Many companies were engaging in digital transformation before COVID-19 hit, doing so to meet changing customer expectations and business needs. But leaders saw the pace of their digital journey accelerate dramatically during the pandemic in order to keep up with the evolving customer experience.
One report shows that over half of consumers believe online experiences will be more important than in-person ones. With an increasing amount of shopping, buying and selling being done online, companies have to learn how to connect with customers in the digital realm and give them an experience that will make them want to come back, says Christena Garduno, chief executive officer of Media Culture.
“The customer experience has been revolutionized and improved through digital technology,” Garduno says.
“It presents a tremendous marketing opportunity. Now the reality is that the customer experience has gone mostly digital, and it’s become imperative for companies to focus on the entire experience, which is the totality of the path a consumer takes while seeking, purchasing, and using a product or service.
“It’s every step and every touchpoint in the journey from interest to acquisition. Many companies need to rethink the different types of interactions that consumers have with them. When digital is done well across the board, it can allow your business to build its brand and long-lasting relationships with customers.”
Garduno offers tips for companies to enhance the customer experience through digital means:
- Be prepared with the right information. “Your customers are always ‘on’ in the digital world, so it’s essential to deliver the right information to address their needs,” Garduno says. “This is a big task; one person can’t deal with so many scenarios. But being upgraded digitally gives a company the technology to have a centralized knowledge platform where information can be quickly accessed.”
- Go beyond data and interact with customers. Using analytics helps you understand where users go once they land on your website or open your app. But getting customers’ opinions is crucial. “Talk to those who have been through your digital experience,” Garduno says. “Take data from surveys, emails, and social media to gather more info. Plot out a digital customer journey to highlight the touchpoints and make sure each interaction works.”
- Prioritize self-service. Many customers are tech-savvy these days and are more accustomed to managing things by themselves online. “Customers have higher expectations of what kinds of things you can manage by yourself online,” Garduno says, “so they want to see self-service options on the website, such as discussion forums, a knowledge base and FAQs.”
- Be consistent across all platforms. “You want your customers to experience unity across all the digital channels they use when interacting with your brand,” Garduno says. “Data needs to be consistent and interactions similar across all platforms. You need to know your brand and make sure you have it positioned so that everything online supports it.”
Optimize for mobile. With consumers living through their phones, Garduno says it makes a lot of sense to make sure that your website, app or other materials found online are optimized for mobile. “Pay attention to page load time and ease of navigation,” she says. “People want speed and convenience.”
“It’s essential to create the best customer experience strategy for positive digital interactions with your brand,” Garduno says. “Brands that don’t adopt digital solutions will suffer. The pandemic expedited this transition to an exciting time for forward-thinking companies.”
Christena Garduno is chief executive officer of Media Culture, a multichannel brand response media agency that drives growth for global clients with innovative and performance-driven media campaigns. She is a member of Forbes Agency Council.