How Digital Customer Experience Has Transformed in the Past Decade


The greatest changes in customer experience over the past decade have been in the ways customers interact with brands.

The digital customer experience has exponentially evolved over the past decade, hurried along by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the huge increase in the number of digital interactions the typical customer has had over the past few years, customer expectations have grown while customer patience has decreased. The always-on customer expects brands to be ready to do business at all hours of the day, and they expect exceptional customer service to go with it.

Let’s take a look at the changes in the digital customer experience over the past few years, the trends that will continue to change it in the future and how these changes have affected the way that brands interact with their customers today.

Digital Customer Experiences of the Past and Present

The greatest changes in customer experience over the past decade have been the ways customers interact with brands. Personalization is not new; Amazon was already offering personalized recommendations way back in 1998, however, both its website and personalization efforts were minimalist.

Fast forward another decade. By 2010, many people had progressed from flip phones to smartphones, social media was huge and streaming media services were very popular. Online commerce was limited to traditional websites and mobile apps, and it was still rare to interact with a brand in a hyper-personalized manner. This is what Amazon looked like in 2010:

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This brings us to today, when the level of hyper-personalization that brands can provide is second to none. Amazon, for instance, knows if its customers are Prime members, as well as the movies they are likely to want to watch, the products they have been researching, and the items that they have purchased in the past and are likely to purchase again.

It also knows the food items the customer has previously ordered from Amazon Fresh, so it is able to present the customer with a list of items they are likely to need again in their next food order.

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When an Amazon customer receives an email from Amazon regarding items they may be interested in, the customer is very likely to both read the email as well as click through to the Amazon website. If Amazon requests that customers rate their interactions or review products they have purchased, customers are typically more inclined to do so, as they recognize that many other customers use those reviews to decide whether or not to purchase a product. Additionally, if the customer is a Prime member, most items are shipped for free with one or two-day delivery.

amazon prime

Amazon’s customer service efforts are also extremely personalized. If a customer has a problem with anything they have ordered on Amazon, the customer can open a chat with a live agent, or receive a phone call to discuss their problem — and the call comes in immediately. The majority of the time, the customer leaves the call feeling emotionally satisfied that the retail giant actually cares about them and has taken steps to ensure that their problem is solved. Amazon is an example of a brand that provides an exceptional digital customer experience. 

Jeff Piazza, senior vice president (SVP) of experience design at Orion Innovation, a digital transformation and product development services firm, told CMSWire consumers expect products and services they use to be personalized for them, and that it’s table stakes in today’s digital economy. “Systems that understand what customers like, and more importantly, what they don’t like, build the relationship between that user and brand,” Piazza explained.

Related Article: Is Your Organization’s Digital Customer Experience Proactive or Reactive?

The ‘Always On’ Customer Experience

Personalization is not the only way that the digital customer experience has changed. Today, customers can interact with a brand through their brick-and-mortar storefront, mobile app, website, chatbot, customer service agents and more. These “always on” consumers interact with personal digital assistants in their homes and cars, they use smart TVs that enable them to use voice-to-stream digital content and they livestream music events in their homes. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are now used for gathering and analyzing social, historical and behavioral data, which enables brands to gain a much more complete understanding of their customers. As such, customers are now using AI-driven chatbots for customer service, which create personalized experiences that satisfy, rather than frustrate customers like the chatbots and interactive voice response (IVR) systems of decades ago did. 

The digital experience has also changed the way that customers do their shopping. Because of the pandemic, people did not want to go inside grocery stores or be in contact with other people, so they began doing more shopping online. Not only could they purchase products and groceries via a website or app (such as Amazon Fresh), they could either have their order delivered to their doorstep, or have it ready to be picked up curbside at the grocery store (such as Walmart). Once consumers realized how convenient it was, they continued to do so even after the pandemic wasn’t as much of a concern. This also occurred when consumers began to use meal delivery apps such as UberEats and DoorDash.

Michelle Berryman, SVP of user experience at Hero Digital, a digital customer experience company, told CMSWire that in recent years, the digital customer experience has become a lot more fluid than ever before. “When brands engage, they must be quick and right on target to cultivate meaningful digital experiences, which must be seamlessly augmented into any physical experience,” Berryman said. In the past, customers often felt that the digital customer experience was independent of other brand experiences, “but this is no longer the case, and it can’t be.” 



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