How to Create a Digital Experience that the Connected Customer Loves
We live in a more connected world than ever before.
90% of consumers have and use multiple devices to complete everyday tasks (including shopping) so having just a great in-store experience, or a killer website is no longer enough.
In 2019, you have to provide a consistently excellent experience on all channels to win over the connected customer. However, the effort is worth it, as the rewards are great. Omnichannel customers spend 4% more in retail stores, and 10% more online than their single-channel counterparts.
Which makes it quite surprising that 78% of companies surveyed in 2018 were not happy with the state of their digital transformation. This means that getting the digital experience right can still be a huge competitive advantage for your business.
This post shows you how you get it done, step by step.
Prioritize Omnichannel not Just One
Did you know that omnichannel customers are up to 10% more valuable than single-channel ones?
They’re also more loyal and completed 23% more repeat shopping trips than their counterparts. These are customers that go through many different touch points before they make a purchase decision – they might see a new product on social media on their phone, browse on the internet for reviews on their laptop, then shop in-store.
This is even more incentive for companies to provide a good & consistent experience across all channels. Even if that channel seems to drive most of the sales, the customers could be profoundly affected by other digital touchpoints that came before the last interaction.
It’s also important to note that a good omnichannel strategy is not simply “a presence on all channels”. A good omnichannel strategy is when how a customer interacts with different touch points directly affect the output of your marketing communications and customer service everywhere.
For example, Starbucks has been getting a lot of attention for doing omnichannel right with their rewards app.
The reason? It seamlessly integrates with the actual physical world around the customer. You can order ahead of time from the Starbucks nearest you, amass points whether you use the app or your physical membership card and quickly get directions to the retail location nearest you. As a result, it’s one of the few company rewards apps with overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Starbucks uses APIs to ensure that all customer interactions are saved and cross-referenced in the same database. Because the data is in the same place, they can keep tabs on customers over time no matter how they choose to pay for any single item. Starbucks didn’t move vast amounts of resources away from retail to make this happen. They invested in mobile and making it part of the whole experience without ruining other channels.
Instead of creating a mobile game or a meme Instagram account just to get popular on the platform. They invested in a cohesive, good experience across the board.
If you are still confused about multi vs. omnichannel, read this.
Use Automation and Smart Tools Where Appropriate but Maintain the Human Touch
In customer service, there is nothing consumers hate more than having to repeat themselves or being forced to wait for a long time with no answer. But over the last couple of years, a close second has emerged – not being able to talk to a person at all.
20% of consumers surveyed said the most frustrating aspect of a lousy service encounter was not being able to reach a live agent. To make matters worse, 61% of consumers surveyed in 2017 said they had switched brands because of bad customer experiences in the last year.
Relying too much on automation could frustrate a large part of your customers into leaving, so make sure that you use automation and smart tools to the benefit of your customer experience, and not just to cut costs and lay off staff.
In this instance, a chatbot that could not understand the customer’s query only served to aggravate the customer further. Instead of just asking customers to “rephrase their query”, it should have provided some relevant contact information along with it.
Well designed experiences even on chatbots should let customers get in touch with a real human more easily. In contrast, let’s take a look at KLM’s chatbot.
Instead of using chatbots as a “catch-all” for requests, it’s very up-front about the capabilities of the bot. It doesn’t immediately initiate and give error messages for unknown phrases. The menu offers customers clear alternatives from the get-go, and actual questions and concerns get answered by human staff, and usually very quickly.
Their Twitter feed is an inspiration gold-mine for how to do social media support like a human being.
As you can see here, KLM’s staff answered a complex query correctly in mere minutes.
By having a chatbot that can deal with things like orders and checking flight status, it frees the customer service reps up to deal with questions and requests that matter.
Figure out mundane/repetitive requests that you can automate, but leave plenty of room for human touch.
Create Digital Experiences That Stay True to Your Brand
Even though it seems like every large company is trying to go the Google/Amazon route and become data-first, this might seem overwhelming for smaller businesses. In fact, 78% of companies do not feel they have achieved their digital transformation goals, and 1 in 3 companies feel unequipped to deal with the technological disruption coming over the next 3 years.
Still, many companies are succeeding in providing exceptional customer experiences on digital channels without changing their corporate DNA. They stick to their brand and business but elevate it with a good digital experience.
One example is Nordstrom.
Instagram was a natural channel to tackle as a fashion company. They got on the platform in 2012, and have created a frictionless experience using simple strategies and tools.
Instead of linking to their homepage or store on Instagram, they use a tool called “like2buy”, which aggregates recent posts and becomes a mini-store.
What you see in the image isn’t their Instagram account; it’s just a shop that looks just like it. This is the front page created by the “like2buy” tool. If you click on one of their previous posts, you will see a breakdown of the products used.
This way, instead of having to ask customer service what the models in each photo are wearing, they can click a link and find it for themselves. They quickly arrive at the product page in the online store and there’s no unnecessary friction.
An excellent digital experience does not have to mean reinventing yourself as a technology company. It means you invest in an on-brand experience online with as little friction as possible.
Centralize Customer Data to Provide Consistent Experiences Offline and Online
65% of consumers feel frustrated that companies aren’t consistent between channels, and it’s easy to understand why.
The majority of companies are struggling to share data even between branches, much fewer platforms. And since 95% of customers use 3 or more channels in a single customer service interaction, it’s easier than ever for these mistakes to happen. If your mobile app stores data in one place, your website & retail locations somewhere else, you won’t be able to support a cohesive omnichannel experience.
The only way around this problem is to make sure that all branches and channels are working from one centralized data source.
For example, Lord + Taylor doesn’t support store pick up through mobile, and only at certain stores. The lack of support for store pick up is probably because of the way they manage their data. The app is likely not tied to the overall data ecosystem.
On the other hand, Marks & Spencer have integrated their data and can support online customers on-site, and vice versa.
An M&S customer can easily return an item in-store that they purchased online. They can even return it without a paper receipt or further evidence on their side.
When it comes to customer support, it’s vital to centralize your data. That way, customers who have reached out about a particular problem via one channel, will be able to get follow-up service somewhere else and they don’t have to go from start to finish all over again.
That’s why Freshdesk offers a support dashboard that integrates every channel and ticket into one place. That way you can avoid duplicates and easily stay up to date on customers to provide personalized support.
Since Freshdesk integrates with customer relationship management, project management, and other tools, you can easily store digital data to create meaningful customer profiles.
By having all your customer data in the same place, you can avoid being hung out to dry on Twitter by jaded customers. And you set the table for friction-less personalized experiences.
Enable Customers to Shop and Consume Without Friction Through Real-Time Experiences
The first step to improving real-time customer experiences is getting the right analytics in place. 58% of companies that deployed real-time customer analytics increased their customer loyalty significantly.
By identifying the user across devices and platforms, and tracking different real-time interactions, you can see the live effects of communication through various channels. You can also consolidate this data with the historical profile you have of your customer: Their past purchases, their address, job & social status, etc. Together these two data-sets will enable you to create personalized experiences for your customers.
Offer the right choices at the right time, and you will significantly reduce friction and increase the chance of purchase.
Ecommerce sites and streaming services are famous for their personalized recommendations that get customers to stay engaged. For instance, Spotify debuted the algorithm-based “Discover Weekly” years ago.
“Discover Weekly” is a compilation of songs that people who like similar artists and songs enjoy, that you haven’t heard yet. It’s the digital, scaled-up version of asking friends with similar music tastes to “show you something new”.
In a world of compounding choices, the companies that can offer potential customers a few relevant ones will win.
The digital experience is the final frontier in an economy where people have become more and more focused on the quality of customer experiences.
By putting your customers first, staying on-brand on all channels and providing consistent service everywhere, you can build customer loyalty and increase sales across all platforms.
This is the only way forward in 2020.
1 – https://hbr.org/2017/01/a-study-of-46000-shoppers-shows-that-omnichannel-retailing-works
2 – https://go.forrester.com/blogs/the-sorry-state-of-digital-transformation-in-2018/
3 – https://info.microsoft.com/rs/157-GQE-382/images/2018StateofGlobalCustomerServiceReport.pdf
4 – https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insight-exceed-expectations-extraordinary-experiences