With the acceleration of digital technologies over the last decade, customer behavior has shifted. Customers have now come to expect and rely on a range of digital experiences underpinned by cutting-edge technologies like AI and machine learning. The growth of data science can’t be underestimated here. These amazing new digital experiences are only possible because companies have advanced dramatically in collecting and analyzing data.
If you want to stay ahead of the competition and give your customers the best digital experiences possible in 2021, you need to be deliberate. Compelling customer digital experiences don’t happen by accident. Instead, they are cultivated and curated.
Ready to level up your digital experiences? Follow these six best practices.
Why Customer Experience is So Important
In 2021, customer experience is how companies compete. The Temkin Group survey found that 45.9% of businesses said their top priority in the next five years was customer experience. In second place was product at 33.6%, and in third place, was the price at 20.5%. You read that right! Price is now one of the least competitive parts of doing business. Why? Because customer expectations have evolved. Customers today understand that there’s a lot of choices out there. They can find several products in a similar price range, all with a few clicks. With so many similar options available, customers start to look for something else that can elevate their experience with a brand.
Here are some other recent statistics you should know about customer experience today:
- 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
- Surveys have found that there are three main reasons why businesses invest in customer experience. These are:
- To improve cross-selling and upselling.
- To improve customer satisfaction.
- To improve customer retention.
- The 2020 PWC report found that the number of companies investing in the omnichannel experience jumped from 20% to over 80%.
- 57% of customers won’t recommend a business if the mobile experience is poor.
- 52% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile.
- 72% of customers share their positive experiences with 6 or more people. By contrast, 13% of customers who have a negative share it with 15 or more people. Bad experiences lead to customer churn.
6 Best Digital CX Practices
1. Listen to the Experts!
While it’s important to listen to customers, you should reconcile customer wants with experts’ advice. Experts have studied digital CX and come up with evidence-based strategies. Here are some things you should pay close attention to:
The Customer Lifecycle
Experts break down the customer experience into logical chunks. By understanding these stages, you can begin to design a comprehensive digital strategy that wows customers. There are generally considered to be seven key stages to the customer lifecycle:
- Awareness: It has to be easy for customers to find you. Make sure you’re present in online spaces by engaging with industry leaders, customers, and consumers in your sector. Create content that drives traffic and adds value to your potential customers.
- Discovery: Customers want to engage with you in this stage. They might want to learn more about your product, download your app, or talk to a sales team member. Make it easy for them to do this. Consider offering free trials so potential customers can get a closer look at how your product works.
- Evaluation: This is where customers decide between your product and a competitor’s product. Make sure you clearly and concisely spell out why your product is great. Potential customers shouldn’t have to look hard for answers to their questions in this stage.
- Conversion: Offer secure digital payment options and preferably a range of different payment options.
- Experience: CX doesn’t stop because the customer has bought your product. If you want to grow your business, you need brand advocates, and you only create these by providing stellar CX all the time. Keep your customers in the loop about any updates and new features. Invite your customers to webinars or send them content that will be valuable to them.
- Support: Be ready to resolve any customer issues that come your way. You should provide as much choice as possible, for example, live chat, chatbots, phone, email, and social media.
- Buy Again: Recommend similar products or upgrades that your customers might enjoy. It’s essential to hyper-personalize this experience for the best results.
Others Tips from Experts:
- CX drives growth – Companies that focus on customer experience grow 5 times faster than the companies lagging behind. If you want to grow your company, you have to put CX at the forefront of all your activities.
- Prepare to scale up – Your digital experience solutions should be scalable, even if you experience rapid growth. Don’t make the mistake of implementing solutions that you will struggle to scale in the future—design with scalability in mind.
- Invest in AI – AI and automation will bring your digital experiences to life and free up employee time to spend on more creative pursuits.
- Create consistent omnichannel experiences. A fragmented customer experience is a poor customer experience. Your customers should
2. Segment Your Audience
If you’re still treating your customers as one big monolith, you’re making a mistake. It’s likely that your customers are buying your product for varied reasons, even if their motivations sometimes align. You will have much more success converting customers if you can create unique digital experiences that align with each customer segment.
There are many different ways you can segment your customers:
- Demographics – Gender, age, income, marital status, education.
- Geographic – Region, country, state, city, town.
- Psychographic – Values, interests/hobbies, personality.
- Technographic – Whether they use mobile devices, desktop, apps.
- Behavioral – Based on which features they interact with and the frequency of interaction.
- Needs-based – For example, customers with increased accessibility needs due to disability.
- Value-based – Segmenting customers based on their economic value. For example, customers who buy infrequently, customers who buy often but typically don’t spend a lot of money, and customers who buy your most expensive products.
Once you’ve created your customer segments, you can begin to personalize their experiences. For example, you might want to market specific products to your most high-value customers but not to your infrequent customers (because they are unlikely to convert). Similarly, you might notice patterns like how customers in younger age ranges customers with high economic value are rarely. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on these customers. However, it does mean that you might want to focus on your cheaper product range in new marketing campaigns targeted towards this segment (say, 15 to 25-year-olds).
3. Leverage Emotion
A key component of customer experiences, whether digital or not, is human emotion. Emotion is what captivates your audience, makes your brand memorable, and ultimately encourages potential customers to convert. One study found that 92% of customers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand when a positive emotion is created. Additionally, 88% of customers will spend more, and 91% will be willing to advocate for your brand.
If you want to break away from the pack, you need to focus on establishing emotional connections with your customers.
The Harvard Business Review created a list of over 300 motivators that span industries, segments, and brands. Here are the most prominent ones that apply to customers no matter your industry:
- Standing out from the crowd: The customer wants to feel unique and special.
- Confidence in the future: The customer feels positive about the future and what’s coming around the corner.
- A sense of well-being: They feel that life measures up to their expectations. They want stress and conflict-free experiences.
- Freedom: They want to be independent and choose freely.
- Thrill: They want to be excited or thrilled by a product or experience.
- Belonging: They want to feel like a valued member of a community.
- Protecting the environment: They are motivated by sustainability issues, and their purchasing habits reflect this.
- Security: Customers who feel secure about what tomorrow will bring and want to pursue goals without worry have a more positive buying experience.
One of the more surprising findings from this report is that customers often misreport their emotional connection to a digital experience. For example, customers who engage in omnichannel experiences are proven to be more emotionally connected to the company, and therefore more profitable. However, customers will often report that something else had a bigger emotional impact on them, even when the data doesn’t reflect this. To avoid investing your resources in the wrong places, you should invest in customer data analysis software.
4. Track Customer Behavior and Sentiment
If you’re not measuring customer satisfaction, then now is the time to start. Here are some metrics you should be focusing on:
- Intent: What was the customer looking for when they landed on your webpage? Where did they come from?
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): This is a simple survey where the customer is only asked one question; “How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend?”. The goal of the NPS is to measure brand perception.
- Customer Effort Score (CES) – The customer’s perceived ease when using a product or service. It can also be an indicator of loyalty level throughout the customer journey.
- Sentiment – Tracking mentions of your brand on social media to determine the overall sentiment towards your brand.
You should also be tracking customer behavior by keeping a record of past purchase history, interactions with customer service, and interactions with your digital channels.
5. Make it Easy to Access Customer Support
Far too many companies make it too difficult for customers to access customer support. If your customer support details are hidden away on a webpage that is hard to find and requires many click-throughs, something needs to change. If a customer finds it hard to contact you, they will think you’re making it hard intentionally. The negative emotions they are already experiencing will be exacerbated.
6. Make Self-Service a Priority
Customers don’t always want to talk to someone; sometimes, they want to solve the issue themselves. Offer customer knowledge bases, product guides, blog posts, and of course, chatbots. A major aspect of providing excellent customer experiences is offering convenience.
Here are some tips for your self-service channels:
- Make it simple to use. Don’t overwhelm your customers with too many options that might not apply to their situation. Instead, ask them simple questions in a tree-like structure to give them the most relevant answer.
- Avoid jargon. You should be using the language your customers use.
- Incentivize self-service, but don’t force it. Many companies try to force customers down a self-service route when the customer knows they have a complex issue that needs a pair of human eyes. Don’t do this.