Shopping Product Reviews

Moving Forward: The Digital Customer Experience of Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond

It’s no secret that the digital marketplace is expanding at a breakneck pace. So customer expectations are rising dramatically. Meeting these needs can make all the difference in the world between a failed business and one that is destined to succeed. Unfortunately, I have seen many companies that continue to struggle to adapt to such technologies. Potential customers are not only increasingly critical of the way a product or service is presented, but the inclusion of mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets also needs to be addressed. So how can the implementation of the right digital strategy improve the user experience and what techniques should be adopted? Let’s take a closer look at these two important questions.

The Internet of Things (Evolving)

The first point to keep in mind is that, unlike a few years ago, users are much more aware of what comprises a quality website and a strong presentation. No longer will a visitor wait for a website to load for an excessive amount of time; it is likely that you will simply return to the search results page and look elsewhere. Users are looking for ease of navigation, proactive product content, social media contacts, and the ability to interact directly with the business. Also, we should never forget that third party review sites are now becoming critical in determining which business is preferred over another.

In turn, customer-facing companies are changing their strategies to present a multi-pronged approach to improve the user experience. Sites are more optimized. The “curated approach” now goes a long way. The text is written for organic searches unlike Google’s algorithms. Also, platforms like WordPress are now being used as opposed to outsourcing web design to a professional. One final note focuses on the undeniable fact that even the largest companies are now making full use of social media. Words like “viral” and “blog” have now become industry standards. Indeed, it’s a brave new world, but progress doesn’t stop there.

The rise of the smartphone

It is estimated that no less than twenty-five percent of Internet access is now via mobile devices. In fact, this trend is expected to accelerate in the coming months and years. As more users are now enjoying remote access, some sites are having a hard time coping. In fact, I have seen many that still lack the ability to display properly on a smartphone or tablet screen. Mobile and portable devices are here to stay. They are not a whim or a passing fad. As more companies realize this fact, more integration will inevitably happen naturally (so they don’t suffer the consequences).

Companies are taking this problem seriously. They are now developing their platforms in versions that are as compatible with mobile devices as they are with a static PC. Apps and widgets are all the rage now; both provide quick access to products and services that are literally at your fingertips.

Still, we have to appreciate the undeniable fact that many sites will need to fully optimize their current formats to accommodate this paradigm shift. Naturally, some are better at doing this than others. Mobile app creation (although almost unheard of just a few years ago) is now one of the biggest businesses on the internet.

CRM’s alphabet soup

Customer relationship management is now essential. The end user expects their needs to be met in a real-time scenario. This is the main reason why we now see live chat widgets integrated into many websites. While a static contact form or phone number is great, many customers want to speak to a representative in real time. This allows you to feel that you have a personal relationship with the company in question. In turn, the company can address any issues as they arise. So the company can ask “How are we doing?” as opposed to “How did we do it?”.

More than the Client Alone

Without the correct exposure, the dreams of any business can never take flight. Therefore, proper SEO techniques are also becoming paramount from a marketing point of view. Gone are the days of so-called “dark hat” techniques, such as keyword stuffing. Now, the text is written with the consumer in mind and the latest updates from Google (like Penguin). This has two main purposes. First, no one wants to feel like a site is targeting bots instead of their wishes. Second, Google absolutely LOVES text and web design that is attractive to its search engine. The end results are higher rankings, more incoming traffic, and of course, a higher chance of converting a visitor into a customer.

I think this is one of the biggest challenges in digital business today. Management needs to carefully balance SEO and exposure techniques with the ability to actively address customer needs. In other words, in the new world of the “Internet of Things”, a robust digital strategy needs to be employed in synergy with user experience and business needs.

All things considered…

From my point of view, the concepts we have described are not what we would call rocket science. It has been known for quite some time that the success of any operation is measured by how the customer is addressed and the level of exposure that a marketing campaign allows. Still, this is often easier said than done.

We need to remember that the tactics that worked yesterday and today may very well be obsolete tomorrow. Or, a whole new market may open up (or your customers start using new devices, like smartphones and maybe even a smartwatch). Although technical knowledge is great to possess, management should strive to stay on top of the digital world and have a digital strategy in place for good execution. This will allow any business to keep pace with rising consumer expectations while ensuring that online efficiencies are constantly growing.

Do you have a digital strategy that encompasses your organization’s people, processes and tools? Sometimes we will see that there is a great appetite to finance the development of a tangible initiative but less appetite to ensure the successful execution of the initiatives. While that has often been the case, we now see clients feeling the pain of not having a digital strategy in place and doing the work of optimizing their business.

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