Digital transformation has made organizations rethink the way they do business. Previously, the driver of change was the organization’s need to optimize business processes but in recent times, it is the customer who has forced companies to examine its interaction models closely. Indeed, organizations now know that the only way forward in an extremely competitive market is to put the customer experience and journey front and center.
Why digital customer experience is important
The digital customer experience is the customer’s journey and interactions with a company from discovery to purchase and after-service that add up to a holistic impression of the brand that stays in the customer’s mind long after the transactions.
The pandemic changed the purchasing behavior and expectations of the customer overnight. Customers did mostly online shopping, reducing their store visits to the bare minimum. This made companies re-look their digital touchpoints and ensure that the customer experience was seamless. The customer journey today starts digitally and is likely to continue digitally throughout the lifecycle.
Organizations thinking about reworking their customer experiences may need a change in basic assumptions. This is because of the common misconception it is only about introducing technology into marketing functions. That may no longer be enough in today’s digitized marketplace. Many companies will need to understand their customers deeply and become truly customer-centric. This may require a deeper digital transformation and will require changes on the supply chain and operational fronts as well.
Customer experience in a digitized world is not merely digital. Customers are interested in a seamless experience overall. They do not differentiate between the in-store and online shopping experience. Therefore, it is necessary to make sure all customer interactions and touchpoints are connected and integrated to provide a smooth journey from discovery, service to point of sale, and customer retention.
The digital customer experience is one that needs to be re-designed often as customer expectations change. So, a company’s digital channels must be continually updated and highly innovative or the company risks losing business.
Digital transformation leads the way
Starbucks, the world’s largest coffeehouse chain is often cited as a successful digital transformation case study that has embraced the digital customer experience. This is a brand that has relied on the in-person connection with customers via their stores and baristas. It underwent a digital transformation in recent times that has made it resilient to the pandemic-related disruption.
Starbucks used technology effectively both on the front end with its mobile app and loyalty program to connect with the customer and with operations and supply chain to manage inventory and cut costs. Its mobile app offers convenience – quick ordering, customization, and easy pay, which ensures the smoothest possible transaction. Customer engagement is facilitated by the app’s loyalty program which is among the most popular across the world with over 19 million members.
The company studied consumer behavior changes during the pandemic – reduced store visits, reluctance to wait in lines, and online ordering. It recently announced it would increase convenience-led formats in coffee houses in North America with a drive-thru and curbside pickup options, all of which would be driven by the app. The digital transformation led the way for Starbucks to leverage the data and retain a customer-centric focus through a global crisis.
The current disruption has made businesses re-evaluate how they are operating. There is evidence to show that companies who are customer-centric are the ones weathering the storm. The digital customer experience is increasingly becoming the deciding factor that can make or break a brand. Businesses that wish to develop a superior digital customer experience should therefore think about a larger digital transformation and innovation that will make them resilient to future challenges.