The pandemic has radically shifted consumer expectations of what’s possible online and businesses that don’t transform their digital customer experience will fall behind and risk becoming irrelevant in their market.
We are now in a new stage of innovation with digital solutions rapidly advancing to address post-pandemic behavioural change, which in turn further heightens customer expectations. According to recent research, 62% of consumers expect more convenience from brands as a result of Covid-19 and 44% say their digital customer experience has improved since the pandemic began.
Clearly, some companies are successfully taking steps to provide cutting edge services. But those stats suggest many others aren’t implementing the digital transformation they need. This is no time to make do with a digital service that simply does the job, it needs to excel. That’s why the 77% of decision-makers surveyed who describe their company’s website’s performance as ‘great’ may actually be standing still and losing ground on their competition.
To truly develop leading digital customer experiences, digital platforms must meet and keep up with the evolving habits, concerns and needs of the people it serves – the customers.
One group of businesses that has managed to do this successfully are Hollywood’s film and TV studios, who were put on the backfoot by the rise of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple.
As this Harvard Business Review article explains, they were slow to react to the threat, but once they realised doing nothing wasn’t an option, they quickly embraced digitisation and new business models. That has led to the launch of digital platforms that give them direct access to customers and the ability to play the disruptors at their own game. They have created a new revenue stream both from loyal fans of their brands and new customers eager to access a range of entertainment digitally.
So how can your business ensure it is providing a digital customer experience that engages today’s digital-first consumers? Here are seven key points to consider.
1. Understand what makes your audience tick
The consumer of three years ago isn’t the same as the consumer of today. Digitisation has accelerated and the way the consumers engages with digital platforms has moved on. For example, recent research found 82% of customers expect brands to be available 24/7. One key element of understanding your audience is the development, and constant reassessment, of customer personas. These provide up to the minute information about how people access your business online, what their content preferences are and where their journey stalls. However a recent Gartner survey found just 36% of respondents reported their organisations had personas in place for three years or more.
2. Put purpose into your digital platforms
Digital-first consumers are wise to the hard sell. If your digital platform doesn’t share the values people associate with your brand and feels like a purely money-making exercise, they are less likely to embrace it. Part of the success of the Hollywood studios mentioned above, comes down to the way their digital transformations tied in with their mission to put brilliant entertainment in front of their audience in the best way possible. Of course, each business’s USP will be different, for example a car insurer may pride itself on providing a personalised, hassle-free service in the event of an accident. Their task would be to replicate that in their digital experiences.
3. Connect digitisation and sustainability
For many organisations, a key pillar of the purpose mentioned above is sustainability. The internet now has a larger carbon footprint than the aviation industry and acting on that is a key ethical and business concern given the rising number of conscious consumers. A digital carbon strategy will identify ways you can reduce the emissions associated with your digital presence and the real-world processes it triggers, such as the delivery of an item. Often this will result in a faster, streamlined online customer journey which, in a win-win for your business, also delivers a better digital customer experience.
4. Make sure digital platforms are accessible
Around 1 in 5 people in the UK live with a long-term impairment, illness or disability. Often they struggle to navigate websites that aren’t built with their needs in mind, which leaves both a large section of the population disenfranchised and a large potential market ignored. During a digital business transformation accessibility should play a central role in the design strategy, informing everything from the colours and fonts used, to the individual steps each customer takes.
5. Create an experience that welcomes everyone
Following on closely from accessibility is inclusivity. How well does your digital customer experience cater to all sections of society? This means thinking carefully about the barriers different communities face, language for instance, and how your digital platform can overcome them. In turn this will enable your business to develop a deeper connection with often underserved groups of people. This loops back to the first point about understanding your audience and monitoring where the digital customer experience is failing them.
6. Provide seamless customer journeys
Perhaps the most famous example of the power of an efficient customer journey is Amazon’s one-click-buy capability. The business benefits of such frictionless digitisation is clear and innovators are searching for even faster, simpler and more secure ways to interact with customers. This ranges from technology that will make the onerous task of juggling numerous passwords a thing of the past to using application programming interfaces (APIs) to bring together digital solutions from different providers in one seamless process.
7. Entice customers with innovative offers
Offering deals on a price will always attract some buyers, but it won’t necessarily differentiate your brand from its competitors and create loyal consumers. Responding to what drives your customers’ buying decisions will help you develop features that truly speak to their needs. For example, cosmetic company Estée Lauder uses QR codes to take people to a virtual skincare analysis tool, where it makes personalised product recommendations. While Dyson allows you to explore its full range of products using virtual reality.
In today’s ecommerce economy, the digital customer experience is king. Incorporating these key points into your strategy will ensure your business is a leader in your sector, providing seamless experiences that drive growth. With 46% of consumers saying they are less forgiving of a poor online experience than before the pandemic, there is a pressing business imperative to get this right.
To do this takes a culture of innovation. As a digital consultancy with expertise in customer experience, we can help build this in your organisation. Our services include auditing your current customer experience before developing and implementing digital solutions, and measuring their success.
To find how our digital agency can support your digital business transformation book a discovery call.