How operations leaders can leverage digital customer experience to get ahead

Dhiraj Nallapaneni

10 min read Last Updated Sep 17, 2020

digital customer experience

As an operations leader, it’s essential that your business offers world-class customer experiences. But the very nature of customer experience is changing rapidly. Today, customers increasingly engage with businesses through digital channels. The best businesses are those that are able to offer great experience both physically and digitally. 

In this guide, we’ll break down the fundamentals of digital customer experience and talk about some unique ways you can optimize your digital customer journey. 

What is ‘digital customer experience’? 

Customer experience is the sum of all of a customer’s encounters with your brand, from the moment of first discovery. Digital customer experience, on the other hand, is your customers’ interactions with your business online. Everything from researching your business on review sites, to booking an appointment through your website, and even doing a live chat with one of your representatives, falls under the umbrella of digital customer experience. 

Why is digital customer experience important? 

As digital channels increasingly become a more significant part of customers’ everyday lives, they play a larger role in customers’ purchase decisions. As a result, strong digital customer experience is no longer optional. It’s table stakes. 

digital customer experience key areas

The connection between digital transformation and customer experience

Improving your digital experience helps to improve the overall experience. Here’s how. 

  • Digital transformation makes your processes more efficient. Offering a better digital customer experience can reduce the amount of work for your team. For example, if your business solely relies on phone and email, then your support team must manually respond to each customer query. Using a digital chatbot can reduce this work through automation. 
  • Digital transformation helps you quickly adapt to emergencies. During the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns, many businesses ceased operations entirely to comply with local guidelines. However, businesses that had already taken the initiative to move some of their operations digitally continued to serve customers with little to no friction. No matter what happens in the physical world, digital transformation will allow your business to continue operating as normal. 

Common misconceptions about digital customer experience 

Here are a couple of common myths about digital customer experience. 

Digital customer experience only matters for purely digital companies 

Some managers might be comfortable spending more time and resources on physical customer experience if they do not explicitly sell goods or services online. They might think that since most of the actual customer experience occurs physically, digital customer experience is an afterthought. 

However, it’s essential to recognize that even if your business offers no digital services, potential customers will inevitably look at your business online to determine trustworthiness and credibility and try to get in contact with your team. For example, a potential customer looking for new furniture might use online reviews and the websites of local businesses to ultimately make their purchase decision. 

Digital customer experience only helps with sales and marketing 

Digital customer experience doesn’t just help prospects discover your business. It can also help you communicate with your existing customers and provide high-quality customer service. 

Since customers are spending more time online, they are no longer satisfied with getting customer service from traditional communication mediums like phone calls. A study by Econsultancy found that live chat has the highest customer satisfaction of any communication channel. Digital tools such as live chat are key to providing great experience. 

How can digital customer experience be improved? 

Improving digital customer experience is a continuous process. Here are a few ways to make sure that your business is offering a world-class digital experience. 

Map the customer journey 

You may be familiar with customer journey mapping, the process of illustrating the entire journey from a prospect first becoming aware of your business to becoming a loyal customer advocate. While some of you have probably done this activity already, it’s also important to do this activity from a purely digital perspective. 

customer journey stages

The first step is to try going through the digital journey your customers go through. Start from the stage when they become aware of your product or service – through all touchpoints and on different devices. This will give you a good understanding of what your customers may be experiencing. For example, see if a potential customer can find all the relevant information they need to contact you. See how easy it is for your customers to reach you, how long it takes, and what the interaction with your agent looks like. 

If you’re interested in getting more data that can help you build these digital customer journey maps, there are tools that can help. Consider getting a web analytics tool like Hotjar. Tools like this show you where customers are clicking the most on your website and can show you recordings of real customer sessions. You might notice customers dropping off in certain parts of the journey, which can alert you to issues in your digital customer experience. 

Focus on mobile

Customers are shifting away from traditional desktop browsing to mediums like mobile and even voice search. Studies have shown that more than 50% of Internet browsing is through mobile devices. So make sure that you optimize your website for customers who are browsing your website on their smartphones. Otherwise, you risk having your customers exiting your site in frustration. Here are a few ways that you can get started. 

  • Check all the web pages that you publish to make sure that they are fully functional and look good on mobile. 
  • While pop-ups are fine to use, remember that pop-ups are difficult to exit on mobile devices and hurt the digital customer experience.
  • Make sure that the copy on your website is easy to read on a mobile device. Keep paragraphs short and make sure that your font is at least 14 px. 

Offering personalization 

An ideal customer experience in the physical world typically consists of a friendly and warm employee who can anticipate your needs and give you personalized attention. The same concept applies to the digital world, as well. 74% of customers actually say they feel frustrated when a web page isn’t personalized. 

Here are a few ways that you can get started personalizing your digital customer experience. 

  • Segment your customer database based on different demographics. Test out different marketing messages that might resonate better for each group. For example, married couples with children might respond better to messaging that highlights how your business is family-friendly. 
  • Keep records of previous interactions readily available. That way, a representative can look at the record to follow up and ensure that any previous problems the customer has experienced are resolved. 
  • Set up communications based on past purchase behaviors. For example, a customer who made a purchase at a retailer’s July 4th sale can receive a text message informing them about the next upcoming sale. 

Offer live chat and chatbot solutions 

As we said earlier, email and text do not provide the seamless contact experience that customers are looking for. A customer can rarely use either of these mediums and expect to be put in contact with a representative immediately. 

But a live chat widget can solve the problem. All a customer has to do is type a query into the chatbox and automatically connect with a representative.

Of course, sending all customer queries directly to a live representative might be overwhelming for your team. That’s why we recommend that businesses consider using chatbots. These are automated programs that can be programmed to handle common questions specific to your business Chatbots can handle simple queries, giving your team more time to handle the more complex questions. 

Use video  

Video is more engaging than text or a static image, and it can make a big impact on a potential customer. A video is a great way to explain your services to potential customers or even send a personalized thank-you. Aaron Novello, head of the Novello Group in South Florida, sends a personalized video to every new client thanking them for choosing him. 

Video is also an excellent way for your team to connect with customers. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a traditional phone call, there is the possibility that certain things will get lost in translation when a customer can’t see your representative’s facial expressions. On the other hand, video calls prevent this miscommunication from occurring. 

Reevaluate internal tools 

Your team needs the right tools for success to offer a great customer experience. Unnecessarily complicated tools make it difficult for your employees to provide service to customers. 

One method to determine whether employees are happy with the tools that are currently available is to collect employee feedback. In addition to asking questions about how they feel about their overall experience at the company, ask whether they feel that the tools they are using to communicate with customers are simple. If the answer is no, it might be time to explore other options. 

How to measure digital customer experience 

The first step to managing and improving your brand’s digital customer experience is looking at relevant metrics. Here are 3 metrics that can help you better understand whether your brand is proving a quality digital experience. 

User intent 

It’s important to make sure that your web pages align with what customers are looking for. That means paying close attention to the material that’s ranking high in relevant search queries. 

To see whether your pages are satisfying user intent, look at the pages that are ranking high for the keywords that you wish to rank for. For example, a contractor business might want to rank for “fixing my roof”. Take at the results in the first page of Google search results. Do they have videos? Are they how-to guides? What questions are they answering from customers? Asking these questions will give you a better understanding of what customers are looking for when they are doing this search and help you build web pages that match user intent. 

Unfortunately, there’s no one metric that shows how well your website is satisfying user intent. However, there are metrics that can help you come up with reasonable guesses. Look at bounce rate, the percentage of page visitors who leave your site,  and time on page, which shows how long customers are staying on your web pages. 

Net promoter score 

Net promoter score (NPS) asks how likely customers are to family and friends recommend your business on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being the lowest option and 10 being the highest. If you find that customers who came in through digital channels are unsatisfied, that’s a sign that your website needs improvement. 

Touchpoint scores

A touchpoint survey asks customers about specific points within a digital customer journey. For example, a customer who books an appointment online might get a survey via email asking how easy that specific experience was. While NPS surveys can gauge the quality of your business’s overall digital experience, touchpoint surveys can help you identify individual areas needing further attention. 

Build a winning customer experience from end-to-end 

Want to know more about how your business can start offering a winning customer experience. Check out our eBook. It contains some tips and tricks that you can’t find in the article.

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