Insights|Get Closer to Your Customers with Digital Customer Experiences 

Get Closer to Your Customers with Digital Customer Experiences 

Round-the-clock support, customer self-service, chatbots, live chat and a website designed to maximize the user experience. These services, channels and features are now fundamental elements of delivering a positive digital customer experience, even when a brand isn’t digital by default.

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by Sitel staff May 26, 2021 - 4 MIN READ

Round-the-clock support, customer self-service, chatbots, live chat and a website designed to maximize the user experience. These services, channels and features are now fundamental elements of delivering a positive digital customer experience, even when a brand isn’t digital by default.  

Digital Customer Experiences Bring You Closer  

A division is growing between brands who can and cannot meet their customers’ needs in digital channels. Post-COVID-19, digital customer experience (CX) delivery is now an organization’s strongest differentiator.  

This is a major finding of our latest whitepaper, Driving Customer Loyalty: Perception, Effort and Action, which is based on a proprietary study of 2,000 consumers (1,000 U.S. and 1,000 U.K. respondents).  

Digital Dictates Customer Expectations  

There is a clear link between getting digital customer experience right and building brand and customer loyalty. When asked about the elements of customer service that equate to a positive CX and, therefore, make one brand more attractive than another, 51% of respondents cited an easy-to-use website and 40% highlighted providing live chat as a priority.  

Conversely, when asked to identify issues that led them to considering terminating an existing brand relationship, 21% pointed to slow and inefficient service, 8% cited a lack of 24/7 support and 7% said a frustrating web experience.  

Since 2018, though a series of in-depth studies, reports and whitepapers, Sitel Group® has tracked and analyzed customer trends. By identifying and collating changing behaviors and exploring how different approaches to customer experience delivery positively and negatively affect customer loyalty. We have built a picture of the customer experience elements that consumers value most.  

Between 2018 and the start of 2020, a 50/50 split between consumers that preferred digital to in-person CX emerged as a persistent trend. 

The Pandemic and Customer Preferences  

However, in May 2020, just weeks after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic – forcing governments around the world to introduce social distancing, lockdowns, movement restrictions and even the temporary shuttering of non-essential business sectors – everything changed.  

Three quarters (76%) of consumers were forced to purchase items on digital channels during the pandemic that they otherwise would have bought in person. But, in changing their typical behavior, consumers discovered the customer experience benefits of digital channels – and online purchasing – and 57% of first-time digital consumers said they intended to stay digital post pandemic.  

And 12 months later, the elements of customer experience associated with digital delivery – speed, convenience, 24/7 availability, self-service, online chat and messaging services – have become the yardstick against which all CX is measured.  

This is evidenced by responses when we asked consumers what brands can do to win their custom and eventually their loyalty. Over half (51%) said organizations needed to prioritize an easy-to-use website, while 47% said brands needed to integrate live chat and 44% pointed to features and services that improve automation and self-service, such as chatbots.  

But, building a best-in-class customer experience is not simply about adding digital capabilities to an existing approach.  

Knowledge Is Still Power 

Even as digital experiences continue to shape consumer expectations, some elements of the preferred customer experience remain constant. The most important aspect of a positive, loyalty-building customer experience is friendly, knowledgeable staff (cited by 69% of respondents) – whether an interaction is online, on the phone or in-store.  

But not only should brands focus on their digital customer experiences, they should also prioritize consistency. A consistent customer experience means through every touchpoint with a customer, the brand has the opportunity to build trust and solidify what they stand for. The level of detail, understanding and assistance available to those who reach for the phone should be replicated across email, live chat, messaging, self-service, chatbots and – once COVID-19 is behind us – in-person experiences.  

Why Omnichannel is Expected  

Digital customer experience is a crucial element of an overarching omnichannel approach to CX delivery. This is how to ensure that information captured in one channel is available in another. Further, as customers move from self-service to the phone or from a chatbot to live chat, the conversation, not the channel, is king. Customers don’t want to have to repeat themselves as their issue or query is escalated.  

Never before have consumers been more focused on time as a measure of service. This need for efficiency is why features such as live chat – which enables a customer to engage in the moment – and messaging – where a consumer can ask a question or request guidance, then move on to the next task of the day, rather than waiting on hold – are gaining so much traction.  

In fact, nine out of 10 consumers we questioned agreed that an organization’s ability to deliver a positive customer experience influences their decision-making process. For 58% of all customers – including 71% of Gen X and 63% of millennials – customer experience is a deciding factor when pledging brand loyalty.  

Likewise, 97% of U.S. and U.K. consumers believe brands are working hard to deliver a positive CX. However, only 43% believe this hard work is translating into a tangible difference.  

Therefore, embracing digital as part of a holistic omnichannel CX approach is key to filling this gap.  

To learn more about the relationship between customer experience and brand loyalty and to find out what sets some brands apart from their competition, download the whitepaper here.

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