Defining Digital Customer Experience

Before we can talk about digital CX and why it matters, we need a working definition for what it is. So here's ours, and why it's the biggest thing you're probably not focusing on.

With customer experience and digital transformation taking two of the top five spots on the C-suite’s list of key goals since 2015, one would expect that a definition of digital CX would be easy to come by. However, as is so often the case with anything around communication, there’s what we think, what we write, and what’s read. So we’re going to take a minute or two before we start to define exactly what digital customer experience is, and isn’t.

Firstly, whilst we’ll be talking about organisational architecture in this document, digital CX design is not marketing or digital transformation. Too often, organisations embark on a digital transformation initiative and try and improve their marketing by plugging in a new CRM, doing some “visioning”, deciding they need a blockchain delivered by Agile team and call it day. Which is, frankly, nonsense.

As a result of this mess, to be clear at the outset, here’s our definition of digital CX design:

The emotional sum of the experiences people have interacting with your organisation, through online and related media and touchpoints

Whilst that means that of course your organisational architecture must necessarily affect the experiences people have with your organisation, they don’t cause the experience. They just magnify what’s there.

It also means that this covers not just your consumers, but your employees. The people bit is not just those which pay the bills, but the organisation itself as well. Remember, the technologies your people use to conduct their work and interact with users also influences the experience the consumer has. So whilst CX might mean fixing the UI of a consumer-facing element of your digital presence, or conducting brand marketing to improve what people think of you, it might also mean working to develop better internal comms to enable a better digital experience for consumers.

Thus excellent user experience is improved by digital-first, CX-focused organisational architecture. It’s the bottom of the iceberg, creating and supporting the part people see and interact with. In our world of digital CX, we cannot afford to simply be concerned with altering comms. We need to go back to an older concept of marketing, where we optimise product, pricing, and delivery, as well as comms. Only then can we deliver great customer experience.

This is possibly why we see so many digital initiatives failing to deliver real consumer value. Whilst digital transformation projects certainly have a purpose, their value is operational in nature. It reduces friction and complexity, whilst increasing transparency, efficiency and effectiveness. Good things to improve, but things which can be done without thinking about the consumer.

Designing Digital Experiences

DCXD on the other hand is about bringing that thinking to the public-facing touchpoints of an organisation. If you operate in an area where your consumers are trying to engage with brands via video, then you can do as much SEO as you like, but your audience is on YouTube and Twitch. If they’re heavily engaged on social media, you can try and push your brand as much as you like uphill against Facebook’s algorithm or pay Instagram “influencers” until the cows come home, but ultimately you’re going to have to do some advertising. Equally, if you’re just doing the traditionally digital things, and ignoring how the portfolio of media interact, your brand isn’t going to grow as effectively as it could.

DCXD about meeting people where they are. It’s about delivering small interactions over time, which turn into a fondness and appreciation for your organisation and brand.

We believe that this kind of work can only be done successfully through optimising both the digital interfaces people interact with, and the organisation’s way of working through digital technologies, to create better experiences when a customer interacts with the organisation.

In this guide, we’re going to look at each of these areas, with the aim of giving you a grounding in how to go about implementing effective DCXD. It’s not a rapid process - in our experience, most initiatives in this space take between two and five years. However, it’s a model which works, delivering increased long term ROMI and CLTV through building brand affinity over time, across all the digital touchpoints your organisation has with people in the real world.

We hope you find it useful.