What is the Difference Between Digital Experience and CX?

The relationship between digital experience and CX explained. We break down the role DX plays in CX and why it matters for brands who want to grow in the experience economy.

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Rachel Bodony

March 11, 2020

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While anyone working in customer experience (CX) knows that digital experience (DX) and CX are closely related, I wanted to really understand the intricacies between their relationship.  Most companies use these terms interchangeably, however, DX and CX are worthy of further inspection. While CX is an umbrella term that encompasses DX, DX is a key component of your overall customer experience strategy. 

If CX was a train, DX would be all of the passenger cabins. It’s where all the people are. Customers today interact with brands online all the time. Even so, they want to be able to continue their online conversation with a service representative over the phone. This is the omnichannel world that we live in today. There is no way to survive in today’s competitive environment without offering exceptional experiences at every step of the customer journey-whether in-store, online, or in-app.

The most important perspective: your customer’s 

The ultimate objective of both DX and CX is to improve the customer’s perception of your brand. With that in mind, it’s important to consider a key component to the relationship between DX and CX from the customer’s perspective. Customers don’t think of their experience in digital and non-digital terms. They want to access companies in the most convenient way possible, regardless of channel.

In this way, we can understand the critical role DX plays in a CX strategy. A customer wants to be able to lookup an item online, reserve it in the store, and easily go pick it up at their convenience. 

The customer today doesn’t view each channel with you as a silo. It’s a holistic experience. Therefore, as a CX professional, you need to understand that every channel has to be optimized to delight your customers, no matter where they are. 

The brands creating the strongest experiences understand that all channels in a customer journey impact the experience. Still, there’s more to understand. What role does DX play in CX and why does it matter for brands who want to grow in the experience economy?

What is CX?

Customer experience is how your customers perceive all of their interactions with your brand. Great customer experience means meeting or exceeding the expectations of your customers during all interactions with your company. 

There are many aspects to great customer experience, but at a high level, here’s what it boils down to:

  • Every interaction a customer has with a brand is effortless and frictionless.

  • To provide a great experience, when a brand is engaging with a customer it must project empathy, consideration, respect, and courtesy.

Defining DX

DX encompasses all interactions between an organization and its customers experienced through a digital interface like a computer, smartphone or tablet. For example, whenever a customer uses their laptop to research a product, downloads your app to look for deals, or opens an email from your company, they are interacting with you digitally. 

As customer interactions become primarily digital, the quality of these digital impressions has a defining impact on your overall customer experience. For example, digital issues such as a slow-performing website or recurrent app crashes will negatively influence your conversion rates, customer satisfaction, and brand reputation.

The channel split 

Customer experience involves more experiences, such as in-branch, over the phone, any mass media advertising, receipts, or other face-to-face interactions. Digital customer experience focuses on mediums that are strictly digital.

The digital in CX


DX is vital to the success of your overall customer experience strategy. By improving your digital channels, you inevitably improve your overall CX.

To improve DX, you need to be constantly capturing customer feedback across the digital ecosystem. Capturing customer feedback data helps you understand where pain points arise on the customer journey so you can iterate and improve their experience. 

Some experts recommend focusing primarily on the digital experience. According to HBR, “a good customer experience strategy doesn’t equate to a good digital customer experience strategy.” It goes on to argue that online and offline consumers have different needs and expectations, which is what makes a focus on better DX so important—companies can’t assume that their work to improve customer experience will translate well to digital experiences.

But, this asserts that online and offline are totally separate—which as we know is simply not the reality for most customers. It’s a dance between optimizing traditional CX channels, such as improving call center training and investing in in-store experiences with a specific focus on ensuring the digital experience is improving so customers are satisfied across all channels. 

For example, if your FAQ section on your website is thorough and clear, your customers become self-sufficient in helping themselves solve a problem instead of calling into the call-center. If customers can help themselves based on your FAQ section, it can ease call-center volume so customer service representatives have time to focus on more complicated cases. 

Balancing the two creates consistency in the customer journey and consistency creates customer loyalty.

What makes digital experiences unique?

Speed 

Digital customer experience strategies tend to be more agile and fast moving. If a website loaded in a mobile-browser isn’t phone-friendly, 50% of users will use it less even if they like the business (GoogleThink). Brands are expected to fix bugs and respond to customer feedback in real time, or else face losing valuable customers. Similarly, since there’s so much customer data to be collected through digital channels, CX pros must constantly capture and act on data to make these experiences fluid and simple.

Mobile 

DX includes mobile interfaces which are uniquely designed for speed and ease-of-use. 25% of users in the US exclusively use a mobile device to access the internet. (MarTech Zone). It’s important to optimize both mobile websites and apps while maintaining the same standards you have for your customer service operation. Create that consistency by using the same language, visual branding,  and level of service you provide through in-person channels. For more information on designing mobile experiences, take a read at How to Leverage Feedback for Better Mobile Experiences.

The CX professional & customer feedback solution

As companies compete almost entirely on customer experience, the role of the CX professional is growing across industries. Larger brands have dedicated digital experience teams on top of their existing customer service operations. Smaller organizations are similarly prioritizing digital experiences; often spreading responsibilities across roles and business segments. 

The growing digital experience economy requires companies to onboard strategies, tools and solutions to capture, analyze and act on customer feedback. A customer feedback solution helps brands scale this project, manage and understand data, and put that data into action to meet and exceed the needs of their customers. DX goes hand in hand with third-party-software to help companies bring the voice of the customer to the forefront of their decisions. 

Without constant feedback, it's impossible to keep up with customers changing needs online.

Why is DX so important?

The customer is one, regardless of channels and devices.

However, according to McKinsey, companies with greater digital capabilities were able to convert sales at a rate 2.5 times greater than companies at lower levels did. 

All businesses need to become digital businesses if they want to participate in the current digital economy. Forrester describes the importance of “digitally-based customer experiences rooted in operational excellence,” emphasizing that using digital technology as a basis for all customer experience can drive revenue and growth in most businesses, not just digital-only brands. 

How do you create incredible digital experiences?

Heather Zorn, Director of Alexa Engagement, summed up amazon’s approach to developing—and fixing—experiences: “start from your customers and work backward. Use data when you have it and judgment when you don’t . . . and recognize that you won’t always do the right thing, so you need to have a feedback loop to adapt and grow.” Designing and creating great digital customer experiences requires capturing customer feedback and acting on it in order to create those effortless and frictionless customer experiences.

Take a peek at What Makes Great Digital Experiences? and download the free report, Digital Transformation: Age of the Digital Customer, to learn more about improving digital experiences.

Consistency is key in designing world class CX. You want your digital efforts to complement your overall CX so that customers can seamlessly navigate their journey regardless of the channel. 

Since CX includes DX, having a solid digital experience strategy has become increasingly important, and requires listening and acting on customer feedback. Focusing efforts on improving DX will inevitably improve your overall CX. 

See how GetFeedback can help you exceed customers’ expectations—start your free trial today.

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