Article

Is customer experience important in digital?8 min read

Mike Soden May 8, 2018

Creating a great customer experience should be at the heart of everything you do in business. In digital forums and formats this is even more important.

Every communication you draft, every decision you take and every strategic action you give shape to have customer experience as the pivotal driving force behind it. In this digital age where there is an increasing number of technology-savvy, smartphone-equipped customers, the focus should be on defining, creating and continuously refining digital experiences across touchpoints.

Are your current actions building customer loyalty? Or not?

Digital customers have higher expectations than offline customers

In a brick-and-mortar setting, customer experience is determined by a variety of factors, including atmosphere (temperature, lighting, noise and music), the location itself and other customers. Some factors cannot be controlled by the business, such as waiting lines or customer behaviour, which is why consumers won’t mind waiting in line or spending a few extra minutes for service during busy hours.

However, online experience is vastly different. Consumers demand convenience and quick service, abandoning a site that does not load within three seconds. In the event of an unsatisfactory online experience, they don’t hesitate to blame the business immediately. Few customers would consider giving the business a second shot, preferring to shop for a competitor who provides a better digital experience.

An unsatisfactory online experience creates doubts in customers about the company’s ability to deliver satisfactory experiences across other digital touchpoints. You’ll lose loyalty and business.

Five reasons to find out more:

 Digital customers are the same people you want to attract through current channels.

Liquid Digital uses a Digital Evolution technique to broaden channel use and get results for you.

Can you delight digital customers?           

As brand loyalties can easily falter, companies are finding it useful to map important life events where timely engagement can grow sales and strengthen brand relationships.
For instance, a B2C company may need to map out all these key life events:

  • Change in the email address
  • Customers planning to move their home
  • Customers moving their home
  • Customers moving to a different country
  • New additions to the family
  • Customers’ children turning 18 years of age (important to insurance companies)

Data collection is part of this. It can come from marketing, CRM, sales, customer service, product development, e-commerce and IT functions. Channels of data collection include websites, contact centres, mobile sites, mobile apps, resellers, social media, mail order and in-store.

Once you know your customers better it allows you to leverage technology platforms along the customer journey. Done correctly, you’ll have greater customer loyalty and grow your business.

For instance, an energy company can implement an automated communication platform that allows relocating customers to move their accounts with just 5 steps on a range of devices during or after their relocation. It can lower the cost of serving customers and help retain relocating customers.

Personalised communication works at Booktopia. The iconic online bookstore uses purpose-built technology from Optimizely to test the effectiveness of features on both its mobile and desktop app. The software allows the company to conduct customer experiments to understand behaviour and purchase trends, which ultimately allowed them to improve end-to-end customer experience. As a result, the company has seen a 50% increase in mobile conversions and 40% increase in desktop conversions.

The key is offering increased value to customers. Digital intervention should improve an existing experience in some way. There are many ways we help businesses do this:

  • Use search engine optimisation, advertise on search engines and promote prominently on your desktop site, mobile site, mobile app (if you have one) as well as your brick-and-mortar store/office (if you have one).
  • Share tutorial videos explaining the use of your new digital channels across various customer touchpoints, including your Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.
  • If feasible, consider testing the new digital initiatives among user groups to gain feedback and word-of-mouth.
  • Offer customers incentives to try out digital channels; newspapers have extensively used financial rewards to encourage digital subscriptions and the use of their tablet and smartphone apps.
  • If it makes sense at this point in your digital journey, consider using legacy customer experience channels to promote new channels you are developing. This will encourage customers to try new tools and channels at a faster rate and lower your distribution overheads.

Is it just about ‘Digital Experience’?

No. It’s not design, either. Design is subjective. What one person loves, another loathes. Therefore, the only way of being sure of effective business development is to test and test often.

We gather data at every step of our process, from initial research through to design and usability testing. This customer data guides our design, rather than it being at the whim of personal opinion or company politics.

We know customers want to see the human face of the brand, and a big part of that expectation is to feel cared for and be treated as an individual. Fortunately, customers are open to companies using their data to provide tailored and rewarding experiences.

Do you need both personalisation and delivery changes?

It depends on your business, but here are some examples:

  • An insurer with data on a customer who has put his/her home up for sale can recommend home coverage products at key moments.
  • E-commerce websites can send personalised offers and discounts via text and email to 18-year old customers embarking on their graduate journey to college.
  • Tourism websites can send out correctly-timed email newsletters on new travel packages or push out offers on their mobile apps a month or two prior to summer holidays, end-of-year holidays or well before massive events such as the World Cup, Olympics, Tulip time (Holland), shopping festivals (Dubai) or in advance of year-end holidays.
  • Netflix looks at each customer viewing history to assess what the user might be interested in watching next.
  • Spotify’s ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist makes recommendations based on user tastes and preferences and updates the recommendations every week.
  • Amazon is a leader in personalisation, its product recommendation and curation algorithms suggest products to an eerily accurate degree.

If you are still thinking of personalising the digital customer experience, here are some basics:

  • Unless you have a correct understanding of customer intent, attitude, needs, wants and lifestyles, it will be impossible to create relevant content that resonates with them. You will also struggle to identify the right digital channels to reach them.
  • Add a personal touch to all your customer interfaces. Your live chat assistants should go beyond providing pre-recorded responses to understanding the context of customer queries and have meaningful conversations. Your customers will feel valued.
  • Remember customers’ birthdays or any personal events and send out best wishes or congratulatory emails. Use personalisation in your email newsletter campaigns by assessing and deploying the right software and tools that integrate easily with your CRM or e-commerce platform. For more complex personalisation, explore the use of APIs to extract any data you want and create hyper-targeted campaigns.
  • Set up a blog that educates, enlightens and entertains customers on issues of topical interest, key challenges, useful tips, industry reports and content that they will actually read, apply and feel encouraged to respond to (if you have a comments section) to share to social networks (integrate social media buttons) or review your existing blog to determine if your content has done a good job of engaging customers. Leverage content to gain customer feedback and insights that can inform your digital experience strategies.

 Is customer feedback dangerous?

It can be if ignored. But constant customer feedback is key to generating real-time insights and designing timely responses. Your existing opinion-gathering mechanisms may be slow. In a worst-case scenario, you could be counting on customers to provide feedback as and when they encounter challenges. While customers will voice their opinions in a physical setting, they may not be as proactive in an online environment when speed is of the essence.

To understand digital customers’ pain-points and expectations, make direct inquiries with them via survey software, online focus groups and mobile flash surveys. Use the insights to address challenges, test new ideas and deploy digital solutions that fine-tune the customer journey and experience over time.

The digital customer experience is transforming quickly thanks to machine learning, artificial intelligence and advanced predictive analytics. The sooner you start designing effective digital and/or omnichannel customer experiences, the easier it will be to align with evolving customer preferences and compete with tech-savvy competitors.

Speak to us at Liquid Digital to get started with a review of your digital customer experience journey. Our team of highly-qualified and trained experts are more than happy to help, and we have special tools to get you the results you want.