Driving better digital experiences for your customers

customer journey

In today’s hyper-connected world, customers’ loyalty increasingly depends on your ability to design and deliver easy, emotionally engaging digital experiences. Not only are more consumers online than ever before – global internet usage has jumped from 24% in 2012 to more than 50% today – but they increasingly prefer to interact with organizations through their digital channels. But despite their popularity, digital experiences still lag behind in-person and phone experiences. 

Given the growing number of customers who are choosing to interact with companies through these digital channels, companies can no longer afford to deliver these substandard digital interactions.

Digital is rapidly becoming the backbone of customer loyalty, so if you want to remain competitive, you need to be thoughtful and deliberate about how you’re designing and managing customer experiences through these channels.

There are a few key ingredients to building a world-class digital experience to help you design and deliver experiences that drive customer spend, satisfaction, and loyalty.

The key components – What do you need to deliver first class digital experiences?

While the shift to digital does offer numerous benefits to organizations – reduced contact center costs, improved agent productivity, streamlined processes, etc. – it also presents them with a unique customer experience challenge.

Customers judge their experiences with a company along 3 dimensions.

  • Success = Where they able to achieve their goals?
  • Effort = How easy or difficult was it to achieve those goals?
  • Emotion = How did the interaction make them feel?

All of these are important but, it’s the emotion component that has the biggest impact on customer loyalty behaviors, including their likelihood to rebuy from, recommend, or trust the company.

The outsized impact of emotions on customer experience is particularly problematic in digital. First, digital channels are inherently cold/static. People are naturally social, and interacting with other people is more emotionally stimulating than interacting with a digital interface.   That’s why everyone is talking about humanizing digital experiences as the secret weapon.

Second, most organizations design digital experiences to communicate information as quickly and efficiently as possible, appealing to customers’ rational thinking rather than to their emotions. And while delivering “effortless” experiences can be good to an extent, as digital channels increasingly become the only method by which customers interact with an organization, overemphasizing ‘effortlessness’ is likely to leave customers without any emotional attachments to the company.

92% of people who gave a high score for ‘emotion’ said they were more likely to purchase more from that company.

Digital platforms can feel emotionless. So, let’s bring the emotion back into digital.  Experience Management is the key to emotional digital experiences. Strengthening your Experience Management helps you continually collect and analyze customer feedback and behavioral signals through digital channels, share those insights with the appropriate people across the business, and then take meaningful action to improve the experience both in digital, and the overall brand experience.

The ability to continuously collect and analyze feedback and behavioral signals – is an inherent part of a digital interaction. Not only do digital channels automatically generate operational data , they also provide a platform to gather experience data  by asking customers about their perceptions, motivations, feelings, and attitudes. 

Combining the operational data from background analytics together with the Customer Experience data generated from onsite feedback helps to produce richer, more actionable insights, which will enable you to design more emotionally engaging digital experiences.

Hear the voice of your customers in a consistent and meaningful way, asking the right questions:

  • Why is the customer behaving this way?
  • What was the purpose of the customer visit to the site or app?
  • Where they successful at completing their purpose?
  • How easy or difficult was it for the customer to complete their task?
  • How satisfied is the customer with their digital interactions?
  • How often does the customer visit and are they likely to increase visits?
  • How loyal is the customer and digital play a part in guiding this?

Understanding the digital experience means bringing together all the different digital interactions your customers have in order to understand the complete experience and make real-time adjustments to deliver the kinds of experiences customers will return to time and again. 

Report and Analyze

+ Overall site/app experience
+ Persistent feedback
+ Contextual/embedded data
+ System of action (alerts & smart routing)
+ System insight

Optimize through customer journey deep dives

+ Cart/buy/book
+ Support/get help
+ Manage account/pay bill
+ Enjoy/learn
+ Connect with others/company
+ Provide content/feedback
+ Track & Diagnose
+ Contextual/embedded data
+ System of action (alerts & smart routing)
​​​​+ System insight 

Drive change and transform

+ Closed loop follow-up
+ Segmentation + personalization 
+ Operational data integrations
​​​+ Journey deep dive
+ Track & Diagnose
+ Contextual/embedded data
+ System of action (alerts & smart routing)
+ System insight 

Step 1 – Report and Analyze

Get to know what’s working, as the key touchpoints to improve. 

The first step to improving your digital experiences is to focus on building a process for collecting insights to continuously analyze feedback and behavioral signals from visitors. 

​​​​​It’s best to start at the end, and reverse-engineer your system: start by thinking through your organization’s goals and how you want to visualize the data, then ask the questions that will get you there. 

You’ll also want to consider what metrics will move the needle within your organization and how you’ll want to visualize the information.  First, consider how you should visualize your data with an emphasis on verbatim analysis of unstructured data and powerful predictions about future behaviors. 

You’ll also want to consider what metrics will move the needle within your organization and how you’ll want to visualize the information.  First, consider how you should visualize your data with an emphasis on verbatim analysis of unstructured data and powerful predictions about future behaviors. 

To create an action plan, it’s essential to map out what information should reside where — for example, you might have everything in your customer experience platform, but most KPI scorecards for a digital experience have data coming from many different sources.  They key is setting aside the right resources to gather that data for reporting, analyzing the data to formulate action items for development. This process takes work but really pays off on guiding the overall strategy. 

Overall Site / app Experience and Persistent Feedback

Data you are getting from your customers from app feedback or web feedback options is likely to skew negative as people are going out of their way to tell you things, and it’s usually some thing is wrong.  Usually good to avoid straight customer satisfaction or ease of use type questions.  Save those to pro-active feedback requests.

The listening blocks established during this phase set the baseline for all future Digital Experience projects on your website or app. To better understand what needs to be improved, you first need to understand the overall site or app experience.

In your interaction with customers, there are plenty of key insights to glean.

Several of these metrics include: 

  • Primary purpose of visit
  • Task completion 
  • Ease of use
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Likelihood to return
  • Key drivers (navigation, content effectiveness, speed, visual appeal) 

The best way to understand what these metrics and key drivers are is to collect information on a visitor’s overall experience, which you can do by deploying an active feedback request (also known as an intercept) coupled with an “always on” persistent feedback channel that is more passive in nature.

The best way to understand what these metrics and key drivers are is to collect information on a visitor’s overall experience, which you can do by deploying an active feedback request (also known as an intercept) coupled with an “always on” persistent feedback channel that is more passive in nature.

Persistent feedback offers a way for visitors to vent their frustrations, like if they’re experiencing issues on the site or looking to engage with support.

Ideally your persistent feedback will include questions to distinguish the nature of the feedback being offered as well as an open-ended text field for additional information sharing and/or clarification — this helps you to uncover more meaningful analysis through text analytics to understand trending topics and sentiment.

Depending on your closed-loop strategy, you may also include an option for customers to request a follow-up and provide a form asking for contact information if and when appropriate.

A basic digital experience may contain some of these KPI’s but depending on the nature of your site you will need to be tracking all the key options, features, transactions etc.

Consider tracking

  • Page sessions
  • Users
  • Active users
  • Log Ins
  • Actions
  • Visitor ID
  • Visitor Demographics
  • Device types access
  • Time Spent

The Experience Data you gather on your overall site/app experience is a perfect place to start — and when you combine it with Operational Metrics from your web analytics and/or session replay data to get a more detailed understanding of their issue, it’s even more powerful.

While establishing these foundational listening block, you should also be sure to leverage contextual and embedded data wherever possible. It can also be helpful to use this request for feedback to determine who is on your digital property. 

Demographic and customer information may reveal key trends between customer segments. That said, many of your operational metrics can come into play here – you never want to ask the customer for information that you already have access to.

Step 2 – Optimize through customer journey deep dives

Once you have a good understanding of the overall site or app experience, you need to build on it with a deeper understanding of the fundamental journeys or common routes that people take to complete tasks on your digital properties. 

These key journeys should already be well known by way of your operational metrics; however, the “visitor intent” or “primary purpose” question you asked in your overall site/app experience touchpoint should confirm that list. 

If there are question marks at all, you can always ask an open-ended question or give visitors the opportunity to leave an “other” intention. 

Get detailed insights into the most critical customer journeys. Some common digital customer journey’s:

  • Pay Bill
  • Manage Accounts
  • Conduct Transactions
  • Manage Profile
  • Cart purchase
  • Cart Abandonment
  • Get Support
  • Learn
  • Browse
  • Give Feedback

To decide when and where to deploy a request for journey-specific feedback, it’s helpful to think through the various steps included in each aspect of the unique journey.

One example we can all relate to is an purchase path scenario. Perhaps someone starts with a search, compares some different products, adds an item to the cart, starts the check-out process, and then — for some unknown reason — abandons the site. It’s important to think through the exact user flow and the associated emotions during each stage before deploying a request for feedback about why the cart was abandoned. Other common journey deep dives include usability testing, post-transactions, and content effectiveness.

Journey-focused feedback requests are typically active in nature, they should be short and succinct, ideally 3-4 questions, and they should be very relevant to the experience the visitor just had. You may need to customize the templates to fit each unique journey within your brand’s digital experience.

You should continue to keep the overall site/app experience touchpoint running alongside the “always on” persistent feedback tab from the “Track & Diagnose” phase so as to continue collecting foundational (and benchmarkable) metrics.

Step 3 – Drive change and transform

Get the whole organization on board to accelerate your transformation. Regardless if it’s a full platform swap, new features or incremental improvements, keep moving forward. 

The third, and final phase of the digital model is around transforming the organizational focus. It’s here that the listening, reporting and understanding your customers should inform decision-making processes across the organization for the digital roadmap.  

The most important element of an effective customer experience program is to close the loop and fix the problems your customers are facing. On the macro level, that means using customer feedback to fix problematic journeys through strategic change for the company. The trick is prioritization of cases and incidents based on the customer and the issue.

On the micro-level, closing the loop typically means personally reaching out in some capacity to rectify a problem presented by an individual customer.

In some B2B settings, closing the loop with each customer is possible, but for B2C, closing the loop on poor experiences through the digital channel is a never-ending battle.

Few teams have the resources to take on real-time responses to the large volumes of persistent feedback, so you need to be able to prioritize.

Who is your priority?

Ask the following questions in order to define categories and determine a specific list of priority customers.  

  • Which customers should receive a follow-up? 
  • Who should conduct the follow-up?
  • When should the follow-up happen?
  • How should the follow-up be handled? 
  • What happens after the follow-up? 

Best practices for fixing all the problems your customers are facing:

  • Use Agile processes to empower your digital product owners to delight the customer
  • Constantly prioritize issues with rating of higher vs lower value to shape your sprints
  • Use technology to drive improvement of the customer experiences
  • Use data to drive roadmaps and change to your digital experiences
  • Focus on broad issues for customer base first then at a macro level
  • Identify root causes for issues and low satisfaction from customers
  • Keep senior management engaged and responsible for driving cost support for rapid and ongoing development

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