Customer experience is the quality of a consumer's interactions with a company's products, services, and brand. It has been shown that a positive customer experience can produce significant results, such as a higher number of clients, increased sales, and enhanced loyalty.
Despite these positive outcomes, many companies have yet to enhance their customer experience by benefiting from digital transformation and are struggling to keep up with the competition. This article addresses this challenge by helping businesses understand and take advantage of customer experience in the digital age.
The customer experience in the digital age essentially features experienced users with a digital interface (computer, tablet, or smartphone) performing several activities online. These include: Searching for a product online, using a mobile app to find the nearest store location, finding technical support information on a smartphone, and many others.
A positive customer experience is determined by many factors, including the behavior of other customers, the brand's attractive presentation and layout, and its overall look and feel. This is why branding is essential. It reflects the company’s intended image, influencing the customer’s response and interaction with the brand.
Additionally, the branding should be consistent all the time. For example, customers of luxury brands expect the same luxurious experience even when shopping online. The luxury brand’s social media pages should all be verified, cohesive, and exude a feeling of elitism.
Moreover, a good customer experience always means connecting with the customer emotionally. Businesses need to measure how customers feel about a particular interaction to build a bond based on the knowledge and understand how the brand / its products or services have been part of a customer’s life.
Note that online consumers are less patient than their offline counterparts. It is simpler to purchase online from the comfort of your home rather than making your purchase in person. If a web page takes longer than 10 seconds to load, statistically, this could drive away up to 50% of users. Moreover, a recent study by Microsoft has concluded that the human attention span has dropped to eight seconds which shrank compared to previous years. By comparison, most people are willing to wait several minutes to speak to a brand rep over the phone.
Microsoft researchers have even found that a website loses traffic when it takes as little as 250 milliseconds to load a page. When people have a less-than-favorable online experience, they immediately blame the brand. There is no satisfying excuse for online consumers for a poor digital experience, especially not in 2022, when companies have had years to improve it.
Fortunately, there are many ways to improve online customer experience quickly and effectively. Below are a few strategies you can start implementing today:
Be Consistent: Consistency breeds loyalty. A consumer's impression of a brand is like a puzzle; it comprises many individual touch points where they interact with the brand online and offline. Consumers expect a smooth customer experience both offline and online. As explained before with the luxury brand example, a good customer experience is about perceptions. If you already provide an excellent customer experience offline, don’t disappoint your prospects by delivering a sub-par online experience. Make sure your website, mobile app, blog, social media, and any other digital communication follow top standards regarding user-friendliness, speed, and reliability.
Over time, should companies provide continuous inconsistent digital experiences, the consumer will eventually have a negative impression of the brand itself, thus eroding their loyalty.
Use software dedicated to customer follow-up: Following up after a purchase is a great way to achieve brand recall and remind the customer that the brand is not only here for sales. Instead, customers should feel that the brand cares and wants to know if they enjoyed their experience and that any complaint they have is well considered. Moreover, it is essential to be consistent with this follow-up by tracking customer satisfaction six months later, a year later, to ensure they remain loyal.
Unfortunately, many companies don't have a dedicated follow-up system in place. Consequently, maintaining consistency for these brands is going to be a difficult task.
Therefore, we recommend that businesses invest in dedicated software systems enabling them to automate processes that deal with customers directly by using tools such as online surveys or customer satisfaction pop-up boxes. These tools help streamline the client relationship management process, reduce errors, and are proven to work. On the other hand, the development of AI has allowed companies to leverage even more advanced tools, such as automated chatbots ready to answer frequently asked questions, thus eliminating the need to hire a dedicated CRM staff to manage customer queries and complaints.
Go omnichannel: Going omnichannel will boost the reliability of your CRM activities in the digital age. When a company's existing CRM software doesn't track and link all interactions across all channels, the result will be a fragmented customer experience. The customer will notice the inconsistency and won’t be pleased with his experience. To avoid these pitfalls, additional support software can help you centralize all the communications coming from multiple channels, thus reducing inconsistencies and enhancing the overall customer experience.
Use metrics to gain insight: Time spent on a website is one way to measure how enjoyable the online user experience is. The modern consumer will leave the website if it’s not up to his standards. Companies can get a helpful report with metrics such as Bounce Rate, Pages/Session, Session Duration, and Page Load Time. This might not show how satisfied customers are. Still, it will give brands an early warning if their website is performing poorly, allowing them to be proactive in their improvements.
Work on gathering feedback: Consumers are happy to share their feedback as it makes them feel heard and leads them to believe that the brand wants to refine itself based on their opinion. Not only does that reflect positively on the brand’s reputation, but it also helps companies identify their weaknesses and work on improving them. Feedback can be collected through on-page live chat and follow-up emails that link to surveys, among many other tools available. Furthermore, by collecting feedback, companies can understand their consumers better and build on their overall experience.
In conclusion, remember that the question nowadays is not whether your brand needs to engage in digital CRM or not. The real question is: How well are you doing your digital CRM? The answer is simple. Adapt to your current consumers’ needs and behaviors.
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