Customer experience can be defined as the quality of all of a consumer’s encounters with a company’s products, services, and brand. While a strong customer experience produces significant results—more customers, more sales, and more loyalty—many companies still struggle to identify a plan of action to achieve these results. This doesn’t have to be the case. Leaders can reach these goals if they focus on something more specific: the digital customer experience.
The Digital Customer Experience (DCX) is the sum of all digital interactions between a customer and a company and the resulting impression that a customer walks away with. To avoid frustrating customers, diminishing their lifetime value, or driving them to competitors due to poor digital experiences, businesses should focus on the following 5 goals for an effective digital experience strategy.
In our recent report, Mapping CX Strategy: The Digital Maturity Model, we examine these 5 goals in depth, with a practical model at hand. In this article, you will find the highlights of the report:
1. Functionality: The usability & accessibility provided in the interaction is critical
In order to maximize functionality, you need to improve usability and accessibility in your user experience. Bad user experience has a profound effect on lifetime customer value. According to Forrester, 61% of U.S. online adults state they are unlikely to return to a website that does not provide a satisfactory experience. Therefore, the user experience you create is your greatest competitive differentiator in the digital age.
A great way to explore functionality is to develop customer journey maps.
Here’s what you need to define while constructing a customer journey map:
User-personas: If you can’t tell a typical user’s story, how will you know if you’ve captured their journey?
A timescale: Customer journeys can take place in a week, a year, a lifetime, etc. Knowing the length of the journey you will measure before you begin is therefore very useful.
A clear understanding of customer touchpoints: What are your customers doing and how?
A clear understanding of the channels in which actions occur: Channels are the places where customers interact with the business, from a mobile app to a registration page.
A plan for “moments of truth”: These are the moments in the customer journey, either the positive interactions that create good feelings for customers or touchpoints where frustrations exist.
It’s fundamental to understand that no matter how ‘pretty’ your design looks, that won’t help you provide a great user experience if you fail at functionality.
2. Omnichannel: With an omnichannel approach, service & experience are cohesive across channels.
In order to create a seamless digital experience, you need to design your program in line with your other channels.
In this digital age, customers are using multiple channels to interact with your brand, so it is imperative to understand and update experiences to ensure a seamless journey across all interactions, from screen to phone call to a brick-and-mortar shop. When you deliver consistent omnichannel user experiences you build trust and improve your reputation.
Here are some important factors to consider when transitioning between channels:
Make sure you know what key functions must be available across all channels and make conscious decisions about what additional functions are necessary on each channel.
Ensure that actions users take using one channel affect all other channels. For example, if a user adds something to a shopping cart or completes a transaction using one channel, every channel needs to reflect that.
Keep the context of your channels in mind when optimizing CX. Various channels may be better suited to different interactions, and the context of the channels may influence customer interactions.
Avoid promoting a single channel. When customers prefer a channel other than the one that you promote, they perceive a poorer experience. You need to ensure your omnichannel CX is channel-neutral and use an integrated approach to allow customers to choose their touchpoints without losing out on features or content. There’s nothing worse than a customer feeling as though they are being penalized for using one channel instead of another.
By reviewing user journeys across multiple channels and ensuring the customer experience is unified, you will have a clear view of your customers. With tools to interact and gain insights on your users, you can continuously improve across all channels.
3. Convenience: Users are able to interact and seek support through digital means with little human interaction.
It comes as no surprise that consumers want to solve their own issues and find their own answers, anytime, anywhere. In fact, 90% of people now expect brands to offer self-service options.
Brands that offer customers a choice of self-service options, while also providing a seamless connected experience when moving between channels, rate the highest in terms of customer satisfaction.
Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, Microsoft
Today, self-service is more common than ever as customers use their smartphones and mobile apps to conveniently access information, make payments, schedule appointments, book travel, and find answers to customer support questions.
The Starbucks mobile app is a great example of self-service delivery. It manages a customer’s loyalty points and lets customers place orders ahead of time so they can skip the in-store lines. Customers love that the app saves them time. In an average week, seven million purchases are made through the app, accounting for 16% of all purchases.
The key to optimizing self-service is to be open to the voice of your customer, as there is no one right way to optimize your self-service experience. Customer input can come through unexpected means, but what’s important is that you are open to all channels and that the customer is the primary driver behind the evolution of your self-service. Customers issues evolve, and new ones gain prominence, so remember:
Flag cases that repeatedly present themselves within assisted service.
Do continuous usability testing or journey-mapping.
4. Personalization: how experiences are unique to the user’s behavior, preferences, and profile.
We’ve all heard about the paradox of choice: a large number of options make it more difficult to make a decision. For customers, a ton of products options turns them away from choosing a suitable product or service. Data from Accenture indicates that customers are getting frustrated with their online experiences. For example, almost half (48%) of consumers have left a brand’s website and purchased somewhere else due to a poorly-curated experience. On the other hand, 91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations.
According to data from Experian, the biggest challenges marketers face regarding personalization is gaining insights quickly enough, having enough data and dealing with inaccurate data.
The growth of AI, machine learning and deep learning technology address this challenge head-on. Companies today have powerful technological capabilities at their fingertips to help them create experiences that focus on individual consumers. For example, systems that use machine learning can produce rich insights into an individual’s wants and needs by aggregating huge amounts of customer data and learning from it in real time. These insights help businesses deliver the kind of personalized and meaningful consumer interactions that become a powerful differentiator for their brand.
Data can allow brands to take personalization to a whole new level using data as the voice of the customer so you can match and tailor digital experiences to customer journeys. This allows marketers to:
Utilize insights and recommendations on industry trends, consumer behavior, and intent signals.
Experiment with new personalized experiences — testing messages through the funnel.
Ensure that content and messages reach the right customer at the right time in the right format and on the right channel.
Personalization and providing content that resonates, engages and delights customers — from the moment they search to the moment they buy to the moment they become loyal customers and advocates — is key.
5. Deliverability: The amount of effort and enjoyment that users perceive when navigating through the experience
The goal of deliverability is for customers to accomplish their goals and feel good about it. Every touchpoint within the customer’s interaction with a product/service is designed to deliver experiences based on the brand’s promise.
Both empathy and friction are two critical agents in achieving deliverability. IDEO’s Human-Centred Design Toolkit defines empathy as a “deep understanding of the problems and realities of the people you are designing for… It involves learning about the difficulties people face, as well as uncovering their latent needs and desires in order to explain their behaviors.” Friction is a metric that impacts customer sentiment significantly. A recent survey uncovered only 11 percent of customers experiencing a complex transaction were likely to purchase a product, versus 68 percent of customers experiencing a low effort transaction.
Here are some points to consider to improve deliverability:
Get to know your users well. Understand their pain points, what pleases them and why they come to your product in order to provide them with delightful experiences.
Consider each customer journey. What is the customer trying to do? Which channels are they using? Create a list of touchpoints, from start to finish, for that customer journey.
Define what friction means to you. Friction is anything that requires effort, induces stress or negative feelings, or slows a process. It’s important that users feel like they can flow through the entirety of your customer journey.
Finally, customer feedback is critical for improving deliverability and needs to be solicited at various stages in the experience, rather than simply at the end of the journey. This will allow you to map the emotional journey of a customer throughout their experience and identify where negative emotions occur.
As Customer Experience begins to claim the title as the key brand differentiator, businesses cannot afford to make the fatal mistake of ignoring the importance of digital customer experience strategies.
Remember, customers do not think of their experiences in digital and non-digital terms. The experience is the sum of all customer experiences a customer has with your brand, company, services, offering, etc. across all possible digital touchpoints and contact moments.
Download the report Mapping CX Strategy: The Digital Maturity Model from Usabilla to learn more about how to design and build your digital customer experience program.