When it comes to creating the ultimate digital customer experience, no business is complete without a solid online presence. In fact, 65% of consumers said their experience on a website or app is "very important" in their decision to recommend a brand.
But, in today’s world, it's not enough to simply launch a site and call it a day. You need to create a digital customer experience that's engaging, user-friendly, and delightful for your audience.
Not sure where to start? Consider this your guide to all things digital customer experience. Read ahead to learn more about what it is, why it matters, and how you can apply it to your business.
Plus, check out some of the digital customer experience trends your team should be considering in 2022.
What is digital customer experience?
Digital customer experience, or digital CX, refers to the total online interactions a customer has with your brand. Most interactions take place on your website or app. But channels like social media, email, and live chat also play a role in how customers connect with your brand online.
The Importance of a Good Digital Customer Experience Strategy
In today’s virtual age, digital CX touchpoints — like chatbots and online forms — are playing a larger role in how companies are perceived by customers.
It’s become increasingly important to create a delightful online experience with your product or service. Especially one that meets the needs and expectations of your target audience.
For example, new leads should be able to easily navigate through the content on your website and understand why they should purchase from you. And, returning customers should have access to customer success and support features that are built right into your app’s user interface.
In addition to reaching consumers where they are in the customer journey, a seamless digital experience is crucial when it comes to customer satisfaction.
In a recent survey, FullStory found that 74% of customers expect companies to use existing technologies in new ways to create better experiences. And 75% of customers expect optimal experiences through the use of new technologies, too.
A good digital CX strategy can help you do just that.
It allows you to anticipate and map out how users move across your online channels. Plus, good digital CX facilitates a cohesive experience that nurtures customers through every stage of your flywheel.
As part of HubSpot’s “Gain Grow Retain” podcast series, Gainsight Customer Success Evangelist Dan Steinman joined the show to discuss digital customer success.
Listen below to hear Steinman discuss the importance of digital CX for your business.
Digital Customer Experience vs. Customer Experience
Digital customer experience is a key component of customer experience.
We know that customer experience, or CX, is the impression you’ve left on your customers throughout their entire journey with your brand. CX is a combination of the interactions customers have with both your people and your products.
Think of digital CX as the online arm of your company’s CX strategy. It’s the digital mediums your customers use to interact with those people and products. And, the perception they take away based on their experience.
Now that we've introduced you to the concept of digital customer experience, let's review some best practices you can use to optimize digital CX at your company.
Digital Customer Experience Best Practices
- Know your audience.
- Create an omni-channel customer experience.
- Pay attention to mobile experiences.
- Adopt analytics.
- Collect customer feedback.
- Conduct user testing.
- Be future-minded.
1. Know your audience.
Before you can create a digital experience that your customers will love, you have to know who they are.
Buyer personas are a great way to understand who is buying your product — and why. Personas make it easier to tailor your digital CX strategy to meet the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
You should also think about the customer journey. For example, when a lead visits your website or app, what goal are they hoping to accomplish? Mapping out the customer journey can help you determine which digital touchpoints are most important for your customers.
2. Create an omni-channel customer experience.
Omni-channel experiences generate customer delight because they provide more communication options to customers. People can engage with a business on a medium that they're comfortable using and aren't forced to work on an interface that they're unfamiliar with.
As shown in the graphic below, the key differences between a multi-channel and omni-channel strategy are: data syncing and CX continuity.
The more channels you support, the happier your customers are. And, they're more likely to buy from your company again. But it’s not enough to simply exist on multiple channels.
Omni-channel CX makes sure those channels are speaking to each other. Plus, an omni-channel strategy ensures that you’re creating a consistent experience for your customers.
When you engage customers on the mediums they're already using — and create a seamless experience between those mediums — it’s much easier for users to interact with your content.
3. Pay attention to mobile experiences.
Whether you have a detailed website or a handy app, it's important to focus on the mobile experience. After all, over 90% of the global internet population uses a mobile device to go online.
That's because smartphones allow customers to compare companies while they shop. They can see how your brand stacks up against your competitors before they make a purchase. If your website or app doesn't seem to fit their needs, chances are your products won't either.
When designing your digital customer experience, make sure it's mobile responsive. That means when it's displayed on a tablet or phone, the interface automatically adjusts to the smaller screen. This dramatically affects the user experience and makes it much easier to navigate through your content.
4. Adopt analytics.
Like any other part of your business, you should be actively looking for new ways to improve your digital strategy. Fortunately, that's easier to do if you have reporting tools that monitor your digital customer experience.
For example, there’s software available, such as Google Analytics and Apple’s App Analytics, to track the features and pages that customers use most and help your team identify points of friction within the app or website.
You can pinpoint where leads are abandoning purchases and can work proactively to prevent churn. Or, for returning customers, you can review their favorite tools and adjust your page navigation so they're easier to find when users revisit your site.
Outside of your website or app, you can also measure other aspects of your digital CX. If you use email, you can identify ways to better personalize your outreach approach to improve open rates. Or, if your brand is on social media, you can monitor brand sentiment and track engagement to further optimize your content.
Having insight into how customers are engaging with your offers helps your team effectively refine your digital CX strategy.
5. Collect customer feedback.
Another way you can gather information is by asking customers for their feedback. Have them fill out a survey after using your website or app and ask them if they would recommend it to their peers.
You can use a Net Promoter Score, or NPS, survey to gather both qualitative and quantitative data on your digital customer experience. This should give you a good idea of how customers are reacting to your content.
Sample survey questions may include:
- On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?
- Which product/service features do you value and use the most?
- How can we improve your experience on our app?
6. Conduct user testing.
User testing is another way to determine how much customers enjoy using your digital properties.
In this environment, a select group of customers is asked to test your product. Then, they provide feedback on specific aspects of the user experience.
This gives you the chance to tweak your website or app before releasing it to the rest of your customer base.
While there are a few different types of user tests, the most popular one is usability testing. Usability tests assess how easy it is to use and navigate your product. Participants are asked to perform a simple task. Then, they're evaluated on their ability to complete it.
This shows your development team how user-friendly your website or app is.
7. Be future-minded.
The digital world is changing fast. So, your strategy needs to adapt, too. Your digital CX strategy in 2022 may look a lot different when next year rolls around.
As technology advances, new trends will continue to emerge and influence customer perception. Pay close attention to those trends and be prepared to evolve what digital CX looks like for your business.
Speaking of trends, let's review a few digital trends that businesses are following in 2022.
Digital Customer Experience Trends
- Improvements in AI
- Increased Number of Chatbots
- Enhanced Self-Service Capabilities
- More Focus on Predictive Analytics
- New Augmented Reality Tools
- Personalized Customer Experiences
- Emphasis on Data Security and Privacy
1. Improvements in AI
When we think of artificial intelligence (AI), we often think of sentient robots that mimic human actions and conversations. While these are fun, sci-fi villains, they aren't accurate representations of how AI is used in modern business.
Most AI is used to automate business functions and personalize experiences for the customer. For example, AI is often programmed into email newsletters when companies want to send messages to their entire customer base, but want the emails to seem genuine and sincere.
So, they use AI to pull data from the CRM and personalize the message with the customer's information. This makes the email look and feel like it was written specifically for that person.
As AI continues to improve, you should expect more features like these to appear in your marketplace. Customers crave personalized experiences and AI is the perfect tool for delivering users exactly what they want and need in a digital landscape.
2. Increased Number of Chatbots
Chatbots are no longer a novelty that businesses used to show customers that they're trendy and keeping up with the latest technology.
In the past, bots were very limited and could only perform a predetermined series of actions. This made for dull customer experiences that didn't always end with the customer getting what they wanted.
Now, Juniper Research predicts that 75% of inquiries will be resolved by chatbots in 2022. This significantly reduces the pressure placed on customer support teams.
With bots, support agents can refocus their time and energy on more complex or time-sensitive cases that are more likely to result in customer churn. In fact, chatbots are predicted to save businesses 2.5 billion hours by 2023.
Check out this quick video guide on how to use chatbots for your business.
3. Enhanced Self-Service Capabilities
Customers don’t want to wait long (or at all) for support if they don’t have to. More companies are focused on finding ways to help customers help themselves, quickly.
In addition to chatbots, this may include:
- Knowledge bases: A searchable database customers can use to find resources about your products and answers to FAQs. This makes the information-seeking process faster for customers. Plus, it releases some of the burden on your customer service team.
- Workflow automation: The act of setting up self-operating processes that run manual tasks, and save time and resources. For example, a customer requests a return on your website. An email is automatically triggered to send them the return label, rather than waiting for a customer service rep.
4. More Focus on Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics determine how customers will react to changes in your business. These reports help business leaders understand customer behavior and the role the company plays in their customers' lives.
As AI and machine learning continues to improve, we can expect predictive analytics to become a fundamental tool used by companies with a digital presence. These reports will be built right into the internal user interface and will update with the most recent customer data. That way, business leaders will have all the information they need to make a confident decision for their company.
5. New Augmented Reality Tools
Augmented reality (AR) presents many opportunities to improve digital customer experience. If you're unfamiliar with AR, it's a technology that supplements real images with digital elements, such as graphics or text overlays.
Here’s an example from the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
There's a lot of potential for the use of AR in customer service. For example, some brands have used it to supplement in-person customer experience by displaying product information as customers shop.
So, when a customer is in the store, they can use their smart device to scan a product and see data like customer reviews and product details. This reduces friction during the buying process and makes it easier for customers to find the product or service that's right for them.
Another popular AR trend is the "try-as-you-buy" experience. If your company operates mostly online, you can let customers test out your products by using an AR version on their computer. That way, customers don't have to go through the hassle of buying your product or asking for a sample, only to return it a few weeks later.
6. Personalized Customer Experiences
According to Accenture, 83% of shoppers would exchange data for a more personalized experience. This means customers are willing to give you information. All they ask in return is that you meet them where they are in their customer journey.
For example: A great way to personalize the shopping experience for a customer is to send them an email with product recommendations based on their recent browsing or purchase history.
As you continue to collect customer data, it's going to be much easier to create personalized customer experiences. Not only will you have a stronger understanding of your customer base, but you'll also have the technology needed to distribute content effectively.
Plus, you'll be able to automate this personalization so you can maintain a delightful customer experience as your business grows.
7. Emphasis on Data Security and Privacy
With all of this data comes great responsibility. Yes, customers are willing to share their data with you. But they expect it to be protected and used for the right reasons. Data breaches and security compromises ultimately push customers away from your brand.
Make sure you’re up to date on the latest privacy laws and regulations that affect the way you do business with your customers.
Digital Customer Experience Examples
- Apple’s Omni-Channel Experience
- Warby Parker’s Virtual Try-On
- CURLBOX’s Interactive Chatbot
1. Apple’s Omni-Channel Experience
Apple is a great example of a company that has created a seamless digital customer experience. Through iCloud, customers always have access to their data — like messages, photos, and contacts. And this is true regardless of which Apple device they’re using.
2. Warby Parker’s Virtual Try-On
Warby Parker is a retailer of low-cost, quality prescription eyewear, sunglasses, and contact lenses. If you’re interested in buying a pair, the WP app lets you virtually “try on” the frames before buying using AR technology. All from the comfort of your couch.
3. CURLBOX’s Interactive Chatbot
CURLBOX provides a monthly subscription box service for affordable and exclusive curly hair care products. When you visit the website, their interactive chatbot allows you to quickly submit an inquiry based on a selection of common customer requests — like subscription updates or shipping questions.
Customers want to have access to your brand when and where they decide to do business. And right now, digital channels are the place to be.
Make sure you prioritize finding new and innovative ways to optimize your digital customer experience in 2022.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.