Customer experience (CX) has always been one of the most vital elements of online shopping.
When most products can be bought from any number of stores (online or physical, directly from the brand or on a marketplace), the customer experience is one of the biggest influences over who the customer chooses to shop with.
In fact, a Gartner survey found that 81% of companies expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX in the future.
Consider also that PwC found that 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.
Clearly, customer experience is vital to retailers’ future success.
And while it used to be all about the store, the growth of digital channels has opened up a whole new area of customer experience for retailers to get right.
What Is Digital Customer Experience?
The digital customer experience is about how satisfied customers are when interacting with a retailer through their digital channels. These include the website, social media, app, interactive points in the store, marketing emails, chatbots, video shopping events and more.
The digital customer experience helps shape the impression that the customer has of a brand or retailer. This impression influences which retailers the customer chooses to shop with.
A good customer experience, both digitally and when visiting a retailer in person, is crucial to building customer loyalty. Get it right and customers will keep coming back, spend more, and even help with promotion through word of mouth.
Digital channels, and therefore the digital customer experience, are woven into all potential customer journeys, from awareness and research to discovery and buying.
Examples of digital customer experience include interacting with a retailer on social media, watching a brand video, researching a product online, and using a chatbot.
It also incorporates various digitally enabled face-to-face elements such as live streaming and virtual appointments.
What Makes for a Great Digital Customer Experience?
Every single interaction a customer has with a retailer digitally is an opportunity for a good or bad experience.
So, what makes for a great digital customer experience?
Fast and Responsive
Customer patience is almost non-existent online.
While in the store customers may allow for some level of friction, such as having to queue to pay, online they expect things to happen almost instantly. As such, a slow website or app can mean lost sales.
A recent report by web hosting company Fasthosts states that in the UK £59.6 billion (US$82.6 billion) is lost in sales each year due to slow loading websites.
This is backed up by research from web performance and testing company Tribe which states that 47% of shoppers will give up on a purchase if they have to wait more than 10 seconds for a webpage to load.
In fact, 31% won’t wait longer than 5 seconds.
Retailers need to invest in their digital channels to ensure that they are as fast and responsive as possible. This includes the mobile version of websites as more and more customers choose to shop via smartphones.
Connected and Convenient
Convenience is one of the biggest influences on customer buying decisions.
Customers don’t want to discover a product on one channel, such as social media, and then have to move to another to make a purchase.
This is why retailers need to ensure that as many of their digital touchpoints as possible are shopping enabled, as we’ve seen with the rise of integrated shopping in major social media channels.
In the beauty world, many leading brands are now offering customers the ability to virtually try on products as they browse their website. Customers can even try on beauty products using augmented reality (AR) while watching videos on YouTube or directly from their Google search results.
This streamlines the online buying experience by giving customers the ability to buy at the moment of inspiration, but also the confidence that the product will work for them.
However, the digital customer experience isn’t limited to purely digital shopping journeys.
Many customers choose to shop in an omnichannel way moving between different physical and digital channels depending on their needs at the time.
As such, a great digital customer experience connects all of a retailer’s touchpoints together to make for more effective and convenient buying journeys.
This allows customers to seamlessly move between channels as they shop, such as ordering something online for collection in-store.
Consistent and Frictionless
A great digital customer experience is consistent. Customers expect to have the same quality of experience across all channels.
It’s not enough just to invest in a great app if your website experience lets you down. A user-friendly, consistent design needs to be applied across all channels to ensure that customers can always find what they want quickly – and get help when they need it.
This helps to reduce the friction that could see customers abandon a purchase. Retailers can also minimize consumer frustration by enabling information to be carried over from one channel to another.
For example, a customer may start the buying process on a retailer’s website, fill in their name and address details, and then not complete the transaction. This could be because they’ve changed their mind, they want to do some more research, or they’ve been distracted or called away.
They may then see the same product on social media and want to continue with their purchase. A great digital customer experience would pick up where they left off before rather than them having to start again with putting in their information.
Tech enables the digital customer experience but it’s not the most important element.
Customers don’t think in terms of individual channels or technologies. They only think in terms of the experience and what it is like interacting with your brand.
A key part of this is human interaction. And despite the increasing digitalization of our lives, human connection is what customers want.