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5 digital customer experience trends for businesses to consider

Improving digital CX is important in a market cluttered with choices for the customer. Here are some trending strategies to help businesses enhance their offerings.

Digital customer experience is a hot topic, and in a market oversaturated with choices and customer touchpoints, now is the time to address it.

Digital customer experience is the impression left with a consumer after they interact with a digital interface such as a website, mobile app or kiosk screen. And while many people continue to stay at home and away from crowds during this pandemic, it's the perfect time to address CX in the digital realm.

Here are five digital customer experience trends for businesses to consider.

1. Develop a digital customer experience with a mobile-first approach

Having a mobile-first approach isn't just about having a mobile app. It's also necessary to keep content relevant, up to date and correctly formatted -- especially for many B2C organizations.

Currently, 50% of all internet traffic comes from mobile, with desktop use declining, according to statistics from StatCounter. The result is an increase in companies that claim to be customer-centric and are focused on the mobile experience to meet customer expectations. But if a website isn't mobile-friendly, customers will stop visiting it, even if they like the business.

Businesses need to ensure users can accomplish the tasks they set out to achieve with capabilities that mirror those in their web experience.

Some design elements for organizations to keep in mind when creating a mobile interface include:

  • Enlarged touchpoints. Calls to action should be large enough for users to tap with their fingers. Hyperlinks should also have space around them so users can easily click the correct link.
  • Prioritize items in content inventory. Businesses should display most important elements on a page first. If a clothing retailer is having a sale, perhaps sale items and a promo code will appear at the top of the page, followed by best-sellers. At the bottom of the page, that business might drop links for contact information and more about the company. However, it's important to note the order of importance will vary from company to company.
  • Avoid large graphics. Landscape photos and complex graphics won't render well on mobile devices. Organizations should use the portrait layout for photos and simple graphics that draw the user in.
  • Create an easy-to-use navigation. One way of doing this is to incorporate the hamburger icon into the design. When a user clicks on it, a menu will slide out from the side of the screen for easy navigation throughout the site.

2. Improve experience with omnichannel presence

Another digital customer experience trend is omnichannel, which can provide customers with a quick and more personalized user experience. An omnichannel experience means a customer will receive a consistent experience as they hop from a brick-and-mortar store, to a website and then to a mobile app. The business will know who they are and what they've done on each channel, eliminating the need to repeat information and cause customer headaches.

As digital interactions continue to grow, so do the number of touchpoints across an organization, requiring the adoption of new channels and approaches to interacting with customers.

As digital interactions continue to grow, so do the number of touchpoints across an organization, requiring the adoption of new channels and approaches to interacting with customers. The number of retail companies investing in the omnichannel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 70%, according to a 2020 report from PwC.

Customer engagement channels such as chat, social messaging -- such as via Facebook Messenger -- and self-service continue to grow. While customers may expect differences in how they use these engagement channels and how a company may interact back with them, there is an expectation that communication remain on brand and be consistent in delivery -- e.g., the same types of questions for verification of details, the means to solve customer needs, etc.

Customer engagement touchpoints graphic

3. Enable customer service productivity with artificial intelligence

AI tools can help customers address their needs more quickly and enhance employee engagement and business productivity with daily tasks. Some areas that AI can assist in include:

  • routing messages to the proper agents in a contact center;
  • collecting customer information to expedite human interactions in a contact center;
  • enabling consumers to get live chat support over the phone or online 24/7 through the use of chatbots;
  • providing predictive analytics, which prompts customer service and customer support agents with the most appropriate next step in customer interactions;
  • providing a customer service knowledge base to provide answers to basic questions and reduce the volume in contact center queues; and
  • social media monitoring, where AI tools can watch social media -- such as Twitter, Facebook and Yelp -- for specific trigger words. Social media managers would then share this information with relevant business department to enable follow-up action.

As organizations seek to understand their customers' wants and needs, they can achieve this by pairing AI with customer data. This will help to deliver personalized experiences based on identified customer choices and preferences across the customer journey, which businesses can also track for ongoing optimization.

4. Provide immersive experiences via augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) is another digital customer experience trend. AR continues to evolve, enabling users to interact with virtual content in a real-world setting -- often from the comfort of their own homes. Across different B2C categories -- including attire, furniture, makeup and accessories -- shoppers can see how an item would look on them or in their home without a purchase commitment.

Augmented reality can enhance a retail experience, making it more immersive and giving both brands and consumers choice and control over the experience by reducing purchase decision uncertainty and adding to customer excitement. AR already exists in virtual try-on experiences with retailers such as Ikea, Lowes, Nordstrom and Warby Parker.

Businesses can also use augmented reality services -- such as AR visualization software or AR content management systems -- to enrich the user experience.

5. Provide data transparency

Today's customers are increasingly tech-savvy and conscious of the data they share, how businesses use it and who uses it. Customers are wary of sharing personal details -- due to hacks and scams -- and unsolicited use of their data for promotions is one of the most significant factors contributing to consumer distrust, especially toward large corporations.

Consumers expect companies to understand their wants and needs and want personalized communications, but organizations must demonstrate trustworthiness, being transparent about data collection to maintain customer loyalty and trust -- whether it's collecting data through a sign-up process or customer satisfaction survey. Afterall, perception is what drives one's definition of experience.

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