The digital commerce revolution has taken the world by storm over the last decade, evidenced by the meteoric growth of the e-commerce space. By the end of 2023, the e-commerce market will reach a global value of $3.58 trillion. Let’s dig into why digitizing customer experience is crucial to success today.
Statistics like these make one fact abundantly clear: modern consumers love to browse products digitally and purchase online.
However, e-commerce doesn’t represent the majority of retail transactions. In 2022, online retail sales only accounted for 21% of global sales. But there’s a caveat to that — approximately 81% of consumers research products online before going to the store to make their purchase.
How can your organization put these insights to use to better connect with both online and brick-and-mortar shoppers? To reach as many prospective buyers as possible, you need to focus on digitizing customer experiences.
Join us as we define the digital customer experience (CX) and outline how you can offer the type of purchasing journey that modern consumers crave.
In this article, we will cover:
Digital vs. Brick-and-Mortar vs. Omnichannel Models
Online businesses have come a long way from the traditional brick-and-mortar retailer. Thousands of brands have embraced the online-first shopping journey by digitizing customer experiences and creating interactive, engaging virtual storefronts.
However, when brands leverage an online-only approach, they often become less adept at getting to know their customers. In turn, the digital CX suffers, resulting in a lackluster journey that fails to keep buyers coming back for more.
To better understand why this happens, it’s important to compare the three common sales models, which are digital-first or digital-only sales, brick-and-mortar journeys, and the omnichannel model.
Let’s take a closer look at these models and how they impact your digital customer experience strategy.
In the e-commerce era, some brands have focused all of their resources on digitizing customer experiences, often at the expense of in-person shopping opportunities. Even if a brand still has brick-and-mortar locations, they sometimes overemphasize digital channels to the point where it decreases in-store foot traffic.
When brands create a linear digital customer experience, they neglect the audience segment that just wants to go somewhere in person, talk to a human, and see what they’re purchasing. As a result, the company loses out on significant sales revenue and becomes one-dimensional.
The brick-and-mortar-first approach is the opposite of the digital CX.
Even if an organization uses digital resources to advertise and market its products, the online shopping aspect of the sales model is treated like an afterthought. Digital customer experiences are rudimentary, bland, and one-size-fits-all as opposed to focused and audience-specific.
Again, the problem here is that the process is too linear. Modern consumers want the freedom to interact with brands across a variety of touchpoints, including on social media, on the company website, and, often, in-store.
Under the omnichannel model, digitizing customer experiences is viewed as only part of the equation, albeit an important one. When creating omnichannel experiences, businesses focus on customizing the digital CX to align with the user’s preferences rather than simply giving them the option to shop online.
That said, digitizing customer experiences and creating an omnichannel journey doesn’t simply involve connecting with consumers across multiple channels. In an omnichannel journey, one interaction seamlessly flows into the next, even if the subsequent interaction takes place in an entirely different medium.
For instance, a brand that has created a complete digital CX may raise brand awareness on social media, funnel users to its website so they can learn more about the product, then direct them to a physical retail store to make their purchase.
How to Build a True Omnichannel Customer Journey
Digitizing customer experiences and creating a true omnichannel journey is a complex undertaking. However, you can cultivate an engaging digital CX by taking a few important measures.
Capture as Much Customer Data as Possible
Before you can create your digital customer experience strategy, you need an abundance of consumer data. You can gather data from a variety of touchpoints, including the following:
Modern point-of-sale systems have made it possible to gather all kinds of usable data during in-person transactions. For instance, you can capture data about average transaction value, busiest sales periods, etc.
You can further support in-person data collection by creating a rewards or loyalty program that offers customers discounts or points in exchange for data like their addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
Your website is one of your most powerful data-collection tools. In addition to collecting data via simple digital forms, you can use an advanced platform like Adobe Experience Platform Launch to manage and track your tags. The Launch platform streamlines tag tracking and management via its robust open architecture and extensive library of APIs. You can integrate it with your existing technology suite, complement it with other Adobe products, implement tags throughout your site, and gain rich insights about user behavior and traffic.
Social media platforms aren’t just a tool for raising brand awareness and driving traffic to your store. You can also be used to publish organic and paid content and gauge how consumers interact with your posts to better understand their sensibilities, preferences, likes, and dislikes.
Email is already seen as a great outreach tool, but it can also be useful for data collection. Using email, you can distribute consumer surveys and solicit feedback about products, services, or the digital CX itself.
Phone transcripts are often discarded due to misconceptions that this unstructured data is useless. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Phone and email transcripts can provide detailed insights into customers’ minds and help you develop a more curated, engaging process.
If you communicate with your audience via text, you need to be using SMS messages as a data-gathering mechanism. Like email, you can use texts to send out coupons, solicit feedback, distribute surveys, and re-engage with past customers.
Once you’ve gathered all this data, you need a way to structure and analyze it, which brings us to step two.
Leverage Your Data to Better Understand Consumers
The next step to digitizing customer experiences involves using your captured data to peer into the minds of your target audience. Investing in analytics solutions powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can help you transform your customer data into easy-to-digest, actionable insights.
These technologies allow you to identify trends in consumer behavior. You can also use this data to divide your audience into segments based on demographic factors, behaviors, product preferences, and other variables.
Segmenting your customer base is a great way to identify which channels to prioritize and determine what type of content will resonate with which audiences.
Remember, the more data you collect, the more accurate and reliable your insights will be. That’s why the unstructured data found in text, phone, and email transcripts is so valuable.
With modern AI and ML software, you can scan unstructured data for certain keywords, indicators of dissatisfaction, and other signs that will provide a better understanding of the customer.
Identify the Intent Behind Consumer Behavior
One of the top goals of customer data analytics is to identify the intent behind consumer behavior. In other words, you want to interpret what a click from one page to the next implies.
For instance, let’s say you have a product video page on your website showcasing one of your top-selling items. After analyzing your consumer data, you discover that 80% of the users that make it through the entire video subsequently initiate a purchase.
Based on the above, you can infer that customers who watch your product video have very high purchasing intent. You can also infer that your video is a powerful lead-nurturing tool that can drive conversions and boost sales.
You can put this data to use by placing additional links to your product video throughout your website and social media posts. From there, you can monitor your conversion rate and see if making your video easier to find has had a positive impact on sales.
Predict What They Will Do Next
The more you know about your customers, the easier it will be to predict what they’ll do next. The video example above demonstrates how you can identify what customers will likely do and tailor the CX accordingly to capitalize on your predictions.
That said, predicting what a customer might do is far from an exact science. More precisely, it’s a probabilistic strategy that involves performing extensive data analysis and making continuous adjustments to your digital customer experience strategy.
Typically, the process works as follows: first, you gather and analyze data. Next, you make changes to the digital CX in hopes of achieving measurable business benefits. Finally, you assess the results, make any necessary adjustments, and repeat the process as often as needed to reach your business goals for digitizing the customer experience.
Tailor the Experience Around Your Predictions
To create an omnichannel journey, you should tailor the digital CX around your predictions.
From the customer’s perspective, one interaction with your brand should seamlessly flow into the next. The omnichannel journey shouldn’t be linear; it should be dynamic and give customers the freedom to move from one touchpoint to the next based on their individual preferences.
By creating an omnichannel experience, you can guide the customer to what they want to do on their own while reducing your consumer acquisition costs and condensing the sales journey.
In doing so, you’ll become less reliant on paid ads and costly customer acquisition strategies and more dependent on organic interactions that simultaneously drive sales and nurture feelings of loyalty.
Digitizing Customer Experiences Starts with a Single Step
Digitizing customer experiences is a monumental venture. However, you don’t need to complete this business metamorphosis all at once. Take a single step in your journey and build momentum to set the stage for future changes.
As you take steps to digitize the customer journey, make sure you check the following boxes.
Ask Yourself Why the Customer Is Coming to Your Site
Start to recognize why the customer is coming to your site. Look beyond the obvious reason, which is that they’re visiting your site to make a purchase — get more granular in your analysis and identify the specific “why” behind their visit.
For instance, if you manage a financial institution’s digital customer experience strategy, you should find out whether the majority of customers want to open a savings account, refinance a loan, or obtain some other service.
Naturally, your site traffic will be composed of several major audience segments, along with a few niche groups that may be seeking less prominent services or products.
Since you can’t cater the homepage to everyone, showcase your most sought-after products and services. Reformat the screen so visitors can see exactly what you think they’re looking for.
Resist the temptation to drive everything to your landing or sales pages. While these should be the most prominent links, it’s wise to include links to informative and educational content as well.
Furthermore, make it a point to include an information-gathering link on your homepage. Doing so allows you to provide value to information seekers that haven’t made the jump to marketing-qualified lead just yet.
When you know the reason behind customers’ site visits, you can tailor the experience to align with it. A carefully curated home page removes negative friction from the customer journey and makes a great first impression on your audience.
Build a New Sales Model
An omnichannel sales model is foundational to the success of your digital customer experience strategy. If your current sales model is too linear, revamp it or, if necessary, scrap it entirely and start fresh. Regardless of what products or services you offer, the entire sales model should be customer-centric from the outset.
To identify where to focus your resources, research your audience and identify the platforms and channels that are most popular amongst your target consumer base. Once you’ve done that, create customer personas that reflect each segment’s needs, goals, and pain points.
Finally, map your customer journey, outlining each stage and possible touchpoint. As part of this process, assign various priority levels to each channel or touchpoint based on its potential impact on the customer journey.
Create a Holistic Solution
The digital customer experience needs to be holistic, multifaceted, and diverse. As you seek to bring your strategy and sales model to life, it’s vital to ensure that you have the right resources, applications, and integrations in place. Ideally, you need a single source of truth for collecting, analyzing, and listening to the events within your customer data.
Implementing a unified solution and connecting all of your offline and online touchpoints is by far the hardest part of adopting an omnichannel model. That’s why many brands elect to partner with third-party consulting and technology implementation firms to support their efforts in digitizing their customer experience.
For instance, Clayton, one of America’s leading home builders, wanted to replace its linear shopping experience with a more dynamic alternative. To achieve its goals, the brand partnered with UDig to create a 3D tool that would allow homebuyers to customize their home online through a seamless digital path to ownership.
Since partnering with UDig, Clayton has achieved a 2.5x increase in leads from serious buyers.
Ensure Every Move Has the Best Interest of the Customer in Mind
The key to creating engaging digital customer experiences is to ask yourself, “Is this the best thing for the customer?” If you can’t answer that question with a resounding “yes,” you need to revamp the CX.
When analyzing the customer experience, be objective and try to view each touchpoint from their point of view. This is where all of the data you collected will become invaluable.
When you gather real-world feedback from your target audience, you can determine precisely how your customers feel about certain products, services, and experiences. Once you know what they like and don’t like, you can keep successful products and services and replace or revamp less popular offerings.
If you need assistance gauging customer sentiment, UDig can help. Our consulting firm has helped numerous clients gauge customer sentiment and enhance services to increase customer satisfaction.
For instance, we recently partnered with an automotive retailer to improve their self-service pre-approval processes. Prior to partnering with UDig, the provider’s services were described as inaccurate and lacking in transparency.
We built a solution to determine whether increasing transparency and giving users the ability to leave instant feedback would improve customer sentiment about the service. Our strategy had a positive impact on both customer sentiment and trust.
From a business performance perspective, our efforts led to an increase in customer holds on pre-approved vehicles, which translated to higher sales volume for the client company.
Digitize the Customer Journey with UDig
Creating a robust, engaging digital customer experience requires finesse and a multi-faceted strategy.
In addition to a great digital customer experience strategy, you must also have the right technologies at your disposal. However, finding the ideal technologies to elevate the quality of the digital CX and reach your business goals can be challenging.
At UDig, we know how to blend strategy with technology to create an engaging digital CX that captivates your audience and drives measurable results for your business. If you’d like to learn more about our digital customer experience strategy creation services, connect with UDig and schedule a consultation.