There’s more to a consistently stellar digital experience than throwing money at technology.

The global pandemic experience has intensified the need for companies to develop a digital experience that attracts and retains customers. Yet, despite the trillions being spent on digital transformation, not enough of that investment is being channelled into the customer experience (CX).

In this article, we discuss what defines and drives the digital experience for customers and how companies can use those drivers to deliver the ultimate CX via digital technology.

Where the digital experience stands

For all the talk of digital transformation and the trillions being spent on it, most digital transformation efforts are internally focused. In fact, of $4.7 trillion invested in digitally transforming the banking, retail, utilities and healthcare industries, 68% of initiatives were focused on business processes and just 28% were centred on the customer’s experience.

This bias toward digital infrastructure seems misguided, given just how pivotal CX is to a company’s prospects. Consider that 84% of customers believe that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services, and 32% will abandon a brand they love after one bad experience.

In their rush to embrace transformation, companies need to remember where their revenue comes from and focus on technologies and improvements that make it easier for people to interact with their brand and spend on it. To that end, technology that boosts speed, convenience, knowledge and the overall pleasantness of your customers’ experience should be prioritised.

What defines the optimal digital experience

Success in offering the ultimate digital experience rests on a number of factors, including the ability to meet growing customer expectations and keep pace with digital transformation and the blistering pace of change — but it could be hampered by the shrinking availability of suitable skills.

Customer expectations

Customers have become accustomed to new technology, and they simply assume that innovation will be central to their buying experience. A Salesforce survey revealed that 75% of respondents considered technological advances to be a benchmark for improving the overall retail experience.

In their quest for a frictionless digital experience and clear, easily accessible information, customers respond readily to creativity and innovation. Organisations seeking a digital advantage should use existing technologies to create more dynamic products and communicate better with customers, incorporating mobile features and the real-time sharing of photos and videos in order to improve the quality of information exchanged to resolve issues.

Conversational AI, secure messaging, data intelligence and real-time analytics enable flexible, always-on multichannel customer support. Automation boosts brand loyalty by helping your customers save time and meeting their needs more efficiently.

By using the right technology at the right time, organisations can deliver exceptional digital experiences for their customers and continually process and analyse the data generated to produce actionable insights for ongoing success.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation continues to gather momentum, with 87% of senior business leaders saying digitalisation is a priority. With just 40% of organisations reaching scale with their digital transformation, however, automating and scaling processes and operations to meet the needs of larger customer bases will require a lot more work.

Without clear goals, company-wide commitment, a laser focus on user experience and reliable data-driven intelligence, the gap between ambition and attainment will become a chasm for enterprises attempting digital business transformation. Companies need to adopt a well defined digital ambition and shared vision across the organisation to determine a direction and focus for the work involved in achieving true digital transformation.

Progressive technologies and commercial agility are the keys to digital advantage. Enterprises need to align their teams around a shared vision and maximise their productivity with technology that is data-driven and design-led.

Pace of change

It is hardly surprising that 70% of executives expect the pandemic to accelerate digital transformation. Changes that were expected to take three or four years to take effect happened in just one, and, although people believe they are accustomed to change, the pace of what has been happening recently is unprecedented and coming from multiple directions.

To harness this acceleration, organisations must proactively shift their strategies, reconsider their approaches and align their people to the new roadmap. Central to this transition is how data is used. Companies need to understand that they cannot plan for the future without proper analysis of real-time data. If they don’t have an appropriate data strategy in place, they will be left behind.

Talent & skills

The relentless push to make everything digital has exposed gaps in the capabilities of many organisations and their teams. This was a problem even before the pandemic, with PWC’s Talent Trends 2020 highlighting the fact that 74% of CEOs in 2019 were concerned about the availability of key skills for digital transformation.

This skills shortage makes the imperative to attract and retain talent even more pressing, but it also highlights opportunities for upskilling within the organisation. Now is the time for business leaders to take stock of the skills shortages they have and to develop strategies to build the workforce they will need into the future. Delivering the digital experience that customers demand is not something that can be sustained with static capabilities: Career progression plans must include detailed arrangements for ongoing training and development.

Why doing nothing is not an option

Improving CX increases customer retention, loyalty and overall value — all of which means increased revenue. By making it easier for your customers to interact with your brand to achieve the outcomes they are seeking, you can help increase revenue growth.

Using progressive digital technology to simplify transactions and make interactions more enjoyable for customers, you will also reduce the cost of servicing an account. This is true for both B2C and B2B enterprises, but the greater complexity of most B2B customer journeys means that these organisations must be especially careful when identifying customer needs and ensuring those needs are met effectively by the customer journeys they have mapped out. Optimising these customer journeys can increase services revenue by 10% or more.

Remember, customers don’t just compare your service with what your rivals are offering; they compare you with the best service they have received anywhere. However, by taking a strategic approach to the technologies you embrace, continuously analysing and optimising your offering’s performance and ensuring your people have the skills they need to excel, you can ensure that the digital experience you offer your customers will keep them coming back for more.

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