Customers increasingly use digital channels and devices in their interactions with retailers and brands. They shop online, they scan QR codes with their mobile phones, they price check items on tablets at home, and they respond to offers on digital signage at stores. Managing the digital customer experience, like the in-person customer experience, is critical for retention, customer loyalty, conversion, acquisition, and referrals.
Luckily, all of those digital interactions generate data — and lots of it. That data can provide insights into channel preferences, pricing and buying behaviors, conversion rates, campaign effectiveness, and other critical areas. Below, are three important tips for developing digital customer experience strategies.
1. Leverage analytics: You have to bring analytics to bear on all of that digital customer data to learn what your specific customers expect from their experiences with your company, both online and in person. Tracking information in spreadsheets or making educated guesses is no longer sufficient. Data analytics applied to the data you glean from website behavior and in-store digital activities can improve forecasting, promotions planning, online recommendations, shelf layout, and other important activities. Your customers are providing valuable information via the choices they make while they utilize your digital services; analytics helps turn that information into usable business intelligence.
2. Operations must support the digital strategy: The initiative must look beyond the front-end digital customer experience. It’s important to have an easy-to-use website and to offer mobile access (either through apps or a mobile-optimized version of your website), and it’s important to provide ways for shoppers to interact with you digitally while they are in your store. But your back-end operations have to be able to support those interactions. Pricing must be accurate and up to date. You must have real-time inventory information available so that customers can see what is available. You need the infrastructure in place within your supply chain to respond to orders, transfer inventory across stores or distribution centers, and have the forecasting capabilities in place to avoid out-of-stocks or markdowns.
3. Deploy intelligent digital signage: Digital signage in the store can act as a bridge between the digital customer experience and in-person interactions. One key e-commerce innovation (pioneered by Amazon and others) is the ability to automatically generate recommendations to customers based on the products they were viewing on a website or their previous online behaviors. In a brick-and-mortar store, those types of recommendations come from seasoned sales associates, but staff can’t talk to every customer every moment they are present. Digital signage not only provides eye-catching displays, it can provide recommendations to customers based on the merchandise they are viewing near the display. It can also encourage them to access the store or brand’s online resources and make impulse purchases based on special offers.
With digital signage, retailers can convey multiple messages at different times at a single location. That makes them more flexible (and valuable) than traditional paper signage and transfers some of the elements of the digital customer experience to the store. The technology also enables retailers to more quickly respond to the customer and inventory data they are receiving. Offers and information can be changed in real-time based on anything from unexpected drops in demand to extreme weather events. The digital customer experience plays a key role in increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Your customers should have a seamless, predictable experience whether they are interacting with your brand online, in a store, or via their mobile devices.