With the increasing emergence of digitisation and globalisation, managing the customer experience has become harder and more detailed than ever before. The rise in digital channels has resulted in the number of consumer touchpoints growing in volume and complexity. With the emergence of cross-device platforms, including desktop, tablet and mobile, the need to understand the customer journey and develop the user experience on these devices is of paramount importance.

Champions of customer experience software have often emphasised the need to identify the touchpoints to which a consumer engages with a brand. Touchpoints have been defined as “the many critical moments when customers interact with the organisation and its offerings in the run up to the point of purchase”. With the growth of our digital world, many of these touchpoints are no longer in a traditional setting, such as a retail outlet or store, but are found online.

Fifth generation internet users

The development of the internet has resulted in many mundane appliances being transformed into the next future device of choice. For example, many of us would never have considered that the table that we sit at would eventually become a device on which you can search the internet, engage in music or control your home automation. Whilst this is an extreme example, modern coffee shops across many parts of the world have begun introducing such devices.

The emergence of these new devices has caused digital futurists to consider the manner in which the organisation’s website might perform across multi-channel devices. Whilst tracking software to manage the customer experience has also developed at a fast pace, the future of digitisation has meant that setting up and managing the customer journey has also become harder. In other words, the number of touchpoints across digital channels has increased exponentially.

More touchpoints, more complexity

The problem that many organisations have with understanding digital touchpoints relates to identifying the specific point at which engagement occurs. These can be difficult to spot when, for example, you consider the breadth of channels that can refer traffic to a specific landing page on a website. At the heart of this challenge is the ‘siloed’ nature to which organisations have typically measured the customer experience through service delivery. In traditional customer experience models, call centre scripts and surveys might have been used to measure engagement at any given point. Within the context of digital service, different cultures and approaches can have an impact on conversion. When you consider the impact of the web, it can be even harder to manage the customer experience and understand what the consumer wants and needs at any particular point within the user journey.

The solution to managing the various digital touchpoints, isn’t to replace the way in which the touchpoints are managed, but rather to embrace the different channels that are used by the consumer. The power of mobile and in particular, the revolution of mobile applications in the retail space, has resulted in engagement increasing and customer feedback touchpoints increasing in parallel. Mobile touchpoints, in particular apps using “push” technology have been able to use the location settings of a prospect’s device to deliver virtual instore promotions to consumers as they walk past the store.

The challenge for the digital marketer and user experience professional is to measure these touchpoints – and to understand that the complexity around multi-channel user experiences is dynamic and constantly changing. Organisations need to embed customer journeys into their operating models by identifying the journeys in which the organisation excels, and building cross-functional processes to redesign and support the customer journeys on digital platforms.

Omni-channel management of the customer experience

In my time consulting on digital marketing and business growth in the European market, I’ve found that organisations that are able to manage their entire customer experience across multiple channels reap enormous rewards. These include enhanced customer satisfaction, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction. Organisations typically tend to discover more-effective ways to collaborate across departmental functions and across management structures.

The emergence of digital channels through the web has brought about a significant number of touchpoints which organisations have to manage effectively. Over the last ten years we have seen a paradigm shift away from the traditional static website towards digital assets that are dynamic and complex in nature. Google’s algorithm changes propelled the mobile internet revolution and resulted in SMEs and bluechips understanding how to use mobile technology in both a B2B and B2C context.

Understanding current digital trends and performance

Once an organisation has identified its key customer journeys, it must examine each one in detail in order to understand why customers behave in certain ways. In other words, what is the cause of the behaviours and current performance? Whilst this process often involves a significant level of analytics and research, the combined output will often result in better performance at key digital touchpoints on the customer journey. Consider, for example the customer journey that results in an abandoned shopping cart. What elements of the site’s interaction resulted in the order not completing? What methods can be used in remarketing to ensure the successful completion of the shopping cart? All of these factors need to be considered when we look at the future of digitisation.

Defining the user journeys that are important online and deciding where to begin the analysis requires both top-down evaluations, together with quantitative, judgement-driven feedback. This must be combined with data-driven analysis and a bottom-up approach. Using statistics from goal and event conversions within Google Analytics together with dynamic heat maps is key. Many different types of customer experience software is available to aid marketers with this. Whist this may seem a lengthy way to measure the customer experience journey, it is my belief that it is the only way to deliver true measurable change.

Brand fans in a digital context

Creating a digital customer experience is one of the best ways to achieve sustainable growth online, especially across verticals where there is stagnation or decline.  Customer experiences delivered online can turn dissatisfaction or indifference into delight which creates long-term brand fans. This will result in an increase of advocates who are both vocal online and offline and who have been proven to produce up to 8 times their own lifetime value in a B2B context. The ROI in a B2C context is even greater. Sustained revenue growth is the reward for such firms that can master the digital customer journey.