We’ve come a long way from magazine ads and brick-and-mortar stores. Even if your brand has a physical store location, we have crossed the rubicon into the digital future.
According to data collected by Oberlo, 63% of all shopping experiences in 2020 begin online, with more than half of all customers preferring to shop online rather than in-store. According to Hubspot, 55% of customers would pay more for a guaranteed excellent experience, while research by Acquira discovered that 76% of customers will abandon a brand after a bad customer experience.
With more and more sales originating and even completing online, 2020 is the perfect time to check in with your brand’s digital customer experience and see if it needs improvement. If your digital experience is turning potential customers off, they may never come back.
What is a Digital Customer Experience?
Many people assume that the “digital customer experience” consists of how the customer interacts with your website or mobile app.
It is these things, but it is also more. The digital customer experience might extend to their interactions with your brand on social media, smart TV, IoT devices, smartwatches, and anywhere else they might interact with your brand digitally.
It might extend to appointment-scheduling, package tracking, or omnichannel support and follow-up by email or SMS text message. Even phone calls and zoom calls play a role in the digital customer experience if they originate from the brand’s digital platforms.
Most importantly, digital customer experience cannot be segmented. Your customers don’t have multiple digital customer experiences of your brand—one with your app, one with your Twitter account, etc.
Your customer has one digital experience of your brand. Every channel feeds into that one experience. If one channel is broken, the whole digital customer experience is broken.
What Makes a Great Digital Customer Experience?
A few minutes with the average digital customer will make two things clear—they have high expectations, and they are without mercy. Fail to connect on any of their expectations for a digital brand, and chances are they are lost forever.
Here’s what Bright has discovered to be the most important components of a stellar—that is to say, acceptable—digital customer experience. Keep these components top of mind when considering digital customer experience improvement.
Fast. According to the Harvard Business Review, most customers expect a digital customer experience to load in three seconds or less, whether it be desktop, mobile, watch, or any other device. 50% will abandon a digital customer experience that takes 10 or more seconds to load.
Omnichannel. Digital customers expect to be able to access your brand and its functions anywhere they look. They don’t want to be funneled to a desktop website, or a mobile app, or a Twitter page, to access key functions. Wherever they want to find you in the digital world, it behooves you to show up for them.
Seamless. Not only must digital brand experiences be omnichannel, but the channels must also integrate. Customers want the same login credentials to get them access to their brand account on every device and have their information synced, including stored account information, shopping cart information, payment methods, chat support conversations … the works. Customers hate having to input the same information twice just because they switched from desktop to mobile or vice-versa.
Easy to Use. For customers to commit their time to a digital experience, it had better be easy to use. No confusing site navigation, hard-to-find links, and—it goes without saying—no desktop sites on mobile devices. They expect the design to be so utilitarian that they don’t even notice the design. They only notice that they are getting things done.
Personalised. Customers don’t want to be treated like robots, cogs in a brand’s profit plan. They want to know that the brand cares about them as an individual and makes the effort to customise the digital experience to them specifically.
Emotional. It’s not enough to offer value and function, although those are necessary as well. Customers respond to brands that engage them emotionally, whether speaking to their values, empathizing with pain points, or simply making the digital experience fun.
Digital Customer Experience Checklist
Here is Bright’s 10-points checklist for digital customer experience improvement
Check every place your customers might encounter your brand on the web - your website, mobile app, third-party seller stores, social media pages, design assets, everything. Would an outside observer think that these experiences were created by the same company? Is there a unity of imagery? Color? Tone? Message? If not, all touchpoints must be brought into alignment.
Brands tend to offer customers a lot of options. Too many choices confuse customers. A good digital customer experience offers a visitor one or two options at a time. Don’t make customers think too hard. Think for them - and lead them in the direction you want them to think, i.e. closer to a sale.
Many digital customer experience improvement projects need to start by eliminating clutter. Even a simple website or app becomes hard to use (and slow to load) by cramming the interface with ads, blogs, message reinforcement, and other garbage. Don’t give customers anything more to look at but the easy choice you want them to make.
Find ways to customise your customer’s experience, presenting them with options, information, and value tailored to their behaviour and buyer persona. Forbes estimates that personalisation can increase a customer’s lifetime value (CLV) by up to 500%.
To personalise your customer’s behaviour, you have to know your customer’s behaviour. Do you have analytics installed at every touchpoint to learn more about your visitors? The more data you have, the more you can customise the experience to the customer.
Does every touchpoint of your digital customer experience load in three seconds? Or at least less than 10 seconds? You will lose 50% of your traffic minimum if it doesn’t.
Customers expect attentive, pro-active service when needed. A good FAQ or knowledge base goes a long way, but digital customer experience improvement is a perfect opportunity to put architecture in place for solution-oriented, responsive, personalised customer support that actually listens to customer issues and tries to fix them.
Find out what your customers value, what their pain points are, and augment your content to hook them emotionally. Sell to the heart, not just the head.
Is your digital experience accessible to the visually, hearing, or motor-impaired? Did you even know that was a thing? Not only is it, but customers have successfully sued companies under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to provide accessible websites. This could mean increasing the font size and color contrast, adding subtitles to video content, and optimising your site for screen readers.
The best digital customer experiences keep going. Keep in touch with your customers through email and SMS follow-up and remarketing. Remember, according to Forbes, it is 5x easier to sell to a current customer than to acquire a new one. Your investment in digital customer experience improvement could pay for itself just by improving your follow-up.