[Progress News] [Progress OpenEdge ABL] How to Create a Winning Digital Customer Experience Strategy

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Suzanne Scacca

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Considering how time-consuming and expensive it is to try to recover lost business and to attract new customers to replace it, you’re better off creating a great digital customer experience from the get-go. Here are six tips for a killer strategy that keeps your customers happy.

There are so many ways in which customers interact with brands these days—different devices and channels, online and offline, etc. And their needs and expectations differ based on when, where and why they interact with each brand.

So how do you devise a strategy for something as complex as that?

While a customer experience strategy is something you’ll need to work with your entire organization to solidify, there are things you can do to check that the digital parts of your CX strategy are in order. In this post, we’ll explore some ways to do that.

Why a Great CX Strategy is Essential Today​


Experience is everything these days. That’s because consumers know that if one brand or company fails to meet their expectations, there’s always a line of competitors waiting to serve them.

According to Verint’s 2023 State of Digital Customer Experience Report, 69% of consumers have cut ties with a company over just one poor experience.

On the other hand, 80% of consumers said they’d be more likely to buy from a company again if they offered an incredible digital CX.

Repeat loyal customers are worth far more than new customers your brand has to bring in to replace the customers they lost due to a bad experience. So while the upfront costs of creating and implementing a customer experience strategy might seem expensive, think about the money saved in marketing, advertising, customer support and everything else a brand does to try and save disgruntled customers and attract new ones.

There’s no comparison.

Tips for Creating a Winning Digital CX Strategy​


Here are some things to do as you piece together your digital customer experience strategy:

1. Really Get to Know Your Users​


An effective customer experience strategy is one that starts with a user-first mentality. Yes, your business and digital product objectives matter. However, you’re not going to increase brand awareness, improve sales and the like by catering only to your brand’s interests.

You have to understand who your users are, what the ideal journey looks like for them and what will make for the most positive experience as they weave in and out of your different digital products and channels.

So this all starts with user research.

The first thing to nail down is your target users’ demographics. For example:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Education
  • Profession
  • Income level

This will give you a good idea of which segment (or segments) of the population you’re designing experiences for.

Now you need to learn more about what makes these people tick. And how those inherent drivers and behaviors impact their tastes and decision-making.

You can use a variety of tools to gather this information about and from your target users, like research studies, surveys, polls, focus groups and interviews.

Once you have a good amount of qualitative and quantitative data gathered, you can create useful resources from it.

To start, you’ll need to create a user persona for each segment you’re targeting. This will give you a clear-cut vision of your ideal customer. As you design your product and flesh out the experiences they have within and outside it, you’ll use this persona to figure out if you’re making the right choices (initially, anyway).

2. Analyze the Existing Market for Missed Opportunities​


Before you put together your own customer experience journey and strategy, spend some time getting to know what’s out there now.

Identify who the top competition is in the market. These might be local competitors, comparable solutions providers or even market leaders.

Find out which channels make up their omnichannel customer experience.

For example, do they own a website? An app? And what kinds of apps do they have—web apps, mobile apps or progressive web apps?

And what about their online marketing strategy? Where do customers find them online? For example:

  • Organic search results
  • Paid ads in search results
  • Google Business local listings
  • Social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, X)

Also, what sorts of communication channels do they use with their customers? Email? Newsletter? Chatbot? Customer service center? SMS? Anything else?

One thing to look for is what an omnichannel strategy looks like for these customers. This will give you an idea of what’s currently being used in the market and what your target customers are accustomed to.

Another thing you’re looking for is which channels customers actually prefer. Your user research will give you a more concrete idea of what this digital customer experience should look like.

Online customer reviews are also helpful. They might be hard to come by on the company’s own website. However, you can use resources like the BBB to see what makes customers the most or least satisfied when it comes to their digital experiences with them.

By identifying missed or wasted opportunities, you’ll be able to create a more effective and desirable experience straight out the gate.

3. Use the Right Technology When Implementing Your Strategy​


The technology you use to power and support the digital CX can make or break your strategy. So when you come up with your plan, devote some time to hashing out the technology piece of it.

These tools not only need to make it easy to create and manage the digital user experience, but also help you measure the results. What’s more, they should integrate well with your organization’s larger customer experience strategy. For example, it might not make sense to implement a payment solution like PayPal on an ecommerce site if the brick-and-mortar store uses Square and there’s a digital counterpart for it.

So which technologies do you have to be concerned with when it comes to the customer experience? Start with your digital product first.

Content Management System
The platform you use to manage and host your website or app is hugely important.

You can design the most incredible looking digital product. But if that technology isn’t up to the task of supporting it, then all that work you did will eventually go to waste. You might not spot it at first, but once traffic and conversions start to scale, you’ll notice the instability of the CMS.

Website/App Technologies
You can’t offer a great customer experience without having a well-coded digital product. That’s not all. The technologies you use to power other parts of the product’s performance matter, too. For example, it’s important to use reliable solutions for things like caching, security and automation.

These technologies are what help to make your design and development feel invisible. The second your customers start to notice sluggish pages, glitches or inefficient processes is the second they start looking for better experiences.

Digital Product Features
Which features and functionality you put into your digital products has a more obvious and direct impact on the customer experience.

The first thing to do is to figure out which features are absolutely needed. For example:

  • Chatbot
  • Live chat
  • VR/AR
  • Conditional contact forms
  • Checkout
  • AI-powered search

Extraneous features can cause just as much annoyance and frustration as ones that don’t work well.

It’s also important that you’re using the right technique or technology to build out each of these features. You want them to work as smoothly as possible.

Integrations
In order to create an omnichannel customer experience, your digital product needs to seamlessly connect to other tools and platforms. That means finding a CMS that integrates with as many of the solutions you’re planning to use.

For example, you may want your CMS to integrate with things like:

  • CRM
  • Social media
  • Analytics
  • Support center/ticketing system
  • Email marketing/newsletter

While integrations certainly improve the efficiency and scalability of digital products, they also allow you to take the customer experience to a new level.

For example, integrations enable you to automate processes between different channels, which speeds up your brand’s response times.

Also, integrations allow you to instantly share data across platforms so you can provide a consistent and personalized response wherever they engage with your brand.

You can also save your customers time with integrations. Even if data is captured on just one channel, all it takes is a login to their account or entering a few details to bring them back to where they left off. Or to help your team pick up the conversation where someone else left off with them.

4. Track Your CX Metrics​


Once you have your digital product launched, that’s when the real work begins. While you can gather a lot about your users’ needs and preferences in the beginning, you won’t really know what works until you have a working product.

I’d argue that this point and the next one about user feedback go hand in hand. Because while CX metrics will clue you into what is or isn’t working, you’ll have to guess about the why without direct user input.

But before you go talking to users, start with the data your product’s collected.

Google Analytics (GA) will help you assess the quality of the customer experience you’ve designed. And, now, with GA4, you can actually evaluate the CX across various channels instead of looking at them in individual silos.

You’ll need some other tools in order to analyze the key performance metrics of your omnichannel CX. For instance, your CMS and payment processor are two such tools.

You should also look outside of your digital channels to evaluate how good or bad the customer experience has been so far. Look for unbiased online reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp and BBB. You’ll learn a lot about how your users feel when they don’t feel like the brand is looking over their shoulder.

If your product has a support portal built in, that’s another good resource. You’ll be able to learn a lot from the metrics gathered here. Like how long it takes to respond to customers and resolve their issues, how satisfied they are with the experience, as well as what the most common issues are in the first place.

Your CRM is another good resource. You’ll be able to measure user churn and retention rates. You might also get a better sense of what the sales funnel and user journey looks like from a high level and if there are any inefficiencies within them.

5. Collect User Feedback​


Once you have a general idea of how things are going, it’s time to reconnect with your target users.

There are various ways to collect customer feedback at this stage. One way is to directly ask customers how it’s going.

You can do this by adding a feedback form to your website or app. You can also add a sticky feedback widget to the side of your website so that users can leave real-time input on their experience, report bugs and so on.

Another way to ask customers how it’s going is to use email or SMS to collect their feedback or thoughts after a direct interaction with your brand. For example, I recently had to reach out to customer support when a package never showed. About 24 hours after the live chat, I received an email with a single question on it:

“How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the support you received?”

I had to choose a score between 1 and 10 to rate my satisfaction. And there was an empty field available for me to add details about the experience.

This is what’s known as a Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). There are other scoring systems you can use to gauge how well or poorly certain experiences go for your customers.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS), for instance, is one that asks:

“How likely are you to recommend us?”

This one often gets sent by email. You’ll also see it as a pop-up in mobile apps from time to time.

Another useful one is the Customer Effort Score (CES). This one usually appears after a customer receives support either in the form of self-service documentation or chatting with an agent. They’re asked to rate how easy the answer or chat representative made it to solve their problem.

While these scores are useful for analyzing specific instances where customers engage with your brand, it’s also crucial that you get their input on the broader experience. To do this, you’ll need to perform more rigorous user research and testing.

You can use a mix of passive and active testing. For instance, heatmap testing will help you identify major chokepoints in the experience. On the other hand, user studies and tests will allow you to ask users to explain how they’re feeling as they engage with your digital channels in real time.

It’s important to observe their reactions and feedback from both angles.

6. Optimize the Customer Experience​


With data and user input in hand, you can now repair and enhance the customer experience.

Start by removing the high-friction parts of the journey. These are the areas where customers get stuck and confused, where frustrations run high and where a high number of them churn. It’s important to remove the pain points before doing anything else.

That said, don’t stop there. There’s a lot to take away from your customers’ positive customer experiences, too.

For instance, let’s say you’ve discovered that your customers love the personalized recommendations they receive in their emails once a week. They love them so much that newsletter subscriptions are at an all-time low and sales from the newsletter are up.

You could take that to mean that more personalization is good. So you might add a “For You” section to the homepage of your site with personalized picks whenever they log in.

When implementing any changes based on data or input, though, it’s best to do so as an A/B test first. While the input you collect may be indicative of what that particular group felt, it might not be representative of everyone. A/B testing allows you to gather input from a large group of users before implementing the preferred experience.

Make it a point to continually optimize the customer experience. Customer needs and preferences change over time and quickly. So too does the technology that designers and developers use to create these digital experiences. Ongoing optimization will allow your brand to stay ahead of the curve.

Wrap-up​


There’s nothing simple about the customer experience in this day and age. With customers using so many different channels to interact with brands, it can seem futile trying to cater to them at each one. Yet, that’s what customers expect.

To give the customers what they want, you need to come up with a winning digital CX strategy. This involves doing things like extensive target user research, powering their experiences with the right technologies, and continually working to improve your strategy and digital products.


Want to read more about why digital customer experiences matter and how to best meet customer expectations? We have a whitepaper for that! Check it out: Modernizing the Customer’s Digital Experience.

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