Successful businesses rely on great customer experiences more than ever. According to a Walker study, customer experience will become the key differentiator between brands by the year 2020, beating out both price and product. An increasingly important part of that will come in the form of digital customer experience.
Digital customer experience is just as crucial as traditional, in-person customer experience. Brands must consider these two facets as separate yet strongly connected in order to create an effective strategy that appeals to target audiences. But understanding these two types of experiences can be confusing for those who are not fully aware of their differences and similarities.
Defining Customer Experiences
The term customer experience (CX) is a broad term concerning how a consumer feels about their treatment by a company. This includes traditional aspects of customer service, such as in-person help from a representative, as well as newer, digitally-based company interactions, like chatbot services. The term digital customer experience (DCX) is exclusively focused on these digital services, as well as back-office tools that help make these online experiences possible, such as personalization software.
Think of customer experience and digital customer experience as equally important in serving the needs of target audiences and providing them with a cohesive and beneficial interaction with your brand. Although DCX can be included within the larger term of CX, they are distinct from one another in how they operate while still driving toward the same goal of sales completion.
Different Experiences Need Different Strategies
It is important for businesses to understand that the same principles used to create great CX do not always translate perfectly into great DCX. While a business’ target audience should be able to find the same level of service and care both in person and online, companies should note that customer experience and digital customer experience do not have a direct one-to-one correlation.
As discussed by Harvard Business Review, a large part of traditional CX relies on the actions of other customers, the physical environment and location, which often results in customers lowering their expectations for the experience. However, DCX is purely online and subject to the high standards of consumers, including fast loading time, being able to quickly find the items they want and having their needs met in the exact ways they expect. Customers who are in a store know that employees are busy and may need to wait to be helped, but online customers feel like there is no excuse for slow or inefficient service when shopping on their computer. These different expectations will require different strategies in order to be met properly.
Businesses will need to use sophisticated data insights to make the most of how consumers interact with them through digital platforms in order to create great digital customer experiences. Gartner reports that the most popular way to begin refining and improving DCX is by improving how customer feedback is collected and analyzed. In doing so, companies can have a better understanding of how to improve in ways that meet customer expectations.
The Worth of Digital Customer Experience
With the amount of work needed to make great DCX, businesses may wonder if it is worth the effort. But effective digital customer experiences have been shown to have a positive effect on customers and lead to a high return on investment. While the impact of DCX on a company’s profits will vary from business to business, information from Forbes shows that higher adoption of a digital interaction (such as an online shopping cart) leads to higher revenue and lower operational cost. McKinsey research also shows that businesses that have greater digital capabilities can convert sales at a rate that is 2.5 times greater than businesses with lesser digital capabilities.
Like traditional CX, poor DCX can cause customers to turn to a competitor. As discussed in an article on Huffington Post, 67% of customers have cited bad experiences as a reason for leaving a company in favor of a competitor. This includes poor experiences online. It is important to note that even if you are not hearing direct customer complaints, statistics show that only 1 in every 26 unhappy customers will complain about a bad experience. The silence of your target audience regarding poor or nonexistent DCX does not mean you should not improve your online experiences.
The Future of DCX
It is important to note that online and offline experiences, while still different from one another, are becoming closer together than ever in the customer journey. The modern customer often expects to be able to switch between devices while online, as well as begin, continue or finish their journey in person whenever he or she wishes. This means that a company should provide digital experiences that can transfer important information across devices and also access such information at physical locations for a smooth, interconnected experience.
As you manage and seek to improve your current DCX, keep this in mind so that your brand can keep pace with the evolving expectations of the modern audience.