What is Digital Customer Experience (DCX)?
Digital customer experience can be defined as the sum of all the digital interactions between a company and a customer as well as the resulting impression that a customer walks away with. It may begin with your company’s website but could also comprise mobile apps, social media, chatbots, and any other channels where the touchpoint is virtual. What matters the most here is the perception customers take away. In the words of Gartner, Customer Experience (CX) refers to the customer’s perceptions and related feelings triggered by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with the employees of the supplier, channels, systems, or products.
Digital Customer Experience vs. Customer Experience
Digital customer experience is inseparable from the all-inclusive customer experience, including in-store and other interactions in the physical world. CX is about building trust, showing empathy, and building human connection, while Digital CX can be understood as the online expression of these efforts.
Generally, customers don’t think about the many stages of their journey the way marketers do. Whether the interaction is virtual or physical, online or offline, your customers expect consistency throughout the brand journey and across all channels. For your customers, it’s all one experience with your brand.
How Does Digital Customer Experience Work?
Providing data to companies is an indispensable part of digital and customers understand that. But they expect brands to know them in return. Though marketing leaders often prioritize customers, some brands don’t even ask for their feedback. Your customers can sense this disconnect and gaze on the missing human element, and brands need to proactively find and fix broken client experiences. As a brand, you should map the customer journey. You fail to create unique experiences until you know when and where your customers interact with your brand.
Customer data provides the necessary insight to your company. It is thus crucial to have solutions in place that can connect data across customer interaction points. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can increasingly gather and connect data, understanding it at the same time. Connecting customer journeys in exciting, helpful, and delightfully surprising ways make for all the difference, and creating those journeys depends on you. Talking about customer journey mapping, not only is creativity vital for creating and connecting customer journeys, but also operational excellence. It’s all about maintaining a prudent balance between creating powerful customer journeys, possessing technical acumen to deliver them, and understanding their impact. After all, a brand should constantly iterate to improve these customer journeys.
Digital Customer Experience Management – The Twin Approach
Focus mainly on digital customer experience – Digital CX is not just a subset of customer experience, and a good customer experience strategy doesn’t imply a good digital customer experience strategy. As brands, you understand that online and offline customers have varied needs and expectations that make focusing on better digital CX quite important. You can’t assume that your efforts to improve customer experience translate well to digital experiences. However, the assumption is that there is a clear line between online and offline. This is quite untrue as channels merge and intersect throughout the customer journey.
Focus on the holistic customer lifecycle – This approach treats digital customer experience as simply a part of the overall customer experience strategy. Equal heed is given to the way digital and non-digital experiences complement one another. As a result, both of these experiences are optimized.
The two approaches above have value, depending on the audience you cater to and the maturity of your digital touchpoints. In case your customers are mainly digital, but your digital services are below standard as per your industry, an initial focus on DCX gets you up to speed faster. A more mature digital business may wish to take a holistic approach to keep its CX strategy unified.
Either way, customers expect a lot in terms of quality of service, making it crucial for businesses to hone their ability to deliver exceptional digital customer experiences.
Why Should You Map Your Customer Experience Journey?
To improve the digital experiences your customers have with your brand, you should first understand what kind of digital experiences there are. Digital customer journey mapping can be effective here. Along their journey, customers experience and engage with your brand at multiple touchpoints. It thus becomes important for you to ascertain touchpoints unique to your business. Remember every touchpoint offers a chance to either create a positive experience to increase brand loyalty or a negative experience that leads to customer loss. Measure how people experience touchpoints and take action to improve them.
A few of the benefits of understanding and mapping the customer journey include detecting areas that your brand can improve on, creating better customer experiences, and exploring new opportunities that your brand can follow.
How to Map Your CX Journey
Step 1: Set Your Goals
Set targets and be clear of what you wish to accomplish before you begin. You can thus narrow down the most efficient ways of hitting your targets. You can stay on track only when you have goals in mind while working on a task. The first step in learning how to make a customer journey map should answer these questions: Why are you charting out the customer journey map? Whose perspective will it be from? What experiences will you be considering relevant when making decisions?
Step 2: Create Buyer Personas
At this stage of creating buyer personas, you should ask “why” questions. These questions offer you more insights into the behavior and motivations of your customers. Your customer journey map is built around the buyer persona, which is why your buyer persona should be as accurate as possible. You want to gain as much data as you can through interviews, surveys, and other types of market research. The information gathered enables you to place yourself in the shoes of your customers.
Step 3: Identify Pain Points and Motivations
Pain points and motivations are considered part of the buyer persona. Ask yourself these questions to determine the persona of your buyer.
*Keep the answers to these questions in mind. Doing so will be crucial in the steps to follow, while you engage in customer journey mapping.
Step 4: Chart Out the Journey of Your Buyer
Note the varied stages of the buyer’s journey to offer highly personalized experiences to your customers down the line. There are three stages to the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. In the awareness stage, buyers can identify the challenges they are facing. Questions that are worth considering comprise: How does the buyer look at these challenges? If dealing with these challenges on the top of the mind for the buyer? Will there be any after-effects if the buyer fails to deal with these challenges?
In the consideration stage, buyers actively seek ways to deal with the challenges they face. Questions that are worth considering include: What choices are available to the buyer? How will buyers search for information on the choices? How will they weigh the pros and cons of the choices that are available to them?
During the decision stage, buyers have made their choice and are just searching for the most appropriate product or service. Questions that are worth considering comprise: Who are the stakeholders in this decision? What yardstick would the buyer use to ascertain if a product or service is suitable for them? How would the buyer evaluate the pros and cons of your brand vs. your competitors?
*As you get answers to these questions, you can effectively accompany your customers through their journey.
Step 5: Maximize Your Touchpoints
In the digital age, your brand’s initial contact with the customer won’t surely be at the beginning of the customer journey, which makes it even more important for companies to maximize their touchpoints.
Touchpoints may be defined as the several channels through which a customer may come face-to-face with your brand. Touchpoints are critical as they are where the opportunities to make the right impression on the customer occurs. Learn the ropes of your touchpoints to maximize their potential. Customer experience strategy here need not be fully traditional or fully digital. As a brand, you should go with what feels the most right from your customers’ perspective.
Step 6: Strengthen Your Customer Trust
As you work on charting a customer journey map, you realize that every step so far equips you to deal with one of the biggest obstacles that brands face: strengthening the trust of your customers. Customers want brands to connect with them and value meaningful, authentic interactions. The best practice here is to earn customer loyalty for your brand by leveraging the insights gained from previous steps of the customer journey mapping process. You can thus create memorable and real experiences for every touchpoint you develop with the customer.
Step 7: Revise
While mapping your customer journey, continue to refine your process till the time you get it just right. Deep journey mapping is, of course, not a one-time thing. It is subject to changes and your brand must be ready to accept the changes.
Role of Customer Experience Technologies in Improving Digital CX
As the capabilities of digital technologies grow, customers expect new standards of excellence, performance, and everything in between. Staying on top of these trends and developments demands mastering the innovations and using them to communicate, engage, and promote in innovative ways. Brands that are willing to embrace the creativity that customer experience technologies offer and those who are ready to go beyond the “norm” are sure to stand out from competitors and offer customers new and richer experiences.
In the world of digital, exciting new technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, live video connectivity, and programmatic advertising are redefining the way businesses connect with their customers. Remember knowledge is power in selling a product or service. Not only do new and constantly evolving technologies help expand the customer base of an organization, but also help organizations gain insight into their customers on a macro-level.
The Relevance of Improving on Digital CX
The emergence of smartphones, smart appliances, Machine Learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled cars has brought about a shift in the way your customers experience services. Technology is playing a predominant role in the lives of people, including your customers. Streamlining business strategies to improve digital CX is thus more crucial than ever before. The DCX channel refers to a method of interaction that complements existing ones. Adding value to the current image of your products, digital channels make it easier for customers to reach any business. As you focus on improving your digital channels to help your customers reach you faster, you increase the overall digital customer experience too.
An example where digital channels were used to enhance CX was when Apple introduced a new strategy. Under this strategy, all store employees could process purchases via digital gadgets. This prevented waiting time at the billing registers. In fact, in this age of digital transformation, companies such as Google have reached quite far with their strategies to provide a holistic CX. They understood what customers would not want to see on their search pages and thus search results were made more streamlined for the user. Besides, every time a user closes an ad by Google, it asks for feedback asking if the content was irrelevant or something the user was just not interested in. User-centric DCX strategies, therefore, help the business better understand the user and take digital CX to another level.
What should the brand remember and take care of?
As a company, you may opt to focus on varied subsets of customer experience, but your customers don’t always see a clear line of division between physical and digital services. For example, in case a customer places an order over a mobile app, they expect to get delivery on time. They are not concerned about the app failure or the order not going through due to other technical issues. What is most important here is that the customer should have a delightful experience. No brand can do without having in place effective strategies to offer a seamless digital customer experience.
How Do You Improve Your Digital Customer Experience?
Understand Your Consumer Behavior
To understand what the digital customer experience should look like, you first need to understand who your customers are and how they behave while purchasing. You can do this best by creating customer journey maps for different buyer personas. As you understand the varied behavior of your customers at an initial stage, you get a hold of their expectations of the digital CX and effectively manage as well as outline the digital experience.
Focus on Self-Service
With companies becoming more tech-savvy, their customers are also becoming quite familiar with cutting-edge technology. Today, customers are used to managing things by themselves online. As a result, customers expect have high expectations for self-service. The fact is that about 70% of customers want a company’s website to include self-service options. FAQs, online discussion forums, and knowledge base are a few of the typical examples of self-service.
Optimize for Mobile
By 2021, it is anticipated that most online purchases will be conducted through phones. As everything will soon be managed via your phone, it goes without saying that your web app, website, and other materials found online should be optimized for mobile. Digital customer experience should meet the expectations of your customers on every channel. Focus on ease of navigation and load time when it comes to mobile optimization. According to a study by Google, 40% of customers are sure to leave a web page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Besides, 59% of mobile users have a greater positive feeling for companies whose mobile apps or sites allowed them to make fast purchases.
Boost Omnichannel Customer Interactions
Your customers want to be able to contact you on their terms. Adopting and following an omnichannel marketing strategy, you offer your customers a unified and integrated buying and support brand experience across channels and devices. More than 40% of customers admit that they have used three to five different communication channels to stay in touch with a specific company. It is therefore in the company’s interest to connect and communicate with customers through different touchpoints.
Capture Customer Feedback
Implementing a data-driven culture is key to driving a user experience that is personalized in nature. To gather data on your customers, their buying behavior, tastes, and preferences, it becomes indispensable to capture their feedback on your products and services. It is through customer feedback that you learn if you are fulfilling their expectations. You can capture customer feedback through surveys and forms.
Digital Transformation and Digital Customer Experience Go Hand-in-Hand
Digital transformation can affect virtually every aspect of the business, which is why likely, it will have the most significant impact on digital CX. We have already witnessed several technological advances. eCommerce shopping, new channels of communication, and personalization have been primarily for the benefit of customers. Organizations are on board with this focus. According to an HBR survey, 40% of respondents listed customer experience as their topmost priority for digital transformation. Remember the experiences customers have with brands affect their perception of the company. As marketers, you should be hopeful of the potential benefits of new technology for digital CX. In the same survey, 72% of respondents said they anticipated the shift to digital to strengthen relationships with customers. If you are, therefore, looking to improve the experience your company offers to customers, begin adapting to technological advances and explore ways to incorporate more digital elements into your customer experience strategy.
As digital transformation shows no signs of slowing down, companies who choose to embrace it can create even better experiences for customers. While moving ahead in your digital transformation journey, you may use it to automate specific tasks, offer helpful online resources, and even gather data in ways that will enable you to serve your customers more effectively. Integrating new technologies in ways that benefit your customers leads to better and convenient digital customer experiences.