Enhancing the digital customer experience: Proven strategies for success

We are immersed in digital customer experiences at home, at work, and on the go. Most Americans check their phones within 10 minutes of waking up and continue to check their phones a whopping 144 times throughout the day, according to a survey by Reviews.org. Weather apps, email, Slack, social media, fitness apps, online shopping and entertainment, digital billboards, and video games are all digital customer experiences.

Most of these experiences barely register as noteworthy, but collectively they set our expectations for what a digital customer experience should be. Regardless of your industry, customers gauge the digital customer experience you deliver against all these day-to-day digital interactions.

The importance of digital customer experience (DCX) 

Digital is the most important engagement channel for all businesses. Salesforce found that “74% of customers expect to be able to do anything online that they can do in-person or by phone.” That sets a high bar for what the digital customer experience should include.

Whether you're a digital native or an established business that's been around for hundreds of years, embracing the digital customer experience and thinking about how customers engage with businesses in a digital way is front of mind for everyone. 

Salesforce found that “74% of customers expect to be able to do anything online that they can do in-person or by phone.”

What does a successful digital customer experience look like?

A successful digital customer experience is something that customers love to use, and not something that businesses want the customers to use. This is an important distinction. Forcing customers to engage online by taking away other options doesn’t equate to success.

A successful digital customer experience is additive. It provides the customer with a preferred mechanism of engaging with a brand in a digital way that works for them. 

The key to delivering successful digital customer experiences is thinking about your customers’ collective digital experiences and how you can add value. It should be something that excites them so much they default to using it.

How digital customer experiences and customer expectations have evolved

Over the past 10 to 15 years, companies have embraced the digital customer experience in two slightly different ways: as digital natives or through digital transformation. 

Digital natives led the way

Digital natives said, ”We're going to build our entire business on a digital-first strategy!” They launched as digital-first companies, introduced their brand online and gathered a lot of market share through this disruptive approach to the traditional model. Think online banks like Monzo and Starling that challenged traditional banks with great digital customer experiences like mobile apps and real-time notifications.

Traditional companies pivoted through digital transformation

With digital natives grabbing market share, established companies realized they needed to embrace a digital-first mindset to avoid losing market share. They launched digital transformation initiatives and built digital strategies. In time, they focused on digital as their primary route to market. 

Impact on customer expectations

When digital natives introduced innovative digital experiences to the market, they raised the bar on customer experience that was not only innovative but cost-effective. And those customer expectations go up every time they experience a better way of doing things.

Companies have to look beyond improving their own digital customer experience to stay competitive. They need to meet or exceed customer expectations based on the best digital experiences out there. This means focusing on ways to bring additional value to their customers.

For example, Strava just released messaging in their app. While this might improve the digital customer experience Strava offers, the reality is, we already have channels for messaging people.

Companies need to deliver digital customer experiences that go beyond what’s expected and truly delight customers with something new. 

Build a winning digital customer experience strategy

A digital customer experience strategy has three strategic pillars: multiple experiences that connect to create a seamless customer experience across devices; personalization; and deep insight into who your customers are and what they want.

A digital customer experience strategy has three strategic pillars: multiple experiences that connect to create a seamless customer experience across devices; personalization; and deep insight into who your customers are and what they want.

Engage customers with a "multi-experience" strategy

Companies can deliver content on web, mobile, digital billboards, etc. and call it omnichannel, but what you really want is to tailor the best experiences for each of those channels. When you’re thinking about digital customer experiences, you need to recognize that people want to engage in different ways on different channels.The customer experience they want on a mobile device differs from what they want on their desktop or other online channels.

Delivering a positive overarching digital customer experience requires a “multi-experience” strategy that meets the different expectations people have on different digital channels and considers all the digital touchpoints customers might have. One oft-quoted study found a traveler who engaged in over 500 different digital touchpoints.  

Connecting multiple touchpoints into a seamless customer experience requires modern tools, like Contentful, that can deliver multiple experiences from a single digital platform. This enables companies to deliver the best experience on the device the customer chooses at any point in time.

See how Saadia Group manages multi-brand digital experiences with the Contentful platform.

Use data analytics to deliver personalized experiences

Personalization should be baked into each digital customer experience from the outset. Instead of creating content and then overlaying personalization, look for content solutions that let you manage personalization right alongside content creation for more authentic, personalized experiences. 

  • Choose a personalization engine that uses customer data and analytics.

  • Integrate personalization with content creation.

  • Make personalization part of the core experience instead of an afterthought. 

Use artificial intelligence for better customer insights

In addition to generating content variations for different segments, artificial intelligence can analyze customer data for insights into new segments and help you identify top-performing content.

For example, AI tools can help:

  • Identify segments you might not have thought about when defining personas.

  • Build new segments for personalization.

  • Measure content performance and spot trends in what content performs well.

In all these examples, people can still look at the output and choose how to use it to further their business goals.

Common challenges

There are a few challenges to keep in mind as you select the tools that will support your digital customer experience strategy. Choosing a platform that addresses these common challenges will make it easier to evolve and scale your strategy.  

Addressing changing customer expectations

Customer expectations are ultimately the sum total of an individual’s digital life, and therefore, outside our control to a great extent. Somebody launches a new social platform and suddenly customer behavior changes. As a business you have to ask yourself: How do I quickly adapt? 

The best you can do is make sure you've got the right tech that allows you to adapt and pivot quickly. The key to this is how you manage your content. Content is the heart of the customer experience. A content platform that allows you to quickly reuse and repurpose content and deliver it to new channels will help you react and adapt faster.

For example, customers who structured their content with the Contentful platform will be able to start experimenting with tailored AI tools sooner because structured content fuels AI models.

Navigating data security and privacy concerns

Navigating data security and privacy can be challenging, especially if you operate in multiple countries. The key is to have robust safeguards in place for content generation, approval, and publication. Contentful lets you customize governance features so that content goes through appropriate checks and balances before it reaches the customer. 

Tips for continually improving the digital customer experience 

To stay competitive, companies must continually improve digital customer experiences. 

Create a seamless experience for the entire customer journey

If you want to deliver a seamless customer journey, start with a seamless content journey. 

It doesn't really matter where content exists within your business. What matters is how you connect that content together and deliver it as a seamless experience across the customer journey. 

  • Start with an understanding of where content sits within — and how it flows through — your business.

  • Look for tools, like the Contentful Composable Content Platform, that connect different content sources together and empower teams to assemble content from multiple sources into a seamless digital customer experience.

  • Reuse the content that already exists within your business to amplify its value and deliver customer journeys that feel seamless and connected.

Understand your target audience

Most marketers know they should do research, use data analytics, and gather customer feedback to understand their target audience. But it’s important to realize there could be other audiences waiting for a better digital experience. 

Consider opportunities to expand your target audience by asking:

  • What new audiences could you open up by improving digital customer experiences?

  • Is our current experience creating a barrier to entry for people who prefer to operate digitally?

  • Would a better digital customer experience bring a new generation or types of customers to us? 

Leverage data for personalization

Data is incredibly cheap to gather, but expensive to activate. The key is to choose a personalization engine that enables you to activate data within your content platform. For example, Contentful enables you to plug personalization engines, like Ninetailed, into the content platform so teams can manage content and personalization in one place.

  • Use a data-driven personalization tool.

  • Connect personalization and content in one place.

  • Make personalization a core part of content development.

Deliver a consistent experience across multiple channels

Delivering a consistent experience across multiple channels is not about delivering the same thing on every channel. It’s about delivering multiple experiences in a consistent way. This starts with making content easy to access and reuse so teams can assemble consistent messages and imagery into the different digital touchpoints customers want.

For example, a composable content approach empowers teams at Bloom & Wild to rearrange text, images, and other media to quickly meet different needs. Reusable content ensures consistency while giving teams the flexibility to present that content in different ways on mobile, desktop, and in other digital applications. See how Contentful helps Bloom & Wild balance personalization with consistency across the digital customer experience.

Utilize emerging technologies 

Procuring and implementing new technology used to be a minimum 12- to 18-month process, but SaaS and composable technology facilitates a much faster time to value nowadays. Businesses need the ability to quickly experiment with and adopt new technologies that can enhance customer experiences and increase engagement.

  • Choose a platform that lets you easily connect new technologies and use them to deliver experiences. 

  • Experiment with new technologies like AI, personalization tools, chatbots, etc.

  • Remember the ability to add and experiment with new technologies is more important than what specific technology you choose to try. 

Measuring the success of your digital customer experience strategy

Classic measures like customer satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are good ways to measure the digital customer experience through customer feedback.

It’s also important to set expectations within the business. What did you expect people to do as a result of a new customer experience? Did they use it? Were your guesses correct? If the results fall short of your expectations, how quickly can you innovate and change things to improve the customer experience?

  • Use CSAT and NPS scores to measure customer satisfaction.

  • Set up internal measures based on what you hope to accomplish in terms of customer behavior.

  • Measure your ability to react to customer feedback. How quickly can you improve digital customer experiences that don’t meet expectations?

Future trends in online customer experience management

There are trends in technology that have minimal lasting impact and then there are movements that shift the entire landscape. AI is one of those movements. 

AI is going to have a seismic effect on the way that businesses deliver customer experiences. Businesses need to prepare now so they can take advantage of AI as it matures and becomes more established. 

Companies that are examining their content strategy, thinking about how they structure content, and how that would feed into an AI model will be best placed to take advantage of advances in AI. Companies that hope to retrofit AI into what they already have will hit the limits of their existing technology and risk being left behind.

AI preparedness is the key. People who are laying the groundwork now, and choosing technology that enables them to integrate AI into their content strategy, are the ones who are going to succeed.

Need some inspiration? See how Fulcrum Labs is combining AI with the Contentful Composable Content Platform to revolutionize digital learning experiences.

Why now is the time to improve customer experience

The digital world moves fast. To stay competitive, companies need to be proactive. Your success next year depends on the actions you take now. 

Delivering a better digital customer experience means taking the time to understand where content sits in your organization, who your target audience is, and how you can leverage customer data and analytics. It means experimenting with modern content solutions that are designed to integrate content and personalization into multiple experiences that feel seamless and connected.

Investing time in your digital customer experience strategy now will deliver a positive return on investment for years to come.

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