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How to deliver exceptional Digital Customer Experience?

Before we begin our discussion into digital customer experience and how it must be improved, we must first understand what it is to be digital.

In today’s world, the word digital has various meaning. While for some, digital is a new way of doing business, for others, it is an innovative way of catering to their audience, while still others believe that it is being connected to everyone at all times. Really, all these definitions are correct because digital encompasses a huge avenue of things.

According to Merriam-Webster, digital means “characterized by electronic and especially computerized technology.” So then, anything to do with the use of computers and the electronically communicated information is digital.

Computer technology, and the internet specifically, have been catalysts and enablers in redefining and revolutionizing the way businesses across the world function. The penetration of the internet across the length and breadth of the world is staggering.

According to the 2018 Global Digital suite of reports by We Are Social and Hootsuite, more than half the world’s population is online! And over 40 percent of the world’s population is active on social media. What a massive impact is the digital interface having on the world!

Source: https://wearesocial.com/us/blog/2018/01/global-digital-report-2018

In such an age, where half the world is online and can access anything at the click of a button, customers have myriad choices to look into. Further, location is also not a constraint in the interconnected web. The price of products and services are also extremely competitive because of easy accessibility to products and services that were earlier out of reach due to geographical constraints. Also, various studies have corroborated that customers do not hesitate to pay extra to gain a good experience. So, what then could attract a potential customer into buying your product when neither location nor price is a constraint? What could be a differentiator for you today? There is only one answer – the customer experience!

In the digital era, we believe three mediums of communication are of utmost importance – the website, social media, and the mobile phone. Let’s understand more about these mediums.

Website

Towards the end of the 20th century, website development was still in its nascent stage. Websites were, then, akin to catalogs that gave information about the company, the board members, and the products. They were cumbersome in terms of design, functionality, and the overall purpose. Have a look at the Apple website in 1997, and you would understand what I mean. The colors are jarring, the information is overloaded, and the many fonts are aesthetically not pleasing.

Source: money.cnn.com

Today, however, websites are mediums of selling – a staggering 61% of B2B buyers said that they started their purchase journey with a general web search. In such a scenario, the website and the website content are major factors in decision-making for the customer.

The current Apple.com website is below. Minimalistic, nuanced, wieldy, and aesthetically pleasing.

Source: www.apple.com

Source: www.apple.com

The user experience on websites today has gained massive prominence, and rightly so.

How can you improve the experience of a user along with gaining benefits? Here are a few simple points to consider:

  1. Select one major theme for the website.
    What is the one thing that you are wanting to convey using your website? Make your website about it.
  2. Understand what questions would people visiting the website ask. Answer them.
    Anticipate and analyze what your potential customers might want to know. Ensure that you are answering them on the website using appropriate content. Nothing pleases the customer more than getting exactly what he wants!
  3. Make it intuitive.
    Don’t make your customers think! Rather, guide them to do what you would want them to do.
  4. Make it easy for users to reach you.
    Ensure that your contact details are there for the customers to reach you easily.
  5. Improve page speed.
    Nothing is more annoying for a customer than to wait for a website page to load. Today, time is the most precious thing.
  6. Make it interactive.
    The use of interactive media to engage the audience with high-quality content is the need of the hour for businesses.
  7. Optimize it for the mobile.
    Mobile web browsing has become very prominent in today’s world. In 2016, mobile web browsing overtook the traditional desktop web browsing for the first time. Hence, you must look at optimizing your website for the mobile.

Social Media

Social media today is a necessary evil – it is a double-edged sword. While positive reviews can massively enhance brand image, negative reviews also spread like wildfire, adversely impacting the brand. Customers are all over social media; they are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. In just a decade, social media users have almost tripled! And that is huge!

Users of social media

Source: Statista

Further, these users are on social media all the time.

Source: PEW Research

In such a scenario, if your brand is not on social media, you are certainly missing out catering to your potential customers. To add to that, your competitors certainly are, so you know where your potential customers are going.

How can you make the user experience better for your customers on social media?

  1. Be where your customers are.
    Understand the social media channels that your customers might use and ensure that you have a strong presence there.
  2. Have meaningful conversations to keep your customers engaged.
    The idea of using social media is not just to sell to your customers. It is to engage with them in meaningful ways. So, leverage it effectively to understand what your customers might prefer rather than use it just as a medium for sales.
  3. Reply promptly.
    The current generation of social media users is one that has little patience. Ensure that you address grievances and questions as quickly as possible. According to Statista, over 60% of the customers expect a response in less than 24 hours.
  4. Invest in technology.
    You might want to invest in technology to ensure that your response times are quicker. Also, tracking every mention on the social media becomes less effort-taking with technology at your disposal.
  5. Personalize your messages
    Millions of people across the world are reading your responses. Do not sound robotic; rather, add the human touch to your messages. Customers are sure to appreciate it.
  6. Leverage information to create the customer journey.
    The information and feedback that you receive from social media channels can help you map the customer journey effectively, aiding in providing a great customer experience.

Mobile Phone

The mobile phone is ubiquitous. Over two-thirds of the world population has a mobile phone. And while the smartphone is not as common as a regular cellphone, its growth has been nothing short of meteoric.

Source: PEW Research

The fact that most people check their phones within five minutes of waking up is a testimony of how much importance it holds for today’s generation. The average user spends over three hours each day on the mobile. Moreover, the usage of apps have also massively increased in recent times. While smartphones have revolutionized the way the world communicates, they have also changed the face of customer experience. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that in today’s world, mobile-first must be the anthem for all businesses. So, to not be left behind, businesses must optimize the mobile experience for users.

Here are a few ways in which mobile experience can be improved.

  1. Focus on design for small touch-enabled screens.
    It is annoying for users to zoom in on small fonts or click on pictures or items that are small and not clearly visible. Moreover, the alignment of text is greatly distorted for mobile devices. Many times, the product details are also so small that it becomes difficult for users to see them clearly and thus make purchase decisions. Designing for the mobile keeping in mind that your customers are going to be reading on a small-screen will definitely eliminate such flaws. Also, ensure that the images are used with care. There, again, might be distortions because these devices are much smaller than desktops.
  2. Make the navigation intuitive and simple.
    You must remember to keep apps simple and intuitive. A less cumbersome sign-up process would help greatly in improving the experience. Ensure that much information is not asked and avoid the use of long forms.
  3. Use progressive disclosure.
    This technique aims at reducing clutter and confusion in design so that the objective of a user is met with minimal effort. Progressive disclosure also bridges the gap between the two needs of a user – the need to have more power when using an app and the need for the app to be simple.
  4. Add a search option.
    What the user is looking for might not always be on the homepage. It helps to have a search menu that might help the user to look out for what he exactly wants.
  5. Reduce the page-loading time.
    Just as the loading time of a website must be fast, the loading time of an app also must be fast to cater to the demands of today’s customers.
  6. Ensure that a seamless experience of the brand is provided.
    With the entire digital world being so closely connected, you must ensure that you provide a one-company experience by integrating the various touch points of the customer. For instance, a customer might start off his search for a product on the website, and then move to the app to finally make his purchase. In such a case, he must be able to take off from where he left.

In sum, a digital experience can be defined as that sum total of all the experiences that a customer has with a brand using digital technologies such as the mobile phones and the computers. Going digital is the way forward for all brands. While it has made it easy for companies to interact with their customers, it has also made customers more demanding. Due to the proliferation of digital interfaces, brands must take the onus to improve the digital experience to provide more convenience to customers.

Ultimately, your brand’s experience is largely defined by its digital experience. It is an opportunity to businesses to grab – improve your customers’ digital experience and you have enhanced the overall customer experience by several notches!

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