The digital customer experience (DCX) is a core component of every business’s marketing, sales, and customer support strategies in 2022 — or at least it should be. Customers expect a DCX that allows them to seamlessly move across channels and platforms to interact with a brand.
Companies that execute DCX well experience higher customer satisfaction, retention, revenue, and brand loyalty. In this article, we’ll tell you exactly how to do it. The sections that follow will cover:
- The definition of the digital customer experience
- How to align your DCX with the buyer journey
- 6 best practices for optimizing your brand’s DCX
Let’s get started.
- The digital customer experience includes every digital channel: websites, mobile apps, IoT devices, social media, voice-activated devices and more.
- Customers are 3.5X more likely to purchase again from a company after they have a positive experience.
- You can align your DCX strategy to the buyer journey with targeted content, an intent-based website, and tailored communication channels.
- Responsive design ensures a seamless web experience on any device.
- Brands powering their DCX with an omnichannel strategy retain customers at more than double the rate as those that don’t.
What is the digital customer experience (DCX)?
The digital customer experience (DCX) refers to the way your customers experience your brand across all digital channels — desktop, mobile, tablet, owned apps, social media, voice-activated devices, IoT devices and more.
The DCX is an extension of in-person interactions customers have with your brand and today is often the primary way customers discover and interact with brands. It impacts customer satisfaction, is an essential part of building strong customer relationships, and is important to controlling your overall brand perception.
It’s also a standard expectation from the modern consumer. In fact, consumers no longer see digital channels as separate from more traditional channels (if they ever did). Instead, as technology has become more integrated into our everyday lives, consumers have expected brands to adjust their overall experience accordingly.
Today, consumers want an absolutely seamless experience across channels. They want to be able to pick up where they left off on one channel and continue on another. They want to have personalized experiences with services and product recommendations tailored to their needs.
From a brand’s perspective, it all comes down to one thing: making customers feel good when they interact with your brand. In fact, customers who rate their experience as positive are exponentially more likely to trust, recommend, and make additional purchases from that brand.
Image Source: XM Institute
Technology today makes it possible for brands to provide this hyper-personalized experience to consumers at scale. Still, it’s not as easy as simply adding digital communication channels and expecting the experience to level up on its own. To build a mature DCX that’s seamless for the customers, brands need to rethink their strategy from the ground up.
That starts with the buyer journey.
Aligning your DCX with the buyer journey
Defining the buyer journey
Launching a true digital customer experience changes your buyer journey and impacts the way people move from awareness through to purchase. Any time you’re creating a new DCX or updating the one you already provide, it’s important to revisit your buyer journey and align it with your marketing channels, experience platforms, and other customer touchpoints.
In its simplest form, the buyer journey looks like this:
Image Source: HubSpot
First, identify which touchpoints occur throughout each stage of the buyer journey. Then, build a strategy that both makes your DCX positive at every stage and facilitates a seamless transition to the next one. Here are three ways to do it:
- Target digital content to different customer segments
- Build intent-based website
- Tailor communication channels to different customer needs
Targeting digital content
Your digital content is often the first experience future customers have with your brand. But not all content is created equal in the eyes of consumers. The most valuable content to them is content that meets their individual needs — which depends on their current stage of the buyer journey.
For example: someone exploring a new problem they’re experiencing needs different content than someone who has already evaluated solutions and wants to make a purchase. It’s up to you to create content for users at every stage and make sure it gets to them effectively. This is done mostly through keyword research and content marketing.
Build an intent-based website
Your website is equivalent to the storefront of the past. It’s the digital representation of what your brand has to offer its customers. One way to ensure it helps to create the best possible DCX is to build your website with buyer intent in mind. In other words: can users find website content that helps them fulfill their current intent.
That intent could be to:
- Get more information about your brand and offerings
- Contact a customer support representative
- Sign up to receive emails or subscribe to your blog
- Browse products and make a purchase
These are just a few examples. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building an intent-based website because there is no one-size-fits-all brand or customer. The key here is to research your customers.
Know the questions they ask at each stage of the buying process. Use website analytics to learn how people interact with your site. Create a site structure and navigation map that allows customers to easily find the information — and take the action — that corresponds with their stage of the buyer journey.
Landing pages are one example of a really effective intent-based website strategy that makes sure users land on the right page at the right time.
Tailor communication channels to different customer needs
Which communication channels are your customers using — and when? Knowing this enables you to optimize every channel for the best possible digital customer experience.
For example: when customers have questions about the pricing of your product, they may turn to your website chatbot more than any other channel. If that’s the case, you want to equip your chatbot to answer this question exactly the way you intend, providing accurate and helpful answers that keep users happy and moving along the buyer journey.
On the other hand, current customers who encounter technical issues with your product may content customer support via email. If that’s the case, you need to have a strategy in place to be sure customers receive a prompt response that helps them resolve issues quickly.
There are two things to note here: one, you can (to some extent) control the channels customers use for different types of interactions by guiding them to those channels wherever possible (your website, in welcome emails, etc.).
Second, the most-utilized channels really depend on the brand and the traits or behaviors of its customers. This may or may not be able to be controlled. An older demographic may simply lean toward email communication vs. in-app or chatbot interactions. In that case, don’t fight the inevitable: optimize your DCX to align with clearly indicated preferences.
Best practices for optimizing the digital customer experience
We know now that an optimized DCX requires research and strategy building unique to each brand. That said, there are best practices working across industries, customer demographics, and brand niches that you should be sure to implement as part of your plan:
Use responsive design
More than half of the world’s internet traffic is now happening on mobile devices. Today, 61% of users have a higher opinion of brands whose sites are optimized for smartphones and other mobile devices. Responsive design is the answer. It alters the look of your website depending on the device for optimal viewing and navigation.
Here’s an example:
Image Source: inVision
Execute an omnichannel marketing strategy
Remember: customers view their interactions with your brand as one whole experience — not a separate set of touchpoints. Implementing an omnichannel strategy ensures that customers can move seamlessly from channel to channel without losing information or progress on a particular action.
For example: if a customer creates a shopping cart on their desktop, they should be able to log in later from your app to access the saved cart and finish their purchase.
Organizations that implement a strong omnichannel strategy retain 89% of their customers (compared to only 33% for those who don’t).
Image Source: Invesp
The ability to provide an optimal digital customer experience depends largely on what you know about your customers. A data-driven approach to DCX means leveraging tools like Google Analytics and other data tools through your email marketing platform, social media sites, and mobile apps to measure and analyze customer behavior.
When you know how customers behave on your digital channels, you can learn more about their preferences and continually refine your strategy to improve their experience.
Personalize, personalize, personalize
Customers value personalization. A vast majority — 80% — of consumers say they want a personalized experience from brands. According to McKinsey, it’s one of those things customers take for granted until a brand gets it wrong. When they do, consumers don’t hesitate to leave for a competitor.
Personalize whenever possible throughout your digital customer experience. Use personal information in communications (like names in emails). Customize product recommendations to user preferences. Train customer support reps to access historical information and remind customers that they’ll use it to help them. All of these actions (and others that are similar) help build a more positive DCX and strengthen your customer relationships.
Maintain high availability
Customers have higher expectations than ever about brand availability. Many customers even expect 24/7 support in some form or another. Digital channels provide the tools needed to do it. Be sure your DCX includes resources customers can access all the time to get their questions answered (for example: an FAQ page or an AI-powered chatbot) and clearly communicate when real human support is available for those who need it.
Collect (and use) customer feedback
Digital channels and tools have also made it easier than ever to collect and utilize customer feedback to continually improve your DCX. Simple rating systems (like a 5-star rating scale) or more involved feedback platforms (like customer review sites) both provide opportunities to read what customers have to say about your brand.
Be proactive about collecting customer feedback by asking customers to rate or write about their experience. Minimize the impact of negative feedback by responding quickly to negative comments or ratings and helping those customers resolve outstanding issues.
Finally, put processes in place to actually review customer feedback, identify trends, and use feedback to improve the DCX.
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