Customers today are different from the ones even just a couple of years ago. For one, they’re much more informed and discerning. Given access to the Internet, social media and the like, it’s easy for customers to know what they want and even how they want things to be. And they’re not shy about their choices too, nor do they hesitate to switch to a competitor if they’re not satisfied. Given how word gets out, bad reviews from customers carry exponentially more weight today than they did before. It’s also important to note that with the continued rise and use of the Internet and social media and the way they’re integrated into many things — doing business among them — more and more companies are seeing how important it is not only to have a solid and strong digital and online presence, but also to deliver a high quality digital customer experience.
Data supports this: A study shows that by next year, 2020, approximately 20.4 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. More and more people are depending on a digital experience to interact with brands and businesses. Another study reveals that around 79% of consumers have used a mobile device to make a purchase within the last six months, and as much as a large majority of customers — 80% — check out things like reviews from other customers, product information, as well as compare prices through the Internet on their smartphones while shopping at a physical store; more than half of customers, around 65%, research products online even before they set foot inside a store.
In the U.S. alone, around 95% of Americans own a mobile phone while 77% of Americans use a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2018 statistics. Another study predicts that by 2022, smartphones will be in the hands of more than 270 million Americans. This practically underscores the need for a customer experience that well transcends the four walls of a brick and mortar store.
So with hard data showing the obvious: That digital disruption is at the forefront of the change in paradigm in the way doing business is done, along comes with it the obligation (at least if that business wants to succeed) for brands and companies to savvy — digital business-wise — and deliver nothing less than an excellent digital customer experience.
Take a look on what you’ll find on this article about customer experience:
- Map it out: Creating a genuine and engaging digital customer experience
- Paying attention to the mobile angle
- Turning the tables: Creating positives from negatives
- Moving forward and looking ahead
Map it out: Creating a genuine and engaging digital customer experience
Consider this: Data says around 75% of consumers become frustrated with an impersonal experience. What’s more, 44% of customers also said that getting a more personalized experience would probably make them at least try a known brand’s product or service. Digital isn’t really known for a “personal” approach, but accomplishing such a thing is very possible. The key lies in creating an effective and genuine digital customer experience map — where you wear the shoes of the customer for a change. At the most basic, you’d need to draw up a diagram that details how customers engage with the company digitally — from the initial peaking of interest from advertisements and marketing (like clicking links from social media ads, for example), to the pre-purchase experience (such as researching about your product/service and comparing it to the competition’s), to the purchase itself, and the after-sales experience. The map will naturally differ depending on the company, and businesses with more complex operations will obviously have a more complex digital customer experience map. Not only does mapping out your digital customer experience help you understand your customers more, but it also provides a detailed but different perspective of the way you are currently doing business — potentially showing you problem areas, areas for improvement, and the like. As a whole, it will help you understand the digital aspect of your business on a more profound level.
Many companies and their respective decision-makers often fall into the trap of understanding their business and their products and offerings so well, but be woefully out of touch when it comes to communicating that to customers and delivering the quality of service they want, especially in the digital experience. Often customer needs, wants and trends, along with the opportunities they carry, are wasted because company managers and leaders only understand one side of the coin (and in the case of digital, sometimes not even that).
To sum: Mapping out the digital customer experience journey helps brands discover more about their digital business and the way customers interact and engage with them. This in turn helps them identify points of improvement and even discover new opportunities and additional avenues for revenue.
Paying attention to the mobile angle
Especially these days, digital equates to mobile. Pew Research Center reports that approximately 25% of Americans are “smartphone only” users, meaning that they rely solely on their smartphones for accessing and interacting on the World Wide Web. Millennials in particular — a consumer segment that is fast becoming the most dominant among the rest — are much more keen on using mobile devices for a number of things, purchases and service procurement included. Microsoft data shows that 43% of millennials contact customer service from their mobile device, and that 79% of the same segment are more willing to make purchases or avail of services from a company that has a mobile customer service portal.
The unfortunate thing is that many companies are incredibly out of touch when it comes to their mobile / digital customer experience delivery. Data shows that while more than half of businesses — 60% — think that they’re providing a good mobile experience, the reality is that only 22% of customers would agree with that sentiment.
There is SO MUCH room for improvement when it comes to delivering a quality digital customer experience through mobile. And not only for higher customer satisfaction, but also, ultimately, for better profitability as well.
To address this, we go back to the digital customer experience map, this time taking a particular look at the mobile experience. It’s important for brands to look at potential high-level problems through that experience. You’ll also be able to find out which things or trends or initiatives are sitting well with customers, helping you stick to the right path. It is also important to use the data you collect to establish baseline metrics so your progress can be better monitored and assessed periodically, in turn helping you tweak the mobile/digital customer experience, seeing it constantly improved and keeping it relatable and engaging for customers.
Turning the tables: Creating positives from negatives
Inevitably, as with all businesses, you’ll get negative feed back from customers. But this is not the end of the road. What’s particularly good about the digital customer experience is that you can more readily make changes, and see those changes implemented. That’s the magic of digital.
Take the example of a Brand A. It’s core product and / or service is reputably one of the best in the industry. But the same brand is also known for having poor customer service. The opportunity here is to take a deeper look into things: Does the product description properly show pertinent information about the product or service that the customer needs and wants? Are issues communicated through online channels properly addressed? How long before an issue or problem is typically resolved? Are customers having a hard time looking for customer service information online and are they able to make contact with a person or system that can help them in a timely manner? These are just some of the questions you can ask when you take a look at negative feedback and search for specific areas in your digital customer experience that can be enhanced and improved.
On the whole, this approach will not only help resolve issues you currently have with your digital customer experience and anticipate and get ahead of potential problems, but also help you develop the proper digital strategy that will help improve your digital customer experience. These strategies in turn, help you discover new avenues for revenue generation and customer satisfaction — it’s the business equivalent of common adage, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”
Moving forward and looking ahead
As such, it’s important for any company looking to improve its digital customer experience to see the current trends and take a look at how these affect the current digital strategy.
1. Automation and artificial intelligence continue to expand their roles in the digital customer experience
Artificial intelligence used to be something you’d only see in science fiction stories, but such is not the case today. While a lot of the technology is still in its infancy and is still being developed, a lot of brands are already reaping increased benefits brought about by incorporating automated systems and artificial intelligence in the way they operate.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s also important to note that many customers still put a significant premium on experiencing a “personal touch” when dealing with companies and service providers. The real challenge here will be finding that balance between utilizing automation and AI while also delivering a sense of personalized service that customers still want.
2. Employee experience also matters
It may sound strange when talking about the digital customer experience, but the employee experience matters too. In the same way that Chick-Fil-A and In-N-Out are some of the best places to work and enjoy a staggering amount of success despite the general negative employee experience in the fast-food industry, the same goes for your digital customer experience. The people behind your digital strategy, and especially any person manning the digital customer service side of things will be much more motivated and driven to excel (that means delivering a higher standard of customer care) if the company also puts a premium on the way they are treated and provide them with the benefits they deserve. Even in general terms, providing a good employee experience motivates workers to work harder to excel and keep their jobs, and gives you much more leverage to procure the best talent.
3. Omnichannel is the way to go
A Harvard Business Review study shows that omni-channel customers usually spend around 4% more in store and approximately 10% more when shopping online compared to customers who only engaged in single channels. In general, customers spend more money the more channels they use. The takeaway here is for brands to not focus their digital customer experience improvements on just one channel, but on multiple channels. By all indications, any investment will be worth it.
4. The emergence of more intuitive tools to help improve the digital customer experience
It is essential for any initiative towards improving digital customer experience to have the right tools in order to get the job done. Better collaboration, improved transparency and communication between the individuals and teams that work behind the scenes are the keys to developing and properly implementing the right initiatives. The right tools, such as those provided by Runrun.it are designed to remove the bottlenecks that prevent you from addressing customer issues or executing programs to help improve customers’ digital experience.
Runrun.it’s tools provide an array of useful, easy to generate and real-time data that can be used by managers and leaders empowering them to make more informed strategic decisions for their organizations and teams, prevent possible mistakes in the future, and know where and when to step in to make improvements. These tools and more are critical to maximizing the potential that an excellent digital customer experience can provide. To see how Runrun.it’s suite of innovative tools can help your workplace and operations, check out the free trial here.