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What is the digital customer experience?

The best digital customer experiences stir up powerful emotions and form relationships that last


Why digital customer experience matters now

Would you pay more for a memorable experience, provided by a brand you like? In the coming years, your customers most certainly will. More than prices or products, experiences that spark powerful emotions will shape buying patterns and brand loyalty. Consider these emerging trends:

The message is clear: Your brand needs to become an experience leader, or your prospects and customers will look elsewhere.

As the move toward an all-digital world accelerates, the majority of customer experiences will be delivered through online channels, where it’s more difficult to gauge sentiment and interpret reactions. Whether you’re on the frontlines interacting with customers, or behind the scenes focused on the enabling technology, learning what works, fixing what’s broken, and crafting a digital customer experience with clarity and intention should be top-of-mind for every marketing team around the world.

Chapter 2

What is digital customer experience?

The term digital customer experience refers to the sum total of all the online interactions a customer has with your brand. It may start with your company website but could also include mobile apps, chat bots, social media, and any other channels where the touchpoint is virtual. And what matters here is the perception customers take away. Is it cumbersome and frustrating to ask for help or place an order, or is the process frictionless, memorable, and delightful?

Don’t overlook the importance of operational aspects of the experience: From the Shopping Cart to the Contact Us form, every interaction adds up to an overall feeling about your brand. What story do you want these moments to tell? What story do you want those who experience them to share?

Chapter 3

Digital customer experience vs. customer experience

Digital customer experience (DCX) is inseparable from the all-encompassing customer experience (CX), which includes in-store and other interactions in the physical world. If CX is about showing empathy, building trust, and human connection, DCX is the online expression of these efforts.

It’s important to remember that customers generally don’t think about the various stages of their journey the way marketers do.. Whether the interaction is physical or virtual, offline or online, people expect consistency across all channels and throughout the entire journey with your brand. For them, it’s all one experience with your brand. Make sure you have the people skills as well as technical know-how to execute digital campaigns, while also ensuring a smooth transition between these overlapping worlds.

Chapter 4

Managing the digital customer experience

Consumers have come to accept that providing data to companies is a necessary part of digital. However, they expect brands to know them in return. Marketing leaders often talk about putting customers first, but the reality is 42% of companies don’t ever ask for any feedback.1 Customers can sense this disconnect. They know when the human element is missing. Your challenge is to proactively seek out and fix broken experiences long before they drive customers away.

Companies that take time to do the hard work of mapping the customer journey always come out ahead. You can’t create unique experiences until you know when and where customers interact with your brand. With this in mind, it helps to think of DCX management as a four-step process:

  • First, you need to really know your audience. What kinds of emotions will create the sparks within each segment?
  • Next, identify personas within those audiences. What characteristics do the customers in each persona have in common?
  • Now you’re ready to address each phase of the customer journey with relevant content and experiences. Do you have each part of the funnel covered, top, middle, and bottom?
  • Make sure to personalize digital experiences each step of the way, even if you start with just the basics.

Customer data offers essential insight, which is why it’s critical to have solutions like a digital experience platform (DXP) that can connect data across interaction points. Machine learning and AI are increasingly able to help you collect and connect data—and also understand it. But unless you have powerful AI that applies insight for you, it’s up to your team to apply what you’ve learned correctly. Even if you do have AI, this is where the creative fun comes in. Connecting customer journeys in helpful, exciting, and delightfully surprising ways can make all the difference, and creating those journeys depends on your team.

While creativity is essential, so is operational excellence. It’s all about a careful balance between creating powerful journeys, having the technical proficiency to deliver them and understand their impact, and consistently iterating to improve them.

“The mantra you need to get comfortable with is: ‘This is a journey,’” says Rick Bauer, Lead Technical Consultant for Perficient, a Sitecore partner. “Even after you make it through re-platforming or upgrading, have your governance in order, content loaded, marketing workshops under your belt, and analytics flowing in to drive decisions—you will always be testing, improving, upgrading, connecting, building, rewriting, and finding ways to improve CX to drive ROI.”

Symposium opening keynote, Sitecore CMO Paige O’Neill.

Chapter 5

Business benefits of DCX excellence

An outstanding digital customer experience is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a mission-critical differentiator for every business. Brands that combine the three essential elements of great products, powerful digital experiences, and memorable human connections have customers who are more engaged, more satisfied, and more loyal.

Here are some additional metrics you can track and improve:

  • Higher customer retention
  • Reduced customer churn rates
  • Higher lifetime customer value
  • Greater brand equity
  • Reduced costs of service

(Learn more about the business benefits of digital customer experience.)

Chapter 6

Digital customer experience leaders

These companies have demonstrated the ability to build relationships with their customers, by showing empathy, telling great stories, and using AI to let their humanity shine through. Follow the links to learn the secrets to their success.

  • Chick-fil-A: Learn how to increase online revenue through customer engagement and loyalty.
  • Brompton Bicycle: This company has delivered a personalized and relevant customer experience across 48 markets, fueling growth and boosting customer loyalty.
  • Thule: Manage content diversity across different markets and languages, for powerful e-commerce experience.
  • The R&A: See how streamlined ticket-buying, year-long build-up, and live streaming on the Sitecore platform enhanced the fan experience, as well as golf-championship revenue for The Open.

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