In 2020, a solid customer experience strategy still is going to count when looking to stand out from your competitors. In fact, Gartner reports that 81 percent of executives believe they’ll compete on customer experience alone in the near future, yet only 22 percent claim to have developed an experience that exceeds customer expectations. But what is a digital customer experience and how does it enhance your overall CX? Make sure you have a good understanding of this concept to ensure a successful 2020.
What is Digital Customer Experience?
According to Harvard Business Review, digital customer experience includes those experienced through a digital interface, like a computer, tablet, or smartphone. These types of experience encompass everything that can happen digitally, including researching a product online, using a mobile app to find a store’s nearest location, and searching for tech support information on a smartphone. There is much that differentiates a digital customer experience from a physical CX. In a physical location, a large group of factors determine the customer’s experience, such as how other customers are behaving, the environment’s overall atmosphere, and its physical location – all things that might be outside of the business’ direct control, so are factors a customer can forgive. Yet, online customers are much less lenient. For instance, a study found that a ten-second wait for a page to load can make 50% of consumers give up and leave. Researchers at Microsoft also learned that a website begins losing traffic to competitors when it takes 250 milliseconds longer to load. Clearly, online customers expect their digital experience to meet their expectations, so delays and other hiccups are not an option.
The Best Digital Customer Experience Strategy
Too many companies are still entering 2020 without a digital customer strategy. Fortunately, we have curated some tips:
Consistency creates loyalty, and relies on internal IT
A customer’s impression of a brand is made up of individual touchpoints. Therefore, a company should concentrate on providing a consistent digital experience by investing in dedicated software systems that can streamline and automate customer-facing processes, thereby reducing errors and inconsistencies. One way to create reliability is through omnichannel support software, which does not require customers to repeat themselves. Omnichannel software has the advantage of centralizing all communications, streamlining the customer’s digital experience and therefore building loyalty.
Visual consistency matters
Surface-level consistency is important in this day and age. Make sure the visual look of your product or interface doesn’t vary across channels.
To improve the digital experience over time, use opinion-gathering tools
In order to find opportunities for improvement, companies should ask their customers’ opinions. The potential of getting negative feedback is possible, but don’t let it deter you. Instead, ask customers directly how you meet their expectations via survey-gathering software.
Consider the customer journey
Just because something is digital doesn’t mean it is convenient for consumers. Instead of simply adding something digital to an experience in the hopes that it increases customer engagement, add a component to a step along the customer’s digital journey with which they are already interacting.
While digital is only one aspect of the customer experience, it still is one that should warrant much of your attention in 2020.
How Can You Improve Digital Customer Experience?
There are several strategies you can take in 2020 to improve your digital customer experience. According to CoreDNA, there are eleven trends you should watch out for:
1. AI will continue to develop
Thanks to the IoT, we live in a world that is hyper-connected, expects real-time responses, and seeks instantaneous responsive feedback. CoreDNA makes the point that with 5G on the horizon, consumers will expect things even faster by the end of 2020. This is important to note since, according to Conversocial, nearly 66 percent of customers switch brands after they feel they’ve experienced poor customer service. So, make sure you’re ahead of that statistic by meeting customers where they are, utilizing social media messaging such as Facebook Messenger alongside AI and chatbots. Social media messaging is key as it allows full chat functionality, persistent customer identity and mobile notifications. This, in turn, allows brands to automate and personalize their responses. To leverage this trend, CoreDNA recommends experimenting with emerging technologies such as smart speakers, digital signage, VR, beacons, and wearable devices. These all provide opportunities to intrigue consumers with AI-enabled experiences in-store, and even in their own homes and vehicles. To make the first step toward this strategy, you’ll need to leverage a headless content management system (which has no default front-end system to determine how the content is presented to the end user) or decoupled CMS (in which your content is managed separately and is front-end agnostic, but allows you to use a template if you choose) to manage your content in a way that’s ready for any device or channel.
2. Voice commerce will come into its own
Many companies are showing that they are willing to adopt voice assistant technology. Alongside companies, consumer behavior has begun to gravitate toward voice-activated speakers. Think with Google reports that 72 percent of people who own a voice-activated speaker such as Google Home or Amazon Echo use these devices as a part of their daily routine. While we have seen a multitude of eCommerce brands sell their product or service through voice commerce, this trend is expected to continue to rise in 2020. According to OC & C, experts predict that voice commerce sales in the US will reach $40 billion in 2022, up from $1.8 billion in 2017. Stay one step ahead of competitors by utilizing headless commerce, which is a CMS that stores, manages and delivers content without a front-end delivery layer. This means that developers can use APIs to deliver products, blog posts or customer reviews to any screen or device, while front-end developers can work on how to present that content using any framework they choose. Therefore, brands can develop eCommerce experiences on a range of devices, including smart speakers like Amazon Echo.
3. Customers expect hyper-personalized experiences
Internet Retailing reports that less than 50 percent of brands are actually delivering the personalized experience that 69 percent of customers want. Customers expect companies to reach out to them in personal ways, including through channels such as emails, newsletters, and product recommendations that are formulated from the customer’s previous purchases. This makes the shopping experience even easier for consumers, which, at the end of the day, is what everyone really wants. In order to fulfill this expectation, brands can leverage more and more IoT devices to access in-depth data about their customers than ever before. This data can be used to pinpoint customer’s pain points, buying habits, and interactions they had with agents previously to deliver a highly personalized service.
4. Emphasize the employee experience
The link between customer and employee experience is powerful. According to a study done by NEXTTEN, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%. 2020 will likely showcase an emphasis on surveying employee satisfaction, deploying intranets and extranets, and introducing incentives, among others. Customer retention will increase in environments where staffs are offered a tangible bonus in exchange for achieving positive results. Start the New Year by evaluating your employee experience. One way to ensure it is positive is to create a portal in which your brand can deliver personalized messages across a multitude of devices that will help improve employee engagement.
5. More bots will assist both business and consumers
Chatbots have proven to be a crucial virtual assistant for businesses by helping to deliver product information and even hold an engaging conversation without being awkward. As long as chatbots can resolve customer queries as quickly as possible, customers will have a good experience. And since speed is a determining factor in how a customer perceives a brand, chatbots are being created to add further support to customer service teams.
6. Staff training will shift to online portals and collaboration tools
In order to streamline training and make an effective use of resources, more brands will utilize online training portals. Instead of roping staff into days-long meetings for training, management can enact training on-the-go. Staff will provide a better CX as a result of receiving more up-to-date information. In order to leverage this trend, digitally transform your staff training procedures. All staff training documentation can be held on your employee experience platforms. As this platform is online and can reach out to multiple devices, you can include media files like video, audio and other interactive content that will increase employee engagement. Staff will be able to do this on their own time at a pace that suits them, so training sessions will not hinder your staff’s time.
7. Consumers will continue to value transparency
In 2020, stay true to your company’s values. Leverage Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to foster good relationships with your employees. Recent research from Sprout Social reports that 83 percent of customers say they want brands to be friendly, in their communications on social media and 86% of consumers want them to be honest. To leverage this trend, be open in your communication with consumers and comply with GDRP, which is a data privacy law enacted by the EU.
8. Predictive analytics will continue to be impactful
Predictive analytics use machine learning, statistical algorithms, and previous customer data to identify future outcomes. This will play a significant role in optimizing marketing campaigns by helping brands pinpoint customer responses and improving operations through forecasting inventory and managing resources. Utilize predictive analytics tools in order to fully leverage these trends. IBM and SAP both provide proprietary analytics solutions that ensure the data you’re analyzing is well-protected under their service level agreement and aren’t exposed to people who don’t have the best intentions.
9. Omnichannel solutions will gain more focus
Omnichannel solutions give consumers a consistent experience from touchpoint to touchpoint. For example, a customer can start their experience with you on social media and then move onto your mobile and website. As more devices are connected due to the IoT, customers will continue to expect the same experience streamlined across devices like connected cars, smart TVs and appliances. To get ahead of this trend, invest in a headless CMS in order to power a voice-enabled customer experience. This will allow you to deliver content from anywhere, which will allow you to track your customers.
10. Investing in augmented reality
AR overlays visuals and information onto a real-world setting. Early adopters are utilizing this trend for product demonstrations and customer support. For instance, cosmetics company L’Oreal uses AR technology to allow customers to “try on” certain products before they purchase them. As we expect 5G to be a main player very soon, more brands are expected to experiment in delivering AR experiences across non-WiFi areas. So, your own company should adapt this trend by experimenting with an AR app. A headless CMS works very well to support AR since this technology relies on both media and text-heavy content. It can be reused and repurposed for any device since it acts as a central repository for storing content, including both AR and VR devices. To future-proof your content, investing in a headless AR is a wise move.
11. Increased security measures
To support personalization, brands need to invest more in attaining data about their customers. However, this move can make customers nervous. To reassure consumers, brands should protect their data by upping their security protocols or shifting to a cloud-based infrastructure that provides a much better and more comprehensive data management. Further, brands will continue to make use of biometric technology like voice biometrics, fingerprint ID and facial recognition to ensure customers are safer, have access to convenience and are secure. One way to do this is to invest in a secure infrastructure by taking stock of CMS vendors’ security measures. Yet, be careful as not all solutions are reliably secure. For instance, it is not recommended that brands use open-source solution since it will be your responsibility to look after the system and install security updates. Plus, open-source software allows anyone to access the source code, including rogue developers who can insert malicious code. On the other hand, proprietary software does not share its source code with anyone, only the people who are authorized to maintain and look after the software. While it might seem like a lot to take in, many brands have already upped their security protocols. Firms like Amazon, eBay, and LinkedIn have started incorporating two-factor out-of-band authentication, where a second item like voice or code confirmation is used to confirm the user’s identity.
Seeking even more insight into customer experience best practices? Read one of our previous blogs on the subject, including “What is Customer Experience?”, “Customer Experience Management: What It Is and Why It’s Important”, “What’s the Best Way to Improve Customer Experience?”, and “How Can You Create an Actionable Customer Experience Strategy?”.
Looking to implement the best digital customer experience for your patrons? Our artificial intelligence assistant Sophie is here to offer 24/7 customer experience solutions by personalizing your clients’ experiences. To learn more, contact us today.
Read more about Stefanini’s approach to customizing your customer service strategy here