As customer experience experts we’ve found ourselves talking more and more about the online experience over the last decade. It’s been a steady ramp-up of importance in the broader CEX world.
And then came a pandemic. We all retreated into homes and in front of our screens. And suddenly digital experience became the be all and end all even for businesses that had little or no online presence before.
What is digital customer experience?
Digital (or online) customer experience is the end to end experience a customer or prospect has with a business when they interact online, it is the customer’s perception of your digital strategy. The business has a chance to convert them and hold onto their custom long term if they manage those interactions well by meeting their needs, making it easy and communicating clearly.
Online customer experience context in 2020
A recent survey by PFS found that 77% of respondents believe that they will continue to purchase online more once the lockdown is over, meaning that huge swathes of a previously offline audience have found their way online and will want to continue to be served there. Whilst at least 70% of companies claimed to have a digital transformation programme in place before the pandemic we soon saw that timescales shifted and as a result, these initiatives became an instant priority and picked up speed. Some digital exploits were executed over a matter of day as organisations moved customer service functions as well as sales to online platforms.
How does this effect how we should communicate online?
With an increasingly varied array of different channels being utilised in the digital space, companies need to focus on transparent, regular and clear customer communications. Consumers are more likely to be checking e-mail communications and are expecting quality updates about the brands that matter rather than sales messages and promotional material.
Website design for great digital customer experience
Whilst website design is a complex beast, the elements of a design which affects customer experience are really quite straightforward.
With online users relying on different devices types and size to access the online world (Hubspot found that some 40% of consumers use a mobile device for research even before an in-person purchase) a key consideration should always be responsiveness. If a user has to pinch in, you’re likely to lose them. If a user can’t click into a box in a form with a large adult finger don’t expect them to go reaching for a stylus as they’ll just go elsewhere.
Site structure is crucial too. Users expect to find their way to the information they need with few clicks and therefore need menus that are logical. Websites are, more than ever, acting as your shop window; when important things change quickly (opening times, despatch details or new ways of working) users will be pro-actively seeking this information and will expect to see it prominently displayed.
6 actions for digital experience success in 2020
1 Review your content plans for blogs, social media or email campaigns. Are you considering the current needs and concerns of your audience e.g. their finances, their social situations or health restrictions?
2 Look at current site traffic and how users move around (try a tool like ‘Behaviour Flow’ in Google Analytics) to evaluate if you’re making it easy enough for users to move around your website
3 Keep important information up to date and prominent – change your opening times to reflect re-opening plans and share details about new site layouts or health and safety changes which will affect customers
4 Don’t overlook the maintenance of your website and apps. Make sure external links are still live and you’re continuing to optimise well for new devices.
5 Plan (short, medium and long term) – what will change for your customers as more ‘normal’ life resumes. What behavioural changes will stay and what will revert. Continue to respond and change in line with your audience.
6 Monitor – how are customers finding your experience? Ask for feedback, monitor reviews and look for trends in complaints data.
The future of digital customer experience
Ernst and Young, in their fantastic research about the behavioural changes that have come as a result of the recent pandemic, found that a third of consumers strongly agree with the suggestion that they will reappraise the things they value most and not take certain things for granted. And, more than a quarter say they pay more attention to what they consume and what impact it has. Whilst we must always be mindful of the distinction between what consumers say they will do and what they actually do, it is clear that the online experience that users are looking for will need to reflect different values and move beyond price led and consumption focused journeys. Organisations need to carefully revaluate their digital world, from their email programmes to display adverts and the websites themselves. There is a need to scrutinise the way we communicate in a digital space, the local and global context that users exist in and what the digital experiences our customers have had in the first half of 2020 have shaped their future needs and expectations online.
To analyse and assess what your customers think and feel about your business contact Fresh Nous on 01905 780810 or get in touch.