Why digital-led Customer Experience should now be a Customer Success requirement?

1. What is a digital-led customer experience?

Digital-led Customer Experience is a digital technology as a channel to create a seamless, personalized experience for customers.

Too often, customers get stuck in a journey, and they abandon the experience.
They might even go on social media and write about it.

Not only does it give the company a bad reputation, these customers are actually likely to leave and go search for an alternative.

So, instead, having a just-in-time way for the client to help themselves when they're unsure of what to do  helps them throughout the customer journey and provides really relevant information to meet their needs throughout the buying cycle, but also and very importantly, post-purchase.

2. Can you provide examples throughout the customer journey?

Better Awareness of the product before purchase

When looking at buying a product, you want to understand how it will alleviate your pain points as a buyer.

But if I am in a certain persona, I don't really care about other pain points, I care about mine.
So during awareness you can leverage the digital touchpoints of the user to better understand his needs and desired outcome.

Less friction at purchase

Later on, during the purchase it becomes paramount to alleviate friction. For instance, having an easy checkout process, multiple payment options, and fast delivery is essential.

All of those are really important, without ever having a need for human touch.

Personalized product adoption campaigns post-purchase

Post-purchase, emails that are personalized in relation to the product usage of the customer should be implemented.

In addition, chatbots and other digital communication will help the company with gathering feedback and provide personalized recommendations.

Loyalty programs for your customers

Last, but not enough companies think about this, digital-led strategies should include loyalty programs.

If you think about your favorite loyalty programs, for me, it might be Starbucks - they gamify everything and it's all through an app in which I can find the closest Starbucks - especially great when I'm traveling - and to make my purchase there. This really creates a great experience for your most loyal clients.

3. When should a company start focusing on digital experience?

I believe a digital experience, especially today, is not only essential in a company's overall strategy, but it's also never too late or early to start implementing it.

Too many times, companies start with a very hands-on approach and quickly realize it's not scalable.

So when they want to start changing their approach, they're in a reactive stage, and they start applying technologies without really understanding the customer journey.

So, regardless of where you are in your maturity, start to think about:

Do I have a customer journey map? Where are my customer’s common challenges in that journey and where do I risk losing my customers?

And then, where are the opportunities to expand that client? How can I apply a digital experience to them so they can upgrade quickly?

Or if they're about to abandon the experience, how can I provide support in real time?

A good example of this is United Airlines. They recently added a chat for their most loyal customers. And during the pandemic, when waiting for a human to answer that call, and all of these united agents were working at home, they offered people like me the opportunity to chat with an agent instead of being on hold for one to two hours.

At first I was skeptical. Will they be able to change my flight this way? They don't understand my situation. It will be too difficult.

But I didn't wanna wait one or two hours. So I tried it. And loved the experience.

It took less than 10 minutes for the agent to understand what my pain point was and go and change the itinerary for me.

So that's an amazing example of how to leverage a digital experience. Imagine how many chats that agent can be handled versus one person on the phone where you're just dedicated to that one experience?!

4. What are the most important customer experience red flags?

There are many signals that a company should focus on when they're thinking about how to apply a digital strategy.

Customer Satisfaction

The first thing you want to look at is low customer satisfaction.

One of the clients we're working with is a public company. And they are very successful.

However, they have a very low satisfaction rate, and they didn't realize it until they decided to start measuring not only their net promoter score, which is an indication of the customer experience, but also the customer satisfaction, which is typically measured when they are having a support experience with the customer success or support manager.

A declining customer satisfaction level is therefore a signal that you are trending in the wrong direction and no longer giving a positive experience.

Customer Churn

Customer churn or low retention rate, is another.

If customers are leaving your company at a high rate and not returning after the initial purchase, it could really be a sign that your company's failed to deliver a satisfactory experience.

Negative customer reviews

Too often, companies ignore negative customer reviews or feedback. They don't do anything about it.

So if your company is not regularly checking what clients or former clients say about your product and customer experience when you're not in the room, you're missing a huge signal that you should be paying attention to.

Decrease in sales, or revenue

That's another really big one. And again, companies aren't looking at this.

Customer support volume

On the customer support side, high customer support volume or an increase in the number of support tickets is a red flag to watch out for.

Similarly, if a customer is regularly engaged with you and suddenly completely withdraws from any support there might be something at odds there too.

These are extremes that you need to look at, especially with your most valuable customers.
Those are just some of the many signals that you should be paying attention to when thinking about how we apply a digital experience and where we are either losing customers or having a decrease in sales.

5. Is becoming more digital-led vs. entertaining high-touch relationships with their customers a better allocation of resources?

Maximizing the customer experience at scale is a highly debated topic.

I listen to companies who are early in their growth stage, smaller companies such as series A, series B. In these cases, they often believe that they are not at that moment yet where their product is simple enough to have a customer journey that's entirely digital-led. They often believe they need that high-touch.

And I disagree with them.

Usually, I end up arguing with them with data to show them how much money they're spending on hiring, what that customer experience is like, how much time there is to value (often a long time) all that back and forth.

Indeed, bringing people in who are lacking clear documentation from the engineering team, thus having the greatest trouble helping customers with the integrations at setup, is causing and holding them back from growth.

Whereas if they would pause, take the time to create a customer journey map with the right leaders in the room, they would quickly realize that there are common pain points throughout the customer journey where you can apply a digital experience.

What do I mean by digital experience?

I mean better knowledge-based articles, videos, documentation etc.

Like I mentioned, for the engineers, when it comes to integrations, all of those can hold up the onboarding and the value that the customers can experience.

And so once you show them with data, you build this customer journey map, and you start looking at the costs of digital versus hiring yet another person, you will see.

It's not about eliminating people, it's about giving your employees and your customers the tools they need to be empowered with your products, and that's where I think you really need to start when you think about scaling with digital.

6. What are the typical use cases and best practices to maximize CX at scale?

Fostering a digital customer experience starts with understanding the pain points that your product is resolving.

Also, who are the customer persona that you're selling to, and then what are the personas that are actually using your product.

So often, a decision-maker might be the chief operating officer, but it's actually the project managers and the engineers who are using the product.

In this case, you need to create customer journeys for the buyer and for the user and really understand what are the pain points, what do they really care about? And where could they potentially get stuck? 

Usually, the operating officer cares about reporting, how much it's costing, and the value it is getting.

However, the user wants to make sure they get their bonuses, they wanna make sure they can use the product. They want to make sure they look like a hero in their organization.

Very different persona. They deserve a different customer journey.

You need to understand how they are going to interact with your products and bring your leadership together to create that customer journey so they all understand.

Once you understand that, you might get a chance to expand. By expanding, we mean upselling more products, maybe more customers, within that customer account.

So understanding those opportunities for expansion and being alerted of such opportunities and automatically acting on them, by launching a targeting product upsell awareness campaign, can be an excellent example of applying a digital-led approach. 

So really, when you start by understanding the customer experience, sending them a survey, understanding what they wish they had more of, you will be able to jumpstart your digital-led strategy for your customers. At the very most fundamental you should be able to know the following: “across 80% of my customers, how can I simplify their journey with a few digital touchpoints?”

7. Is there a Customer Experience checklist to implement to make sure everything is fine in that regard?

I will take this from a book I recently read called The Joys of Agility, how to Solve Problems, and Succeed Faster”. It's written by Joshua Kerievsky. He's a CEO, entrepreneur, and he is all about agility.

And what I learned by reading that book is that you need to proactively learn and understand quickly what is working for a client experience, and then either move towards fixing it or enabling it or move away from it.

You need to test, you need to understand the customer journey, and just because it's working for you this quarter and this year, a pandemic might happen, a major economic recession might occur and change what you thought was working. At the beginning of the year, what your OKRs were, what your KPIs are, may not work if a major event occurs.

You start applying it to more customers, and then if there's a major event that occurs, your product has been enhanced, your customer needs change, you have more products to sell, you need to go back to that customer journey and understand, does this digital-led approach still work?

What can I do? What is no longer working? I need to reduce and apply a new strategy.

So really having that iterative, collaborative approach to digital-led, at least on a quarterly cadence and when a major event occurs, is critical to your customer success strategy.
Emilia D'Anzica
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