I’m training for two marathons in early 2022 to raise money for two causes that are very close to my heart. My colleague Scott Mager and I are partnering to run the Napa Valley Marathon on March 6, 2022 for our friend Angel Vaccaro’s educational endowment at Carnegie Mellon University. Our goal this year is to raise $20,000 and together we can make a real impact. It's Scott’s first marathon, and I'm so excited we’re running together. I’m also planning to run the Big Sur Marathon in April for my Uncle Steve who passed away of multiple myeloma last year, and I’ll be raising funds for the American Cancer Society. And a little closer to home, my son and I just ran a 5K together and I’m hoping it’s the first of many more to come!

This article is the first in a blog series focused on the digital customer. Stay tuned for more content on sales, service and customer operations.