A Three Step Plan to Upgrade Your Digital Customer Experience

When the pandemic started, brands around the world revamped their digital customer experience to compensate for the lack of in-person interaction. And as vaccine rates continue to rise and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, some companies may think it’s fine to take a chill pill when it comes to improving digital channels. But that’s actually not the right attitude!

The data from our Digital Customer Experience Trends Report showcases why it’s so crucial for businesses to continue driving digital experiences in their CX programs. To unearth the trends, our Strategic Insights team collected over 2,000 responses across various industries—these include retail, grocery, pharmacy, financial institutions, restaurants, hospitality, automotive, healthcare, and entertainment—in both Canada and the United States. And with these responses, we were able to create a three step plan to upgrade your brand’s digital CX journey. Let’s hop right in!

  1. Keep Making Digital Experiences a CX Priority
  2. Focus on Ease of Digital Experiences
  3. Blend in-store and Digital Experiences

Step #1: Keep Making Digital Experiences a CX Priority

When COVID-19 restrictions were announced, many companies correctly predicted that the usage for digital platforms would increase. After all, how else could consumers interact with brands? However, our research tells us that the usage surprisingly didn’t skyrocket because of the pandemic:

According to the graph above, digital usage has been a trend for some time. Yes, the U.S. and Canada all experienced increases in digital use during the pandemic, but the numbers don’t lie! The highest increase across the board was only 13%. In all of these industries, consumers clearly maintained a demand for digital experiences.

Based on the data, digital experiences were relevant prior to the pandemic, which means it’ll stay relevant even after the government uplifts restrictions. This also means that the first step in improving your brands’ digital CX program is, you guessed it—continue to prioritize digital! Don’t take your foot off the gas just because people can go into the store. 

One way to do this can involve integrating key players from all backgrounds to create a core digital team. Those with expertise in user experience, marketing, web development, and the like can put their minds together to set up a game plan derived from actionable intelligence. This way your business gets multiple perspectives included in the process rather than solely the customer experience one. And don’t forget! Prioritizing doesn’t mean having just one meeting, it means a constant flow of team diligence over time.

Step #2: Focus on Ease of Digital Experiences

We just learned that consumers care about digital (and always have), but what specific qualities of digital experiences mean the most to them? According to our research, 50% of Americans and 67% of Canadians said it was easy to go digital, but also over half of Americans and 25% of Canadians spoke to how difficult it was to resolve technical issues through call centers. 

Based on the evidence above, convenience is one of digital’s strongest attraction factors. Consumers expect transitioning to digital experiences to be trouble-free, or else, why would they take the time to transition? Your brand should incorporate digital experiences without adding any extra hassle because using technology is meant to be just that—no extra hassle! 

It’s completely understandable if problems like app or website bugs still occur in your digital experience journey. Perfection is often an endless goal, but that doesn’t mean your company shouldn’t strive for it. To keep the digital experience itself just as smooth as the transition, your brand needs to provide resources when things go haywire. Implementing updated help pages or training call center agents can help make it easy for customers to get the assistance they need. This also keeps your digital team on their toes and attentive to how your company’s digital experience is evolving.

Step #3: Blend In-Store and Digital Experiences

Beyond the experience behind the screen, customers also want digital attributes to be integrated into in-store interactions. For instance, grocery stores with self-checkout options are a prime example of successfully blending the two. Our research even shows us that one of three Americans and one of two Canadians like and expect contactless payment in the stores they shop in. 

When refining your brands’ CX program, it’s important to design holistically so that both the digital and in-person elements work together seamlessly. There will be mishaps along the way, but the key is to adapt as you go. Customers expect quick changes to customer experiences and definitely notice when competitors beat your brand to it. So as your business adapts, make the effort to communicate those new and exciting features through emails or app notifications. Then customers will know your brand is continuously trying to make their experiences worthwhile. 

Enjoyed learning how to upgrade your digital customer experience? Read our 2021 Digital CX Trends Report to learn why digital is not going away anytime soon—and which steps your business should take to keep up with the digital world!

Customer Journey Mapping Explained: What Is It and Why Does it Matter?

If you’re in charge of customer experience (CX) at your organisation, you’ll know how important it is to take a walk in your customers’ shoes. But, do you know the true impact of visualising customer interactions? Brands who understand their customers’ journey stand out in the marketplace. InMoment’s global research found that organisations who have developed their customer journey map and understand experiences across these journeys reach the highest level of customer experience maturity. And, mature programs are aligned with outstanding business results. 

Mature businesses experience: 

  • 93% more profitability
  • 92% higher NPS scores
  • 89% greater retention

At InMoment, we believe experiences—the culmination of moments filled with emotions, judgments, learnings, and much, much more—shape the world we live in. And with every moment, there is an opportunity to make a positive impact; to leave a mark. 

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

When you look at the world through your customers’ eyes, you’ve started along a process called “customer journey mapping.” This process involves walking in the shoes of a typical customer as they discover your brand, interact with your products, and services, and decide if they’ll stay or switch to your competitor. Along their journey, there will be multiple opportunities to engage with them and deliver exceptional experiences. It’s time to understand—and own—the moments that matter to your customer.

Why Does Customer Journey Mapping Matter?

Customer journey mapping is a proven way to understand why people do what they do and what emotions drive them. With a customer journey framework, your business can take informed action to solve problems, provide a truly differentiated experience, and drive value for your customers, employees and business. 

How Can I Get My Hands on a Customer Journey Map Template?

Customer Journey Mapping is a flexible consulting engagement for organisations seeking more complete, accurate insights into what their customers really feel, perceive, and experience. It includes resources, expertise, and documentation—including detailed visual representations of the complete customer journey—to identify hidden moments that matter, and close the gap between internal CX perceptions and customer realities. At InMoment, we have in-house consultants who take on the challenge with you. 

Interested in learning more about customer journey mapping? This eBook “Five Steps to Uncovering the Real Customer Experience Journey,” breaks down the strategies you need to build, act on, and evolve your customer journey map. Read it here!

New Report: How Brands Have Delivered on COVID-19 Customer Experience

Over this past pandemic-ridden year, companies have been in a state of constant uncertainty as they’ve tried to deliver positive COVID-19 customer experiences. Businesses were forced to rework themselves into the digital landscape and prioritize customer safety. 

According to CX Standards, our ongoing customer experience study, businesses somehow defied the odds and succeeded in providing a satisfactory customer experience despite the barriers of the pandemic. Looking for proof? It’s in the numbers!

What CX Standards Had to Say About COVID-19 Experiences

COVID-19 Customer Experience

CX Standards tracks thousands of customer interactions with over 300 companies across 17 industries in the United States and found that, in 2020, most industries’ Net Promoter Score (NPS) increased in comparison to 2019, when more experiences were still in person.

The chart above summarizes our findings on how consumers ranked each industry in 2019 and 2020 according to their overall customer experience, which in turn gave us a big-picture look at how satisfied the general public is. For example, if you compare the spring and fall seasons for the technology, utilities, and professional services industries to non-pandemic periods, you can see how median customer satisfaction scores have improved. 

In the spring of 2020, median satisfaction scores were 9% higher than the months leading up to the pandemic. Similarly, the scores for the fall of 2020 increased 4% from the same time in 2019.  

You would think that overall customer satisfaction would have decreased drastically in 2020 because of all the obstacles that come with a virtual world, but instead, customers were generally more satisfied than when the world was “normal.” The question to ask, then, is what can we learn from how the customer experience has evolved during the pandemic?

Three Insights from COVID-19’s Impact on Customer Experience

  1. CX programs are essential to keeping your business afloat
  2. Online experiences make or break a consumer’s opinion of your brand
  3. CX will still hold weight in a post-pandemic world

Insight #1: CX Programs Keep Your Business Afloat

Businesses have had to respond quickly to the changes COVID-19 created: shifting from in-store to digital-only interactions, going to extreme lengths to make sure customers know that their products are sanitary and safe, and taking care of all their employees so they can do their work at home when possible. In order to survive, many brands employed new digital frameworks to continue to sell their products and services. For instance, the restaurant industry experienced one of the highest NPS increases in 2020 by integrating features like QR code menus to enhance outdoor dining experiences or partnering with third-party services for a smoother pick up/delivery.

The idea of so many businesses operating solely online seemed unimaginable just a year ago, but the pandemic forced that to become reality, teaching us that a solid CX program is the first step in successfully adapting to the digital consumer environment. People’s attention spans are shorter online, websites are just not the same as talking to a human being in a store, and customers’ problems can be hard to fix when they’re displayed on a computer screen.

The world will only transform more into a digitalized landscape, which has many advantages but also a fair share of challenges. The challenge for customer experience lies in still supplying the attentive customer service someone should receive in a store when that customer is interacting online.

Insight #2: Online experiences Make or Break a Consumer’s Opinion of Your Brand

It’s no secret that people barely take time to sift through a website—you probably don’t either. The consensus from several studies is that viewers spend less than a minute scrolling before they leave a website, which means that it takes just a few seconds for them to form an opinion. Even if a customer has never spoken to anyone in your company, your website speaks for you and it can easily communicate the wrong ideas.

One of InMoment’s customers had to face this issue when the pandemic hit. This major home goods retailer depended on in-person interactions to make sales, but with customers only being able to browse products online due to restrictions, it needed to circle back. 

With consultation from InMoment customer experience experts, the retailer transformed its website to include new digital listening posts like live chat, which allowed online salespeople to inform customers which products were more suited to their needs, just as they would in store! With these adaptations, the retailer was able to guide the online experience rather than risk customers leaving after having to scroll through endless pages of products.

Another factor to take into account is how brand reputation relies heavily on your online presence, which is not solely made up of your company website. It also consists of your social media posts and advertisements. A customer’s entire opinion of your business can be swayed with just a few clicks, so it’s imperative that your online customer experience be viewed as crucially as the in-person experience.

Insight #3: In a Post-Pandemic World, Customer Expectations Will Not Go Back to Normal

Now that customers are used to the benefits of digital, they might not want to go back to the same customer experiences they had before the pandemic. It’s not so crazy to think that customers will still want kiosk ordering at a restaurant instead of having to talk to the cashier, or to order a pair of shoes online and pick them up in store. After restrictions are lifted, customers will likely prefer a more hybrid approach and expect businesses to continue a strong online presence. 

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that it’s nearly impossible to predict the future. We may not be able to guarantee the status of customer satisfaction after businesses adapt, but what’s certain is that CX programs need to refine their digital and in-person strategies so companies can thrive moving forward. 

To read more about what we found out in our CX Standards study and how COVID-19 continues to impact the customer experience, check out this report!  

Three 2021 Customer Experience Trends You Need to Know

Looking back on last year, there’s one word that personifies the customer experience industry’s response to 2020’s unprecedented events: adaptation. Very few periods in history have tested and challenged our industry to level up, listen harder, and adapt our efforts to meet customer and employee feedback. With the new year already here, we’ve assembled a list of the three top customer experience (CX) program trends you can look forward to in 2021:

CX Trend #1: The Value of Continuous Listening 

We saw it throughout the year—when circumstances shift, our programs need to adapt as well. New channels, ways of purchasing, servicing, and working emerged overnight as people were suddenly required to stay home, go contactless, and take extra steps to ensure personal safety in a matter of days, or in some cases, overnight.

Ideally, new products, services, and ways of working are tested prior to going live, but this wasn’t always possible in 2020. Therefore, a test and learn mentality proved to be a valuable business asset. Many brands had to and learned to take a “launch first, listen second” approach using an adaptive, always-on listening solution to understand how customers and employees were responding to new initiatives, and then take action to adapt and improve those initiatives. To evolve at speed, brands will need to consider continuing or adopting this approach as external factors such as the Coronavirus require them to change and evolve quickly for success.

Further Reading: How You Listen Matters: Modernizing Your Methods & Approach to Customer Feedback

CX Trend #2: Focusing on the (New) Moments that Matter

Respecting our customer’s effort and time continues to be paramount, especially when considering the  busy lives and conflicting priorities customers must balance. Factor in any extra anxiety around COVID-19 and our appreciation for people’s time and energy must be even greater. 

Heading into 2021, it is more important than ever to design and structure a CX program around the key moments that matter to your customers. With all of the changes in 2020, those key moments may have altered slightly or changed all together, especially with the new purchasing and servicing paths that have emerged and new channels that have appeared. Customer journey mapping will help you with this in two ways: 

  1. To identify and prioritise the high-impact and high-emotion moments for your most valued customers
  2. To help employees recognise, react to, and own those moments that matter. From there, you can make meaningful and impactful adjustments to the business. 

Customer journey mapping will more than ever help brands ensure they are respecting their customer’s effort and time by focusing on and enhancing the moments that really matter to them.

Further Reading: Five Steps for Uncovering the Real Customer Journey 

CX Trend #3: Understanding and Communicating the ROI Impact of CX

Many CX programs start out with the belief that “CX is the right thing to do” and are able to gain sponsorship from a senior executive within the organisation based on that logic. However, 2020 brought about greater scrutiny on resources and budgets. So, as we go into 2021, it will be more important than ever for CX teams to understand and prove the return on investment of CX programs. 

Understanding how your CX program supports key financial and business outcomes for your organisation is paramount. To connect the dots, combine your CX and business/financial data, analyze the relationships between the two, working collaboratively with your finance team. Ensure the links are understood across the organization so it is obvious to internal stakeholders that your CX program is contributing to the overall success of the business. Many CX programs initially have the goal ‘to improve the customer experience,’ but undertaking the necessary analysis to prove the financial benefits will ensure ongoing investment for your program and CX initiatives.

Further watching: How to Demonstrate the Value of Experience Improvement to C-Suite and Beyond

Wrapping Up

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year like no other. As we head into 2021 with new resilience, at InMoment we are looking forward to the upcoming industry trends that will come along with it. Adaptation is what defined 2020, but more importantly, it will be what takes us forward.

‌Here’s to a healthy and happy 2021 for you and yours.

If you’re interested in learning more, here are some of our top content pieces of the year for you to read.

Download here:

How COVID-19 Changed Customer Experience Forever

Many of us may try to forget 2020 altogether, but the changes that COVID-19 brought to the world won’t disappear anytime soon. Customer experience (CX) practitioners the world over are reckoning with this challenge as they make sense of a new experience landscape. In order to fully understand the path forward, however, it’s important to take a look at what exactly happened in 2020 and how COVID changed customer experiences forever.

The Early Trends

As I discussed in my recent article on this subject, I saw a number of trends in the CX world really take off at the beginning of the pandemic. Some of these trends were already on the rise before the Coronavirus arrived, but this crisis has expedited their trajectory. This is most true of contactless payments. Digitisation had already made these the norm for many businesses and industries, but as I’m sure you can imagine, customers on high alert for virus-contaminated surfaces have propelled it to new heights.

Relatedly, many major brands introduced initiatives that further reduce physical contact between customers and frontline employees. These initiatives were already linked to increased digitisation in many respects, but social distancing and other health guidelines have really thrust them into focus. As a result, this trend of brands keeping customers and employees separate wherever possible has been humming along these last 9-10 months—and isn’t ending anytime soon.

The Homebody Economy

Quarantine and social distancing have changed customer life in ways beyond shopping. Though it probably comes as no surprise, the amount of people who commute via train here in the United Kingdom has dwindled to a tiny fraction of pre-2020 numbers. A COVID-19 vaccine is gradually being made available in this country, yes, but commuter trends aren’t likely to return to any sort of “normal” in the near future.

Closer to home, we’re seeing what I call “the homebody economy” maintain its grip on quarantined customers all over the globe. It used to be that work, personal activities, and other endeavors were clearly distinct from one another, but as the months at home have dragged on, all of these pursuits have mixed together. Additionally, we’ve seen the development of a “time soup” made of shifting shopping habits—customers are now much more likely to make purchases during the week than risk crowds on the weekend.

The Next Step

All of these strengthening and emerging trends—from increasing contactless payments to the homebody economy—have already had a profound effect on the customer experience paradigm. They present new, unanticipated challenges for CX teams and practitioners, especially as demand for some products and services across industries has fallen due to economic hardship.

The question, then, is how exactly can brands respond to these challenges, especially since they’re not going away anytime soon?

Click here to learn more about my take on this subject, the obstacles brands face in the age of COVID, and how they might find success for themselves and their customers as we transition to 2021.

What Holiday Shoppers Expect In Store & Online

Do you know what holiday shoppers need from you this season? What about what matters most to them in store? Or what is most important to them when it comes to their experience on your website?

If you’re unsure, don’t simply guess what your customers are looking for. Instead, check out this infographic we created based on a study we did that surveyed 5,000 North American customers about their expectations for the holiday shopping season!

What Holiday Shoppers Expect In Store & Online

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