A guide to digital customer experience strategy

Posted on January 31, 2024
11 min read

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An effective digital customer experience strategy is essential for organizational success in the modern digital economy. Customers today are more informed, connected, and empowered than ever before. They have higher expectations for customer service, engagement, and support across every touchpoint and phase of their customer journey. Organizations must evolve to provide an exceptional digital customer experience that delights users and promotes long-term loyalty.

Understanding digital customer experience

With most commerce and information now occurring on digital channels, one thing is clear: A well-executed digital customer experience (CX) is not a byproduct but a strategic driver of success. It involves improved digital experiences that are customer-centric, personalized, and seamlessly integrated across all digital channels.

What is digital customer experience?

“The way to a customer’s heart is much more than a loyalty program. Making customer evangelists is about creating experiences worth talking about."

 – Valeria Maltoni, Founder of Conversation Agent LLC

Digital CX refers to every customer interaction with an organization throughout their relationship. These interactions happen via digital touchpoints and channels like websites, mobile apps, and social media. 

Unsurprisingly, when organizations build thoughtful digital interactions, customers associate those brands with quality, ease, enjoyment, and trust. In other words, good CX is foundational to positive brand perception and success. 

Unlike singular, one-and-done transactions, digital customer experience is an evolving journey shaped by many micro-interactions over time across multiple channels. It includes every click, swipe, tap, scroll, or browsing action across digital devices such as smartphones, wearables, in-vehicle systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) systems.

Key digital customer experience channels

Today's digital landscape is far more expansive than five or 10 years ago, with many touchpoints in the mix. Key components shaping modern digital CX include a brand's:

  • Website: An organization's website remains one of its most important digital touchpoints. An effective website provides a seamless user experience, relevant content, easy navigation, optimal speed, and conveys brand values.
  • Mobile app: With growing mobile usage, a well-designed, intuitive app that allows customers to get information or conduct transactions easily is now essential for competitive advantage.
  • Email communications: Customized and personalized emails aimed at different user segments continue to provide value in engaging prospects and existing customers.
  • Social media: Active brand pages on popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow two-way customer interactions in informal, real-time settings.
  • Online communities: Moderated online forums and review sites foster customer-to-customer sharing of product experiences. Brands can also participate in these conversations.
  • Self-service portals: AI-powered chatbots, knowledge bases, tutorials, and FAQs allow customers to solve many issues 24/7.
  • Messaging: Instant messaging apps provide one-on-one conversation capabilities for quick, responsive support.
  • Online ads: Carefully targeted and sequenced digital ads help guide customers along the buyer's journey.

Jointly, these touchpoints enable consistent, omnichannel digital experiences when coordinated properly under a sound digital CX strategy. 

How does digital customer experience impact the overall customer journey?

Customers use both digital channels and physical touchpoints in an omnichannel journey with an organization. But these days, digital touchpoints are taking the lead. Take, for instance, the purchase journey, which involves several steps before a customer accomplishes the desired action—including signing up for an account, subscribing to a newsletter, making a purchase, and leaving a review.

Throughout the customer's journey, their sentiments through these positive or negative touchpoints play a crucial role in shaping their perception of and loyalty towards a brand. The initial stages are pivotal for discovery and conversion, while interactions after a purchase promote retention and loyalty, influencing repeat purchases and referrals.

For instance, imagine a customer has a seamless and positive experience when discovering and purchasing a product online. In that case, they are likelier to remain loyal and even recommend the brand to others.

Hence, digital CX optimization should match the needs and expectations of customers at each step of the buyer journey, including:

  • Awareness stage
  • Research stage
  • Consideration stage
  • Purchase stage
  • Onboarding stage
  • Engagement and growth stage
  • Service and support stage

Each touchpoint experience shapes the subsequent, so holistic digital customer experience optimization along the end-to-end journey matters. It's like crafting a story in which each chapter sets the stage for the next, making the journey meaningful and satisfying.

Importance of a solid digital customer experience strategy

“Customer experience better be at the top of your list when it comes to priorities in your organization. Customer experience is the new marketing.” 

- Steve Cannon, Former CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA

Digital customer experience strategy can profoundly impact customer loyalty, revenue generation, and brand reputation.

Builds customer loyalty and retention

A stellar digital CX helps create happy and satisfied customers.  88% of customers say a brand's experience is as important as its products or services. Positive experiences lead to higher customer retention rates over time. 

Furthermore, because of rising marketing expenses, acquiring new customers is more expensive than retaining existing ones. Per a 2022 HubSpot survey, 44% of marketers anticipated a 5-25% increase in budgets to address rising customer acquisition costs, driven by the need for new digital tracking methods. Hence, a solid digital customer experience strategy is key to customer loyalty and reduced churn.

Generates more sales and revenue

Sure, digital CX aims to serve rather than sell. However, optimizing digital touchpoints for engagement, convenience, and conversions directly lifts online revenue and overall sales. Intuitive e-commerce sites, smart product recommenders, streamlined checkouts, and secure digital payment options persuade more visitors to complete purchases.

Reduces customer support costs

Customers who can easily interact, find information, and self-serve through various digital channels become less dependent on live chat agents. Integrating interactive chatbots and extensive self-service options containing FAQs, how-to guides, and tutorial videos further minimizes human support needs. Ultimately, it dramatically reduces operational expenditure on customer service in the long run. 

Improves brand reputation and trust

Customers lean heavily on existing users' public online opinions, reviews, and experiences before engaging with a previously unknown brand. Organizations can enhance reputation and build trust by prioritizing customer experience across digital touchpoints. Positive online reviews, ratings, social media mentions, and word-of-mouth create goodwill. Overall, it drives more conversions from new visitors who perceive the organization as credible and customer-centric.

Common digital customer experience pitfalls to avoid

Many brands needing help to build traction make similar digital CX mistakes that undermine the customer journey. These mistakes include:

  • Disjointed omnichannel experiences: Customers expect consistent and unified experiences across devices and channels. Siloed digital properties with misaligned messaging confuse and frustrate users, hindering adoption and loyalty.
  • Data-deficient personalization: Superficial personalization based on limited data can seem dishonest or off-putting. For instance, if a customer gets a personalized recommendation for a product they've never shown interest in, the interaction may feel awkward or irrelevant.
  • Underperforming mobile experience: Failing to optimize websites and apps for mobile leads to high bounce rates. If customers struggle on mobile, they'll likely leave.
  • Lack of experimentation: Successful CX requires constant optimization and evolution based on user feedback. Imagine a brand launching a website and never tweaking or updating it. Over time, it will become outdated, and users will likely lose interest.
  • Limited self-service options: Customers expect on-demand support through self-service options like knowledge bases, FAQs, online communities, and chatbots. Insufficient DIY leads to more contacts in costly phone and email support channels.
  • Ignoring user feedback: Digital analytics provide volume but can't reveal customers' sentiments and realistic struggles. When organizations don't talk to real users, they miss opportunities to rectify CX issues and improve customer relationships.

13 effective digital customer experience strategies

Providing exceptional digital experiences that delight customers and make key processes intuitive requires a focus across several key areas. Here are 13 effective digital customer experience strategies to implement.

1. Offer omnichannel support

Brands aiming to elevate customer experience should prioritize offering diverse channels that cater to their audience's preferences. The key is to make it effortless for customers to connect with support teams through the channels that align with their needs or schedules. Whether it's a quick phone call, email inquiry, live chat, or social media message, providing a range of options supports positive customer relationships. 

Maintaining context across channels is important so customers don't have to repeat information. For example, if a customer discusses an issue on live chat, they shouldn't have to repeat everything when following up via email. It's about avoiding the hassle of telling the same story twice, saving time and frustration. Also, consistent branding with a unified voice and appropriate tone across all support channels is key.

2. Personalize experiences

Leveraging customer data and artificial intelligence algorithms helps organizations tailor content recommendations, product suggestions, and promotions to match individual interests and behavior patterns. However, balancing useful personalization with restraint is good practice to avoid appearing intrusive.

3. Prioritize mobile experience

As mobile usage increases, organizations must optimize online touchpoints for smaller screens and fat-finger inputs. They should also conduct extensive mobile testing to ensure flawless responsive function, usability, and load speeds across cellular networks and various devices. Always dedicate resources to continuous enhancements rather than taking a mobile-second approach.

4. Embrace chatbots and virtual assistants

Smart conversational interfaces provide 24/7 automated and personalized support for common customer questions. Ultimately, this reduces the need for more costly live support channels like phone and email. Chatbots and virtual assistants now leverage natural language capabilities to understand context and intent and can even handle end-to-end purchases in some cases.

5. Focus on website speed and functionality

Fast-loading, responsive websites with intuitive navigation convert more customers by allowing them to find information and quickly complete desired actions. Core optimizations such as minifying code, compressing images, eliminating unnecessary page elements, and testing across devices streamline page loading. Beyond speed, ensuring seamless on-site functionality through simplified menus, highlighted popular links, and minimal steps to checkout removes friction in key customer journeys to boost engagement and conversions.

6. Build online communities

Branded online forums, user groups, and social media communities foster connections between existing customers, prospects, and brand experts. It further helps build loyalty through shared experiences, access to influencers, and insider knowledge. Online communities let authentic peer insights drive brand advocacy.

7. Offer self-service options

Customers appreciate reliable self-service options such as FAQ databases, contextual help menus, searchable documentation portals with video tutorials, online chatbots, and virtual agents. Seamless digital self-service options enable users to find answers to questions independently without waiting for live support. Such lower-effort resolutions boost customer satisfaction while lowering organizational overhead.

8. Make it visual

Compelling and interactive visual content quickly conveys information to engage customers online. Here are a few key examples:

  • Photographs that show product use cases in real-life scenarios
  • How-to guides and tutorial videos 
  • Infographics that simplify complex processes at a glance
  • Gamification and mixed digital media that provide interactive and immersive experiences

9. Implement digital loyalty programs

Loyalty and incentive programs digitally integrated across online properties nurture higher customer lifetime value through repeat engagements. For example, you can offer rewards points, redeemable coupons, or sweepstakes entries for social shares. Additionally, gamification through points and status tiers taps psychological drivers to motivate certain desired behaviors intrinsically.

10. Curate ratings and reviews

Proactively seek out and display credible customer testimonials, ratings, and reviews prominently across digital properties. Encourage satisfied customers to leave feedback through review collection apps and widgets on-site. It's equally important to carefully monitor and respond promptly to online brand reputation issues that require damage control.

11. Enable seamless online payments

Enabling online payment options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other digital wallets for online transactions provides convenience and security. Integrating mobile wallet functionality into e-commerce processes future-proofs online checkout experiences as consumer habits shift. Furthermore, the first-party data gained in this process also helps personalize offers. 

12. Proactively gather user feedback

Continuously gather structured customer feedback on live and prototype digital experiences through beta testing programs, in-product surveys, online focus groups, and formal moderated usability studies. UserTesting makes it easy to observe people navigating your web and mobile interfaces and capture nuanced reactions, emotions, and detailed feedback.

Analyze feedback to identify recurring themes that positively or negatively impact customer sentiment. Then, address them with user-informed optimizations. This outside-in approach ensures digital experiences continuously evolve to meet changing user expectations.

13. Continuously optimize

It's essential to regularly conduct A/B and multivariate testing, empathy mapping, funnel analysis, goal tracking, and comprehensive digital experience audits. It helps reveal improvement opportunities, from minor tweaks to significant redesigns that lift vital performance indicators. Constantly refine and improve online touchpoints based on real user insights, analytics, and what peer innovators launch. Proactively adopt agile optimization cycles fueled by data and human insights.

Elevating digital CX requires attention across all these areas with an outside-in, customer-centric perspective. However, many organizations still need help with where to start. The most effective prioritization depends on understanding key metrics measuring how real users perceive and navigate their journeys.

Key digital customer experience metrics and KPIs

Thanks to built-in tracking from platforms and tools, digital touchpoints readily lend themselves to in-depth analytics across user behaviors. By monitoring key customer experience metrics, teams can gauge the effectiveness of their efforts and get the granular visibility necessary to optimize experiences. Vital signs to track (plus some examples) include:

  • Volume metrics: Website and app traffic, bounce rate, pages per visit, average session duration
  • Behavioral metrics: Website behavior flows, funnel fallout points, checkout completion rate, cart abandonment rate, account registration drop-off
  • Perception metrics: Net promoter score (NPS), customer satisfaction scores (CSAT), user feedback sentiment analysis, ratings and reviews monitoring, social listening
  • Outcomes metrics: Online conversions and sales, revenue per digital channel, customer lifetime value, customer acquisition cost

However, quantitative metrics only reveal part of the story. Talking directly with customers through user research and usability testing provides the qualitative insights needed to drive meaningful CX innovations.

Elevate digital customer experiences with UserTesting

Delivering exceptional digital customer experiences is now a competitive necessity to earn trust and loyalty in a crowded marketplace. However, many brands need help understanding customer pain points and preferences across complex digital properties and journeys.

UserTesting provides the most powerful way to gain clear human insights that reveal exactly what's working or broken in customer experiences. UserTesting's on-demand Human Insight Platform lets teams quickly recruit targeted participants, observe real-world customer interactions, uncover issues hurting conversion, benchmark experiences, and inform better designs rooted in empathy.

You get actionable insights about pressing priorities to address, plus an always-on feedback loop to drive continuous innovation. UserTesting supplies the missing customer perspective, cutting through assumptions and opinions to inspire digital experiences that customers love.

Don't base your organizational decisions on guesswork. With UserTesting, you can diagnose digital CX health, reveal opportunities, and confidently optimize every customer touchpoint. 

Frequently asked questions

How can a digital customer experience strategy improve customer engagement?

An effective digital CX strategy sustains engagement by providing seamless, personalized experiences across channels. Tactics like omnichannel care, optimized interfaces, and social communities allow for more positive brand interactions.

How does digital transformation impact the customer experience?

Digital transformation revolutionizes the customer experience by enabling organizations to offer self-service options, create customized marketing campaigns, provide real-time support, and analyze customer behavior. 

How can organizations use UserTesting to gain insights into customer behavior and improve their digital CX strategy?

UserTesting enables organizations to conduct user research and usability testing, observing how users interact with digital products and experiences. It helps identify pain points, usability issues, and areas for improvement, ultimately informing the development of an effective digital customer experience strategy.

What kind of expertise is required to elevate digital CX internally?

Expertise in user research, UX design, customer journey mapping, and data analysis is crucial to elevating digital customer experience internally. User researchers, UX designers, and data analysts collaborate to understand user needs, design intuitive interfaces, map customer journeys, and extract insights for continuous improvement.

What quick wins can rapidly improve digital CX?

Some easy, quick digital CX wins include speed optimizations, live chat, simplified navigation flows, and mobile compatibility.

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