Editor’s Note: This guide was written in partnership with Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CEO, founder of Experience Investigators™
There can be a lot of confusion around user experience (UX), digital experience (DX), and customer experience (CX). Essentially, to deliver the best customer experience, it’s imperative to understand and deliver both great digital experiences and user experiences.
Let’s go over the key terms in this space.
Customer Experience, or CX, is the entire experience a customer has with a brand. This includes their interactions, emotions, and perceptions, regardless of the media or channel.
Digital Experience, or DX, is the way a customer interacts with the entirety of the brand’s digital channels, including but not limited to things like mobile devices, online experiences, chatbots, and more.
User experience, or UX, is the sum of interactions a user has with a specific design, i.e., a website, application, or product.
Digital user experience, or digital UX, is the experience a customer or user has with a specific digital touchpoint. This includes interactions with mobile apps, websites, digital tools like kiosks, and more.
Delivering great digital UX has always been important to brands, but even more so now due to COVID-19; companies that were once taking their time with digital transformation are now forced to sprint toward it. In this guide, we’ll dive into four core elements that all brands should apply to their digital user experience plan to succeed.
Introduction to digital UX
Digital user experience is focused on the ease of use, understanding, and emotions of the humans interacting with digital interfaces.
The idea of usability was born from the idea of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and has grown into a broader understanding of how emotions and reactions from humans should impact the future design of digital experiences of all kinds.
There is one common principle for CX, DX, and UX, of course. These experiences are all about the humans interacting with them. Humans are at the center of great design of any of these experiences. So you should always start with understanding your customer.
The digital user experience your customer has can inform your overall CX efforts. Digital UX should aim to meet certain goals, but it’s also an opportunity to listen to customers at specific touchpoints along their journey.
Digital UX should deliver on four key elements:
Intuitiveness: The experience should be intuitive.
Ease of use: Users should complete their task effectively.
Seamless journey: The experience should be integrated with the rest of the user’s digital experience.
Feedback channels: Users can let you know what they think at many points on their digital journey.
Let’s dive into each element starting with intuitive experiences.
Why intuitive experiences matter
Humans have a lot of demands on them at any given moment. Data analytics may make it seem like they are engrossed in the digital experience, moving from place to place on the app like they should, but in reality customers are often multi-tasking. And the more they have to use their brainpower to figure out how to use an app or navigate a site, the less they have to really engage with the great experience you’re trying to provide.
Simply put: your website and app need to be intuitive.
A company that excels at this is Babbel, the language learning application. By reducing everything else for the learner except for the one task or small learning opportunity, learners report more delight and faster results. A recent study by Yale researchers reported a whopping 95% of learners found Babbel as a convenient way to learn a new language.
Babbel’s learning experience begins as soon as the users are onboarding. For example, while the user is setting up an account and agreeing to permission for push notifications, they are also engaging in very quick language lessons. As the app moves the user from one task to the next, the UX is clean, simple, and very straight-forward. The user just has to follow the prompts. The language lesson is cleverly included as a greeting, so when the user sees the friendly message of “Good morning!” they also get to select from a multiple-choice of which translation is correct in the language they’re learning.
This small success is encouraging and helps the customer engage right away. Plus, users are using their brainpower for exactly what they want to–to learn a new language.
It’s tempting to provide all the options a customer has in other channels on mobile sites and apps. But reducing the choices and leaning into the specific goals a customer has creates a more intuitive experience.
Simple switches for better brainpower
When things are complex our brains send signals. They tell us “this is too much work!” and “I don’t have the time to figure this out right now.” This leads to feelings like frustration, annoyance, and disappointment. And those feelings lead to customers abandoning the task they came to do.
Intuitive UX design creates less effort for the user as they move through the interface of the digital touchpoint. There are several ways UX can lend itself to more intuitive design, leading to happier customers who complete their goals with your brand.
Consider the following to make your digital UX intuitive:
What information is the customer required to input? For multiple-input data, like a customer’s address, is it possible to reduce the fields required? Instead of asking for the street address, city, state and zip code in separate, distinct fields, offer the customer a single field to complete their address. While there may be back-end limitations in some data scenarios, many times this is set up this way just because “it’s always been that way.” Reducing the amount of reading and thinking the user has is a way to improve the intuitive nature of the experience.
Avoid overly saturated, bright colors. Our eyes and brain then have to focus on the color, instead of the goal.
The most intuitive experiences are designed by understanding exactly what the experience is for the customer. Small enhancements like proactively offering a numeric keyboard when required, saves a step for the customer and reduces their cognitive load.
How do you know what’s working?
There are several ways to understand if your digital UX is intuitive enough for customers.
1. Behavioral analytics
How long are customers taking to achieve their goal on the app or site? Are they moving off the path to look for help or support?
Analytics can be set up to track the Goal Completion Rate (GCR) for specific journeys. For example, if most customers use the app to order for curbside pickup, the data can tell you how many customers start on that process and complete the order versus those who don’t.
The GCR can be calculated by taking the number of users who complete the stated goal and dividing that by the total number of users who started the steps to achieve that goal. So if 100 users start the process to set up an account, but only 30 complete that goal, the GCR is 30%.
Those clues can tell you where customers are frustrated with the steps in the process.
2. Customer support data
Are customers giving up on the digital UX and calling the contact center? These types of “How do I do this?” calls can often seem like they are all simple issues like “login help” or “issues with the app.”
Watch how these inquiries are categorized at the contact center level, and talk to agents about what they’re really hearing. If a new digital experience launches, watch for spikes in regular digital issues for customers.
3. Simple surveys
Thanks to customer feedback solutions, it’s possible to ask the customer how they felt about the interaction right as or after it happens. Using surveys to gather Goal Completion Rate (GCR) is a great way to both gather feedback at the right moment and show the customer you’re listening.
Surveys can include simple questions like “Did you reach your goal today?” Then offer the customer options and space to share. A multiple-choice of Yes/No/Partially (or Not Quite!) with an open-ended field allows customers to tell you exactly what went well or didn’t.
(Image: Usabilla Goal Completion Rate (GCR) survey with open-ended field)
Customer feedback that includes expressions like “I couldn’t find” or “I can’t figure out” tell you there’s work to be done on creating a more intuitive digital UX.
For more, check out our free UX metrics guide.
Support effective task completion
Experiences are designed by humans, and these humans have wonderful intentions, such as improving the way customers can access information, order products, sign up for events, and more. These digital experiences require input and effort from customers, but the stated goal is to reduce this effort along the customer’s journey.
It should be a simple thing to know. Is the digital UX providing a seamless, easy experience for the customer to achieve their goal?
But it’s hardly a yes or no question. To get to that answer, you must understand the goal and the actual journey.
Step 1: Define the customer’s goal
Customers travel through digital touchpoints for many reasons, but each customer believes their reason is the obvious one.
It’s difficult to design great experiences if there isn’t alignment on what the customer’s goal is. For example, a customer might arrive at the website to shop and order products. Another customer might go to the same site for resources like training or on-demand events.
What journey are you designing? The short answer, of course, is both. But prioritizing user goals can help establish a better way to design, measure, and improve the experience.
Step 2: Look to online traffic for answers
Users don’t just show up to your digital channels for fun. They often land there because they are seeking a solution. They seek out the answer by searching online, visiting forums, participating in social media or clicking on intriguing ads.
Search analytics can often shed light on what those queries are from users who could be the next customer. Social media comments and user group discussions are also good resources for understanding what customers are trying to accomplish.
Brands who track this data can often see patterns to help even further. In some industries, for example, search engine queries are more indicative of purchases than social media comments. The only way to understand the goal of customers is to understand what drove them to that digital touchpoint in the first place.
Step 3: Measure the customer’s success
How do you define successfully achieving a goal? Better yet, how do your customers define success?
Let’s say the goal is defined as “returning a purchase.” The customer might start on the mobile site, but get frustrated with the amount of steps. They might not know how to print a label from their phone, so they move to their laptop to complete the goal.
A survey focused on Goal Completion Rate (GCR) at both the mobile and desktop experience could help the customer describe what is really going on. The customer needs that option to say they “partially” completed the goal in both places, along with an open-ended field to share the details.
(Image: Usabilla Goal Completion Rate (GCR) survey)
This type of data provides insights for both the UX and the CX teams. Know what frustrates and challenges customers, then design for better outcomes for them. In this example, the digital UX might need a more intuitive design around this goal. But customer education around exactly how to print from a mobile device might resolve a lot of the frustration.
To measure if these improvements are serving customers as hoped, teams can measure not just GCR but also Customer Effort Score, or CES. This metric is used to determine if customers feel they are putting in too much effort to achieve their goal.
The CES survey asks customers to rate the amount of effort it took to accomplish their goal. It might ask, “How easy was it for you to accomplish your goal today?” You can also include an open-ended follow-up question that asks for feedback on the response. The respondent can choose from 7 answer choices ranging from strongly disagree (score 1) to strongly agree (score 7).
(Image: Usabilla Customer Effort Score (CES) slide-out survey)
To calculate the CES, find the average of all responses. Use the total sum of responses, then divide by the total number of survey respondents. The equation: (Total sum of responses) ÷ (Number of responses) = CES score.
The Goal Completion Rate and the Customer Effort Score can tell a story of where your customers are achieving what they need, but at the cost of their effort and frustration. Understanding and reviewing both metrics paint a more comprehensive picture of the digital UX and how customers are being served.
Customers rely on digital experiences to get something done effectively. Measure the successful outcomes for customers along with their responses to the experience. Then keep improving!
Your customer has one journey
It’s one thing to measure the intuitive digital UX and the way all users complete tasks. But your customer has one goal: theirs. And they have one journey: theirs.
Customers with different experiences, background and brand engagement will experience things differently. But they all want a personalized experience when dealing with a brand. In fact, 80% expect and reward personalization with loyalty. And 82% expect technology to improve CX, according to Acquia’s global survey on the state of customer experience.
Customers expect their personal information to “keep up” along their journey. Brands should know their history and most recent interactions.
That is hard to do if data isn’t integrated. Digital UX should feel seamless and integrated to the customer, and the best experiences look for ways to integrate in many ways along the journey.
Metrics can lead to better customer experiences
Many brands rely on measuring Net Promoter Score (NPS) to track how customers feel about their relationship with the overall brand.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) asks the question: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”
The respondent ranks their likelihood on a scale of 0 to 10—0 being highly unlikely, 10 being extremely likely. You can also add an option for the respondent to leave a comment and explain their rating. On the rating system, people who select 9 or 10 on the NPS survey are considered Promoters, people who select 7 or 8 are Passives, and people who select 6 or below are Detractors.
To calculate the NPS score, you subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters ( percent Promoters – percent Detractors = NPS).
(Image: How to calculate Net Promoter Score (NPS))
Knowing who your promoters and detractors are can help sift through the feedback they give you. Integration of measurement data could help identify how to serve more customers.
For example, if the site recognized the user as a Promoter, the feedback request could be customized to them. This might be the perfect time to share more information about a loyalty program or requesting they join your user forum. If a Detractor is detected, that question might be more prompting around the open-ended question of why or why not, and offer more explanation on how the feedback is used to improve the experience.
(Image: Usabilla post-purchase survey with Net Promoter Score (NPS) rating question)
Integrate to Individualize
This type of customized survey presentation could also help brands understand how to serve specific customer segments.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed shopper behavior dramatically. In fact, 43% believe the way they shop will change over the next few years, according to research conducted by EY. Many customers who had never turned to digital experiences were suddenly looking for ways to make purchases via apps and websites.
Serving up custom help options to customers who are identified as new users of the site is a great way to integrate both the experience and the backend data. An older customer who has no history of app usage might appreciate intuitive help in the app. If their history shows healthy engagement with email in the past, the automated response might include an email to ensure they have the information in the way they want it. The key is to stay focused on the customer. What integrations are needed to provide them the best experience?
All of these improvements and experiments within the customer journey can be measured with both formal and informal mechanisms. Formally, a survey tracking Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) could identify which improvements were well received. Integrating that survey feedback with specific customer data provides a robust foundation for the next round of improvements.
The Customer Satisfaction Score is assessed by asking customers: “How would you rate your overall satisfaction?” with your company and its products, services, and interactions. A five-point scale is most commonly used, with options very unsatisfied, unsatisfied, neutral, satisfied, and very satisfied.
(Image: Usabilla Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey with open-text field, optional email address capture, and Net Promoter Score (NPS) question)
There are two ways companies can calculate CSAT: an average of 1-5 or by focusing on the 4-5 responses. GetFeedback recommends using this formula: (Number of 4 and 5 responses) / (Number of total responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers.
Reviewing CSAT and NPS is helpful to understand the digital touchpoints and the overall customer experience. If CSAT is used at specific points along the journey, any shifts in NPS could be correlated to how important those moments are to the customer. If an error message is incorrect but the customer still achieves their goal, they might report that as a poor CSAT for that experience. But they would remain happy with the overall brand. But if the customer can’t make a planned purchase because of a confusing purchase experience on the app, then that might be enough to decrease their overall feeling about the brand.
NPS and CSAT can complement each other well, especially if data integration allows for really knowing the customer and their needs.
For more on this topic, see Customer Journey Mapping: Examples and Free Templates.
Digital UX needs feedback fuel
In an ideal world, digital feedback would be collected, reviewed, reported and acted on in real-time. Teams would be deployed to not only address the issues in the customer journey, but also to report back to the individual customers who had shared their experiences.
While automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and robust data analytics platforms certainly help brands gather and respond to feedback, humans are still required to make it all work. There are several ways to measure how successful the digital UX is, and whether it’s delighting customers or not.
Like all metrics, it’s important to start with the business goals, then work from there. If the business goal is to increase customer retention by 5%, then customer happiness is a key factor. Happier customers are more likely to stay with the brand for a longer period of time. (They also spend more money and recommend the brand to others!)
Knowing customer happiness is important, there are several points along the digital journey that allow for specific metrics to track that sentiment.
As outlined in this guide, there are specific ways to measure Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) within the digital experience. Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Goal Completion Rate (GCR) can also be used to understand customer sentiment. For more on the key digital UX metrics, check out the top UX metrics you should be using.
Search data, both within the branded digital experience and overall general search queries, can highlight what problems customers are looking to solve. If the digital experience isn’t delivering, their happiness is at risk!
User error rate tracks how many errors a customer encounters on the way to a goal. These are obstacles to completing their goal, and show how vexing the experience was for the customer.
A/B testing can provide real-time data on customer preferences. These tests are designed to compare specific improvements along the digital journey.
User-reported bugs are often overlooked as a customer metric. But the frequency and amount of bugs reported by users is a great thing to track along the digital journey. Click here for a complete guide on bug tracking.
Leaders should consider the overall business goals, the overall customer goals, and understand the customer journey enough to find the best places to gather feedback.
Digital UX is customer experience
There are still silos in many organizations. Digital experience is handled by one team, while customer insights are handled by another. And customer service might be a whole other group.
But great customer experiences are built around the customer, regardless of the channel or org chart. Within great CX, there are many opportunities for great digital experiences and thoughtful, user-centric digital user experiences.
Is your brand ready to design, measure and act on what customers tell you?
Your customers want to tell you:
My experience should be intuitive.
I should complete my task effectively.
This experience should be integrated with the rest of my digital experience.
I can let you know what I think at many points on my journey.
Let the four elements of digital UX guide you.
Improve your digital user experience today—click here to learn how.