As of July 2022, there were more than five billion internet users worldwide - a figure that continues to climb close to 4% annually. People are also spending increasingly more time online, with the average internet user aged 16 to 64 spending almost seven hours across all connected devices per day.
For businesses, this widespread internet usage means that a considered digital strategy is no longer just a nice-to-have, with digital customer experience having become a key commercial differentiator. But what is digital experience exactly, and how can a business ensure that it is delivering the best experiences possible across all its digital touchpoints?
What is digital experience and how does it relate to customer experience?
Digital experience (DX) is a complimentary component of the overall customer experience (CX). The end-to-end customer experience is defined as the series of all interactions that a customer has with an organisation throughout the duration of their relationship. DX refers specifically to the interactions that take place on digital channels. The most popular digital channels among customers include:
- Responsive websites and other owned or affiliated web properties
- Live chat functions and chatbots
- Email correspondence
- Digital business applications (apps)
- Corporate social media pages
As is the case with traditional CX, it is important to remember that DX encompasses the entire process of any digital interaction, from first clicking on the relative touch point, to navigating the channel, having access to customer support, and receiving follow-up services.
Why is digital experience important?
According to the 2022 Connectivity Benchmark Report, nearly three-quarters (72%) of organisations’ customer interactions are now digital. Quick, streamlined processes are now the norm and have come to be expected by consumers. Understanding DX therefore enables a business to be more proactive when it comes to creating experiences that better engage prospective customers, satisfy current users, and enhance employee experiences.
What are the key factors that impact digital experience?
An effective digital experience strategy requires businesses to think specifically about how each of their digital interfaces works. The goal is to deliver a seamless experience across all available customer touch points. These are the most important elements to consider:
- Availability: The existence and reliability of a user’s preferred digital channel
- Performance: The speed and ease at which the digital channel operates
- Technical smoothness: The channel does not contain any errors or broken components hindering the user from interacting with the touchpoint
- Usability: The user can easily initiate and complete what they set out to do on their digital channel of choice
- Service convenience: The ease of digital service and support functions offered throughout the experience
How is digital experience measured?
To measure DX, businesses are reliant on feedback from their users and customers. By listening to this feedback, companies can essentially monitor what works and what doesn’t. This enables constant iteration and innovation, improving DX over time.
While metrics like customer satisfaction score (CSAT) surveys and net promotor scores (NPS) are very popular and provide useful review data, these traditional customer and market research methods are backward-looking indicators that date quickly – especially in the digital space. For example, by the time a business receives critical feedback on their app from survey results, it may be weeks or even months too late to take quick corrective action.
The most effective approach to the digital experience is to have full visibility, in real-time, of the customers’ engagement via digital touchpoints. The ability to track customer preferences and behaviours at a granular level, and react quickly to any points of friction, significantly improves the experience for the customer.
Employing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms can help to sort through large volumes of data quickly and flag trends and patterns. Future-focused, customer-centred businesses are also increasingly tapping into unsolicited customer feedback online and using the Net Sentiment metric to accurately bolster DX insights and reporting.
What is Net Sentiment?
Net Sentiment is an aggregated customer satisfaction metric that is a critical component in the quest for an authentic and complete voice-of-customer. Offering a real-time alternative to lagging metrics like NPS, Net Sentiment is measured by collecting unstructured text from publicly available online conversations.
Each data point is scored as positive (1), neutral (0) or negative (-1). A score is then calculated by subtracting total negative conversation from the total positive conversation (Net Sentiment = positive conversation – negative conversation). To calculate percentage Net Sentiment, this score is divided by the total number of posts (positive, neutral and negative) during that period.
Social media as a data-source for real-time digital experience feedback
The volunteered and real-time nature of online conversation makes it a valuable and leading indicator of the factors which influence digital experience. By linking Net Sentiment to the underlying drivers of customer opinion, businesses can conduct root cause analysis and use this feedback to inform strategic and operational decision-making.
Social media is an ideal and rich source of publicly available data. An estimated 67% of consumers now use social media to seek resolutions for issues, and unlike typical survey methods, the views are volunteered, without prompting on what to say or how to say it.
Monitoring the Net Sentiment of a business’ social media conversation therefore provides an accurate and continuous measure of the users’ digital experience.
Great digital experience doesn’t just happen by accident
Businesses with a successful DX strategy make a conscious effort to align business objectives with their customer expectations. With DX having become a key differentiator, businesses that plan for the maturity of their organization’s customer journey are equipped with a competitive advantage.