Five key shifts that are driving digital customer experiences
Customer experience is evolving, driven by changing customer needs and accelerated by the pandemic. Key to this is the increasing shift towards digital in all of our lives. Organisations therefore need to understand and react to this transformation to engage with customers and retain them for the long-term.
These five drivers are responsible for this shift in customer experience:
1. The accelerating growth of digital
Over half of customer interactions were digital for the first time in 2021. Essentially the pandemic has moved new people online while encouraging those that were online already to do more. For example, many people now regularly make personal calls via video platforms, when once they might have just used them for work.
Having made the switch, 55% of customers (and 68% of millennials) prefer these new digital channels over traditional ones according to Salesforce research. They like the fact that digital gives them greater control, provides faster answers and is more convenient. Brands therefore need to understand this and deliver the right service on the channels that matter to their customers.
2. Customers are becoming more demanding
Customers now have more choice thanks to digital, making the customer experience a crucial differentiator. In fact, 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services according to Salesforce. Nearly three-quarters (73%) expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. And are likely to leave if they don’t get the right experience. However, on the flipside people will be more loyal and pay more for a great customer experience that meets their needs.
The increased exposure to digital means consumers now expect the same high level of experience from every company they deal with, whether it is Amazon, their local council or bank. And because digital makes it much easier to switch, failing to meet their needs will have an immediate impact on revenues. Research by PwC indicates 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience.
3. Delivering an omnichannel experience is vital
Consumers want to be able to use different digital channels across the customer journey. They might start out online on a smartphone doing some research. For example, use self-service to answer basic questions. Then escalate to chat with more complex queries before moving on to a bigger screen device – a PC or tablet – to make the final purchase.
People expect their experience to be seamless – when they switch channels, they don’t want to repeat themselves or type in the same information again. While joining up channels up can be hard, it has a direct impact on retention and revenues. Research by Adobe found that companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies enjoyed 10% year-on-year growth. Businesses with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers, while those with weaker omnichannel engagement keep just a third (33%).
Digital customer experiences drivers (cont.)
4. Digital must be mobile-first
Mobile phones are always with us and for many their mobile is their primary device for digital interactions. Over half (52%) of internet traffic is now via mobile. So, at a minimum, companies must ensure their website and customer service is optimised for mobile – since 57% of customers won’t recommend a business whose website isn’t mobile friendly.
But they should also look to go further. By considering how they can use smartphone features to help deliver a seamless experience. For example, the phone camera can be used to take and send photos or scan documents, while apps can make customer contact easier and provide customers with quick access to information. Messaging apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage can enhance customer communications, customer engagement and relationship building, while geolocation technology on phones can be used to point people to the nearest store or branch office. With all these possibilities, it’s not a surprise that 84% of customer-centric companies now focus their attention on the mobile customer experience.
5. Digitisation drives new opportunities
Digital opens up new ways of increasing efficiency, improving CX and deepening relationships through automation, self-service and AI. That’s why Gartner predicts that 91% of organisations plan to deploy AI within the next three years. It believes this year (2022) 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies. These include machine learning applications, chatbots and mobile messaging.
Automation increases efficiency, making processes simpler in the contact centre, both for agents and for customers. In fact, by 2025 customer service organisations that embed AI in their multichannel customer engagement platform will increase operational efficiency by 25%. At the same time, agents will continue to play a vital role. Agents will be handling more complex queries that require empathy and human understanding. So, brands must make sure they can still enable escalation to agents where necessary.
Digital is now central to how we live and interact with companies. This means it’s time for brands to put digital at the heart of their CX strategy. Take a look at our infographic to learn more.