Digital touchpoints like websites, mobile phones, and tablets can drive revenue, lower costs, build brands, and engender customer loyalty. This shouldn't be new news to anyone reading this. But to achieve these potential benefits, you need to deliver digital interactions that meet your customers' needs in easy and enjoyable ways. That isn't as easy as it sounds. Companies struggle on a daily basis to identify what digital experience improvements they need to make -- and, once that's nailed down, how exactly to make them.
In our recent report, Ron Rogowski and I outline the top tools and processes that can help you make digital customer experience improvements that matter. Want a preview? Read on.
The first set of recommendations will help you determine what it is you need to improve:
No. 10: Flex your analytics and operational data. Quantitative data from analytics platforms and internal operations systems -- like those used in your call center -- separates fact from fiction. In other words, it shows you customers' real behavior patterns. Mining this data can uncover experience improvement opportunities.
No. 9: Conduct expert reviews of Web, mobile, and tablet touchpoints. Expert reviews, also known as "heuristic evaluations" or "scenario reviews," are quick and inexpensive ways to determine what's currently broken on your sites and apps. To conduct an expert review, you need to jump into the shoes of your customers and try to complete realistic tasks, all while looking for well-known customer experience issues.
No. 8: Reach out to real customers. It's easy for behind-the-scenes staff to get out of sync with real customers' needs. When that happens, digital project team members will inevitably make decisions based on flawed assumptions about customers' knowledge and preferences. To quell design debates and accurately focus project priorities, integrate input from your actual customers on an ongoing basis.
The second set of recommendations will help you redesign your digital touchpoints:
No. 7: Adopt proven user-centered design processes. The right digital interactions, implemented the right way, don't just happen. Instead, they must be actively designed. This requires learning -- and then sticking to -- the steps in an iterative, human-centered design process that includes research, analysis, ideation, prototyping, and testing.
No. 6: Take advantage of the inherent characteristics of digital touchpoints. Websites, mobile phones, and tablets offer many different ways for customers to connect with your company -- and each other. However, they vary wildly in their display characteristics and capabilities, and these factors have a significant effect on the customer's experience. That's why you need to abandon a one-size-fits-all approach and design digital interactions with these inherent differences in mind.
No. 5: Get outside help when and where you need it. Since the dawn of the Web, companies have been struggling with the decision of whether to build in-house digital teams or partner with external specialists. While in-house design and development teams have the advantage of deep domain knowledge, in today's complex landscape, it's difficult for any but the savviest internal teams to do it all themselves. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
No. 4: Plan for the post-launch reality. Digital project teams put an incredible amount of effort into any initial launch -- but that's just day one of a digital touchpoint's life. What happens on day two through infinity? Companies that launch without an answer to this question ultimately wind up with unsupported sites and orphan apps that confuse or annoy their customers. Don't fall into this launch-it-and-leave-it trap. Plan for the inevitable.
The third set of recommendations will help you help you ensure that your digital touchpoints support your business objectives:
No. 3: Bolster your company's brand. Whether you're fixing a small usability bug, gutting your entire website, or launching a new mobile app, every decision that you make will ultimately shape your brand in some way. Unfortunately, the digital experiences that many companies deliver inadvertently dilute -- or worse, blatantly contradict -- their core brand messaging. To create digital experiences that support the brand image you want to portray, you need to incorporate content, functionality, and design elements that align with key brand attributes.
No. 2: Measure digital touchpoint performance against business metrics. Digital customer experience projects don't get funded without some anticipated benefit to the business. To clear the path for initial funding and ongoing support, you need to measure and evangelize the impact of customer experience on the business metrics that matter most to your organization.
No. 1: Unify the overall customer experience. Today's digital landscape is distributed across a fractured array of services and devices. It's also increasingly entangled with physical touchpoints and environments. With customers able to interact through multiple channels at any given moment -- and often using multiple touchpoints in pursuit of a single goal -- companies need to ensure that they present a coherent face across all interactions.
If you'd like to learn more about these recommendations, please join Ron Rogowski and me for a two-part webinar series on September 25 and September 26 from 1 2p.m. EST. On September 25, we'll present recommendations no. 10 through no. 6. On September 26, we'll present recommendations no. 5 through no. 1.
About the Author: Kerry Bodine is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research serving Customer Experience professionals. She blogs at http://blogs.forrester.com/kerry_bodine and tweets at @kerrybodine