Why Digital Experience Management Should be a top Priority for Today’s Companies

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By Zeus Kerravala, Forbes

Most business leaders understand that customer experience (CX) is now the top brand differentiator and have invested heavily in modernizing their call centers. This has improved customer service but, in many cases, digital interfaces also need modernizing. This is in large part because the pandemic has not only pushed businesses into becoming digital; it’s forced many businesses to become digital-first, where their mobile website or app is the first point of customer contact.

Digital experience management (DEM) should therefore be a top initiative for companies that conduct business online. DEM helps surface and analyze the digital experiences customers are having with your brand on both mobile and web. By mining all digital channels for information, your business can gain insights about where customers are spending time on your site and where they are running into problems, then apply those insights to optimize customer experience and improve conversion rates.

For example, most consumers have had the experience where digital checkout becomes so complicated or tedious that they abandon the transaction entirely and say, “Forget it. I’m going to buy from somebody else.” Robust DEM can uncover the specific pain point(s) causing digital checkout leaks by analyzing how customers navigate around the page. If a particular field takes customers twice as long to fill out because it isn’t built properly, DEM can troubleshoot and fix the issue, often leading to dramatically higher conversion rates and great customer experience.

Hiring A Digital Experience Officer

The first step in implementing DEM is to hire a digital experience officer. Because DEM is an emerging field, much of the digital experience officer’s role may have historically been wrapped into the roles of the CMO, Head of Sales and/or Head of Operations. From today’s company perspective, the digital experience officer should work with these other executives, because there are many different business roles that focus on at least one part of the digital experience.

There are two important aspects of the digital experience officer’s job. First, there’s the innovation side, which factors in price engagement and product engagement, as well as how to drive better content engagement and better sales. Then there’s the troubleshooting side, which identifies customer roadblocks; e.g, are they having trouble completing order forms or are they having problems checking out? Both sides are necessary. Instead of putting all of their eggs in the innovation basket, companies need to focus on troubleshooting too.

DEM should also work integratively with the company contact center. A good way to think of this relationship is to imagine the contact center as the reactive side and DEM as the proactive side. There are many instances where these two sides overlap. For example, when a customer has a problem, they pick up the phone and call the contact center. If they call because they noticed an issue with the website, the call center should have the necessary visibility to address the issue.

Finding The Right AI-Based Tools

Typically when it comes to DEM, the more granular your insights, the better. But it’s most important to have the right AI-based tools that can analyze those insights. The current AI vendor landscape is somewhat fragmented and includes a wide range of vendors that address different aspects of DEM, such as Tealium (customer data platform), Optimizely (digital experience optimization), Kibo (unified commerce), Qualtrics (experience optimization) and Contentsquare (digital and mobile analytics).

Some products are targeted at the technical buyer while others are used by business analysts and yet others are preferred by product analysts. The ideal solution is end-to-end and focused at a chief digital officer. This can be achieved by choosing vendors that are open and integrate with one another.

There are many customer touchpoints on a mobile website – a landing page, individual category pages with a lot of details, a checkout page and even more pages for customer services and returns. There are many tools that each address one aspect of the sales journey, but a true DEM solution understands how all of these parts work together.

It’s important to understand that because CX is the top brand differentiator, everyone in your company who plays a role in deploying the CX strategy must be equipped with actionable customer intelligence. The CX war is won on speed – waiting for analysts to decipher data won’t help a business on Cyber Monday, as the company will not have time to make decisions instantly with a high level of confidence.

Moving Forward

DEM really comes down to optimizing both web and mobile experiences. Until now, the latter has been the most undervalued. But the pandemic has forced many customer touchpoints onto mobile apps for ordering everything from coffee to groceries – and those behaviors are here to stay.

Companies that didn’t put a big focus on the mobile or web experience before now have to, because these touchpoints no longer augment the sales process; in many cases, they have become the primary sales process. In a world that’s digital-first, mining digital insights with DEM will be the difference between companies that sink and those that swim.

Mobile devices have long been considered “outdoor” or “on-the-go,” but they have now been established as the preferred digital device for much of society. More traffic than ever before comes from smartphones and this past year’s growth has been the sharpest in history. The lesson here isn’t just to redesign everything for mobile, but to have an agile platform that can adapt to whatever comes next, however fast the change is. The ability to take cues directly from customers is part of the recipe for long-term success and staying ahead of the curve.

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