The customer experience has gone through a digital transformation, evolving from the physical storefront to digital channels and vastly changing how companies handle their CX management. With the rise of digital touch points and the omnichannel experience, digital advances are making a big difference in the way your customers travel through purchasing stages.
The History of Customer Experience
The customer experience started with the first market stalls, shops and restaurants. The original customer experience focused entirely on in-person interactions. In the 1880s, the first vending machine was introduced, according to Retail Customer Experience. With the introduction of this device, for the first time the customer interacted with a machine instead of with a human touch point.
In 1888, Sears introduced the first print catalog to its customers, and it didn't take long for other companies to follow suit. The 1986 introduction of shop-at-home channel QVC proved to be a high-water mark in television-based advertising, continuing the customer experience evolution. As the Internet became more popular, companies began dipping their toes in the digital water, with Amazon and eBay building the landscape for today's modern e-commerce experience.
The Impact of Digital on the Customer Experience
The digital influence on the customer experience substantially changed how you interact with your customers. Your web features and digital operations now coexist to deliver unique touch points along the customer journey, as well as complementing other CX channels such as the in-store experience. CMO reports 76 percent of retail customer touches take place through their website, followed by 73 percent through email messages, 50 percent with in-person store visits and 43 percent through mobile.
The digital expansion of touch points introduces more complexity into the customer experience, but it also provides a variety of channels for you to reach your audience. Nowadays, your target market can find you through social media, your website blog, forums, Youtube and many other digital channels. Instead of customers viewing you as a faceless organization with only floor staff as their primary connection to the company, they can engage with you through other options and become immersed in a complete brand experience.
The Omnichannel Customer Experience
Many companies are still lagging behind on creating quality digital customer experiences; indeed, Cognizant reports under 30 percent of companies feel their digital CX is truly excellent. One way to improve your digital experience is to implement an omnichannel approach to CX.
An omnichannel approach goes beyond simply using multiple CX channels, such as your website, an e-commerce store and a physical storefront. Instead, all channels are integrated and share relevant data. For example, if a customer shops in your store, the purchase history data is shared with your web and e-commerce experience, along with relevant loyalty card information. If the customer calls in to customer support, the support rep has the customer information, purchase history and potential reasons for calling already prepared.
An integrated approach creates a seamless experience that matches the modern customer journey. Customers move from channel to channel, going from the web to mobile to in-store throughout each purchase stage. The digital customer experience should reflect this as well, providing the resources needed at each step so customers don't have to put much effort into continuing toward a purchase decision.
The digital era completely transformed the customer experience. You have more channels to track, multiple strategies to work with and customers who jump back and forth between channels on a consistent basis. It's more difficult to pin down all the elements of a quality CX with a digital influence, but when you get it right your customers notice.