Understanding how your customer experience is perceived is a must in today’s digital commerce world.
Not only does an optimized customer experience improve conversion rates, which drives more sales, but it also builds demand for your brand and influences future consumer buying decisions and loyalty.
For this reason, it is no surprise that investing in this type of optimization is much cheaper than spending on acquisition. On top of that, it is the best way to avoid the “race-to-the-bottom” price competition.
In fact, according to a recent report by Adobe, companies who lead in customer experience are three times more likely to have performed well in 2020.
For businesses looking to optimize their digital customer journey, the following five steps can serve as a practical guide. The result is a more loyal customer base that sincerely enjoys their time interacting with your brand across channels.
1. Start with a Look at the Omnichannel Leaders
Consider this — customer expectations are being set by the leaders in omnichannel experiences. These leaders don’t even have to be in the same vertical as you. They are still creating the perceptions and expectations that your customers carry around with them.
That means that if you are in the business of selling food, you should still spend a little time learning from leaders in the healthcare or financial sectors. If you are in the business of healthcare, pay attention to the world of cosmetics. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in — omnichannel leaders are training your customers on what to expect.
So who exactly are these omnichannel leaders? A study conducted by Adobe found that the leaders in omnichannel approaches aren’t inherently different from other companies in the study. In fact, they weren’t even more likely to be digital natives, large dominant brands, or in a specific sector.
What Adobe found was that these leaders shared a top-down commitment to investing in the right technology, processes, and people to ensure an effective customer journey.
Simply put, omnichannel leaders are customer-centric and align themselves to deliver accordingly.
2. Use a Framework to View Your Current Digital Customer Experience
Once you have taken the time to identify the omnichannel leaders it is time to turn your focus inward.
Identify the best way to view the total customer journey and interactions with your brand by using an unbiased lens. There are countless offerings of these frameworks by many well-respected companies — but using a framework helps anchor your customer experience (no internal debate on measures), provides a current state assessment, and allows for cross-industry, cross-company comparison.
For example, at Vaimo, we offer the CXR framework (Customer Experience Rating) to our clients to measure their digital customer experience by providing a data-driven score across four high-level categories, in 12 specific Areas and 250+ experience measures. By compiling over 250 data points, we provide a rubric in which to rate the current state digital commerce experience through an impartial and standardized approach. Individual measures are used in the evaluation to test adherence to best practices and create a list of opportunities that can be categorized into Short-Term Quick Wins and New opportunities for Consideration. The focus is on closing the gap between the brand promise and the experience being delivered.
3. Compare Yourself Against Other Brands
Armed with your unbiased data-backed reporting, you can now compare your digital experience against other brands.
During the comparison stage, make sure you compare your scoring against those within your industry and those outside. Don’t focus solely on competitors but on aspirational brands as well. For example, let’s take a look at two brands that show up on almost any list of brands that deliver a powerful digital customer experience.
Starbucks is more than simply a corner coffee shop serving up venti lattes and cappuccinos. Starbucks is an omnichannel leader that has mastered the digital customer journey.
When it comes to a seamless experience between its digital channels and its brick-and-mortar stores, Starbucks has it down.
Through its mobile app, customers can access the same localized menu as the physical location down the street. They can quickly select drinks they want and pre-order for quick curbside pickup. Not only that, but Starbucks does an incredible job of retaining the same messaging, design, and feel between its digital and in-person experience.
No matter how you access Starbucks, you will receive the same consistent experience, creating deep-seated brand loyalty among consumers. Whether you are in Chicago, small-town Kansas, or browsing the online store, Starbucks is always meeting expectations.
Another leader in omnichannel strategy is Sephora, which is esteemed for its quality customer experience optimization.
In an interview with the National Retail Federation, Sephora’s EVP of Omni Retail, Mary Beth Laughton, discussed how Sephora built an omnitude mindset. Laughton explains this attitude as “The idea that we’ll do whatever we can to delight our consumer wherever she is shopping with us.”
How does Sephora do this? The company uses a blend of technology and personalization to create an optimized digital customer journey. Customers can have their skin scanned to find the perfect makeup to match their skin color. Any makeover session that takes place in a physical store is captured into a digital makeover guide. Customers can then use this guide to either shop in person or to quickly grab new cosmetics through their online profile.
Whether customers are physically at Sephora or are accessing the brand online through a mobile device, their experience is seamless and enjoyable.
4. Test, Test, and then Test Some More
While looking to other omnichannel leaders and building a comparison is key to successful optimization of your customer experience, no progress will be made without proper testing.
Make sure you take a comprehensive approach to testing. Test your user experience throughout all of the following customer journey stages:
- Onsite browsing
- And any other touchpoint a customer might have with your brand
Testing should also involve careful user research. This research should be based on observing customers across the aforementioned channels. It should include a thorough discovery phase where insights are gleaned from real-life applications.
In addition, it is critical to avoid common pitfalls during testing. Don’t rely on a one-and-done approach to user research and testing. Rather, focus your efforts on a constant iterative style of A/B testing. This is how you will ultimately unlock the most insights around your entire digital customer journey and ensure that you can avoid false attribution.
Finally, during testing, don’t neglect one of the most critical components of your digital customer experience — your site search! Increasingly, consumers know exactly what they want when they land on your website or app. Search allows them to tell you directly what they want.
Use your site search to gather data and fuel your customer experience optimizations.
5. Unlock the Power of an Elegant Customer Experience
Finally, all the data gathering, comparison charts, and user testing must come together to create an elegant and streamlined approach for customers.
The linking of an elegant customer experience to digital commerce is meaningful. And today, companies like Adobe make it easier than ever before to tightly integrate your digital customer experience.
Additionally, Adobe’s focus is not just on large enterprises. Rather, any business that operates in the digital sphere can benefit from improving its digital customer journey through the proper optimization and use of Adobe products, such as integrating Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Commerce.
At Vaimo, we are here to help you unlock the right strategy for optimizing your digital customer/eCommerce strategy. We can start by helping you gather an unbiased view of how your customers currently perceive your digital experience. From here, we can help you explore new ideas and methods for improving your omnichannel strategy.