It’s no secret that brands are increasingly embracing digital customer experiences across the customer journey. What may be more surprising is that there is a massive gap between how effective brands believe these experiences to be and how consumers feel.

According to a recent study, while 53% of brands believe that their customers are satisfied with their digital self-service tools, only 15% of customers actually agree. In another report, PWC found that 54% of consumers believe CX in most companies needs improvement.

So after so much investment poured into delivering an exponentially growing variety of digital customer experiences, what’s missing? Why are customers not satisfied and brands, all too often, not seeing the desired ROI on their investments?

The Problem With Today’s Digital CX

Your digital CX should be more than an alternative to in-person interactions — it should be better, faster and smarter. After all, why shouldn’t it be? It’s powered by massive computational resources and advanced machine learning and AI that far outperform any one person’s capabilities to respond to a customer concern or manage a customer interaction. And yet, customers are clearly discontent with the quality of these interactions.

Consumers have not been shy in telling us what specifically they’re unhappy about. And sometimes, we already know ourselves:

  • Digital experiences are often clunky, time-consuming and cumbersome. The tech isn’t helping: 43% of professionals say complex CX technology is hurting the customer experience. When it comes to self-service, for example, 81% of consumers want more options, but only 15% are happy with current tools.
  • Brands aren’t human anymore. Two thirds of consumers believe brands have lost their human touch, and nearly a third would leave the brand after one bad experience.
  • Personalization is often lacking. McKinsey & Company found that 76% of consumers get frustrated when they don’t get personalized experiences from brands. And frustration very quickly turns into churn.

The good news is it’s possible for companies to tackle these issues and put customers back at the center of CX — where they belong. And all it takes is a truly customer-centric approach to CX.

Related Article: 5 Ways to Build a CX-First Business Culture

Streamline Your Digital CX

If there’s one rule to giving your customer a good experience, it’s this: Don’t waste their time. Maybe that sounds obvious, but it happens more than you’d think.

While tech stacks are getting more complex, simple processes are still full of friction. Think of repeating your name and personal information every time one service rep hands you to the next or being asked for details you already entered into the system. It doesn’t matter how flashy the customer experience is — if you’re missing the basics the end result will be a poor customer experience and, you guessed it, churn.

The solution to clunky CX differs depending on the specific situation. For larger enterprises, the issue often stems from using a broad set of technological platforms added over the years that don’t always play nice with each other. The massive IT investments often required to migrate to a more streamlined tech stack are hard to justify with any straightforward ROI calculation, so instead the tech stack just keeps growing and becoming ever more complex. For these companies, adding a Customer Journey Management platform may be the best path forward. While it may sound counterintuitive to add yet another solution to the stack in order to reduce complexity, these platforms are aimed at optimizing orchestration across channels and touchpoints and are often the best step towards a cohesive customer experience.

However, for smaller companies the solution may actually be the opposite: Strip unnecessary technologies from your tech stack. As any marketer knows, automation isn’t fully automated and each added tech solution multiplies the complexity and therefore the orchestration issues you’ll encounter. Ask yourself — do you truly need every tech you’re using? Have they all delivered the value you thought they would? Alternatively, could you perhaps move some activities into more horizontal platforms that make orchestration slightly less complex?

Whatever the solution, aim to reduce friction by making cross-channel communications seamless. Today’s customers are on a variety of channels, from email to social media to apps — and your digital approach should reflect that.

Another way to be customer-centric? Make sure you’re not overwhelming customers with long blocks of text no one will read. Communication should be clear and simple. Talk to people like they’re… well, people. Which leads me to the next point.

Related Article: How Can Your Organization Truly Be Customer-Centric?

Learning Opportunities

Add Back the Human Touch

When you meet someone face-to-face, it’s immersive, visual and instant. Online? Not so much. But consumers still want an experience that feels authentic, an attribute particularly important to Gen Z.

How can brands meet this need? Research shows that 93% of communication is non-verbal, and audiovisuals are processed faster than text — in the same part of the brain where we process emotions. So to be human in a digital world, we need to be visual. That’s certainly what consumers are telling us with the rapid rise of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Video.

Think of how you can add visual and audiovisual components to the online experience. Sending an email? Include a GIF that auto-plays for eye-catching movement. SMS popup for a timely offer? Link it to a short clip that shows them what it’s all about. Populate apps, websites and other online interfaces with videos, graphics and more that invite them to dive deeper.

Remember that while this is your chance to put your brand on display, it’s also a way to start a conversation. Visual content, like the real-world experience it improves upon, can be interactive, so do more than just share a stock photo. Give users something original, engaging and inviting. Show instead of tell.

Make it Personal

Today’s consumers want online experiences to be relevant and personal. And businesses that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenues than those that don’t.

Personalization may sound daunting — but it doesn’t always have to be. Start with what you know, even if it’s just their first name, and build from there. As you grow your first-party data and get more comfortable, you can expand your personalization efforts.

At this point, the customer expectation is that all touchpoints across the customer journey will be fully personalized. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Onboarding: Greet new customers in a personal way to start the relationship off on the right foot. Take the opportunity to provide helpful advice that you know new customers could use.
  • Self-serve: Self-serve can be a win-win but often ends up being a lose-lose. Ensuring that the experience is personalized to the customer segment, region, device or other items goes a long way to changing that.
  • Show me the money: A generic hard sell has little chance of success. However, a soft, contextual sell personalized to past purchases, existing services or key contract points will not only wow customers, but also pad the bottom line.

Looking to the Future of CX

New technologies will keep popping up, some of them good and the others not so much. Virtually all of them will contribute to an already complex tech stack, and few of them will contribute to solving the three key challenges mentioned in this article.

The more digital and “at scale” our operations are, the less human and personalized they could become. But with the right choices, they don’t have to be.

Always prioritize technologies that help streamline CX and make it more personal and human. But most importantly, always keep the customer first — is this an experience the customer wants? And is it available when, where and how the customer wants it?

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