Digital customer experience

What is a digital customer experience?

A digital customer experience is an online touchpoint customers use to interact with your brand. A common example might be a website or app.

The world has changed dramatically in the last 15 years. Today's customers interact with most businesses and brands more virtually than physically. 

Successful businesses not only understand this, but now focus on fostering an exceptional digital customer experience. 

Below we explain:

  • How digital customer experience (DCX) differs from physical customer experience
  • How to manage your company's DCXs
  • Why companies are shifting strategies to focus on DCX 
  • The benefits of choosing a cloud-based digital experience platform (DXP) 

Defining digital customer experience (DCX)

What makes digital customer experience unique from generic customer experience or a physical, brick-and-mortar experience? The medium!

People are stuck on their mobile devices more than ever before. The average person now spends just over four hours a day on their phone. This doesn't even include the time they spend on tablets, PCs, and laptops. Even when people are in a physical location, their attention is increasingly focused on their mobile devices instead of their surroundings. 

The takeaway? Screens are where your customers experience a vast majority of their interactions and feelings about your company and brand. Digital is where you need to focus your energy.

But can't you depend on fantastic physical, brick-and-mortar customer experience trends to offset substandard digital services? Nope. 

It turns out most people don't differentiate between physical and digital experiences. Brand experience is all the same to them. 

DCX equals all online interactions

Digital customer experience at its essence is the analysis of all digital and online interactions a customer has with your brand. Before the ubiquity of social media and smartphones, the only "channel" your company had to worry about was its website. People visited and interacted with your company digitally while pinned to a computer with a browser -- how quaint!

Today, the potential channels through which your customers want to experience your brand are innumerable and growing. You must meet your customers where they are -- i.e., online -- to engage and create authentic and great digital customer experiences. Meeting customers online allows you to capture and analyze what their pain points are and what they want, as well as when they want it. 

Not only must your company embrace digital spaces, but it also needs to develop a seamless, omnichannel experience. You want your customers to leave every interaction with your company -- whether on Snapchat or via your iOS app -- with positive feelings about how easy, pleasant and seamless it was. 

The importance of an omnichannel digital customer experience

Consistency always creates the best DCXs. Your brand and your customers' interactions with it must be seamless across all channels. If customers disengage with your brand using the mobile app, you want them to pick up their smartphone and be right where they left off. 

An omnichannel digital experience provides customers with a personalized, consistent and ever-present interaction. How important is a fluid omnichannel experience? According to one study, 71% of customers expect a consistent experience across all channels. 

Managing digital customer experience

DCX requires more than monitoring customers across all channels. Companies need to ask customers about their experiences and their preferences directly. 

The best DCXs are symbiotic relationships built via two-way interaction between company and customer. Customers are increasingly willing to trust brands and provide user preferences and data. However, they expect a great digital experience in return. 

Digital Customer Experience management is crucial to build and maintain engaging, interactive relationships with your customers. DCX management is a four-step process:

1. Get to know your customers -- qualitatively 

You need to track, monitor and analyze your customer experience data -- continuously. The goal isn't to build the world's largest database. You want to collect data from every single touchpoint so you can establish how your customers "feel" about their interactions with your product, service and brands. 

Collect and analyze data to provide insight into customer preferences and motivations, including their pain points and how your product can solve them. This knowledge about your customers helps sell and resell throughout the sales lifecycle. 

2. Identify customer personas and segments

People will turn to your brand and company for a variety of reasons. Perhaps quality is vital for some. Others may emphasize status and appearance. Categorize your customers based on motivation and feelings for your brand. Segment your customers by demographics, location and level of affinity for your brand to yield accurate metrics. 

3. Create relevant customer journey templates

Digital customer experiences depend on building customer journeys that appeal to different types of customers. Create a variety of customer journey templates, or pathways, based on the personas and market segments you identified in the previous step. You can then use the proper customer journey framework to appeal to different types of customers. 

4. Personalize customer journey based on data insights

Personalized content is key to a stellar digital customer experience. Once you understand a customer's motivations and have gained insights into how they feel about your brand, you can use these feelings to guide them through their customer journey. Based on their persona and journey template, you can target market them with personalized content at the right time and in the right place, based on their digital preferences. 

Benefits of focusing on digital customer experience

Though physical -- i.e., brick-and-mortar -- customer experience is still essential for some businesses, it will never again dominate. Even businesses that depend on face-to-face (F2F) sales and services need to start transforming into digital-first, customer-obsessed companies -- and fast!

Why? Two reasons. 

First, your competition already has or will begin transforming soon, giving them an inherent advantage. According to a 2017 Gartner study, 42% of CEOs reported they had already started or finished converting to a digital-first model.

Second, digital-first companies almost automatically earn more revenue -- even in F2F and B2B sales. 

According to a study of 46,000 businesses by the Harvard Business Review, omnichannel digital customers spend 4% more at brick-and-mortar stores. They also spent an average of 10% more online than customers not participating in omnichannel marketing. In other words: a positive digital customer experience increases revenue and sales across the board, physically and virtually. 

How to implement digital customer experience into your company's existing workflows

Digital experience platforms (DXP) are a new and necessary software solution embraced by companies making the jump to digital customer experience management. A DXP, like Optimizely's Digital Experience Platform, automatically connects data and digital customer experience feedback across digital channels in real-time, providing up-to-the-minute insights on where your customers are in their journey and what their pain points are. 

With a DXP, you can personalize customer experiences using artificial intelligence (AI), and identify journey chokepoints or operational inefficiencies leading to adverse customer reactions. The best DXPs ensure you seize the opportunity to sell to your customers in the right places at the right times. 

Cloud-based DXPs offer extensible and infinite growth capability, as well as centralized and constant team access to customer data and personalization tools. The cloud also allows the best DXPs to offer AI-informed insights, so your marketers can make data-driven, real-time decisions.