24 Mar Digital Engagement Driving Customer Experience Across Industries
Digital engagement and the tools that enable it are a set of killer apps that are not yet fully understood in this age of consumer internet. While the habits of checking for products, services businesses online before visiting stores and making purchases seems fully formed within consumer behaviour, these new trends require a response from across industries that amplifies the power of customers’ experiences through digital engagement.
According to Accenture, there are already digitally contestable markets in personal health, payments, shopping, education, manufacturing and travel. Digital has made healthcare cheaper, payment easier, shopping more personal, education more accessible, manufacturing more flexible and travel more connected. With these massive transitions in mind, 71% of C-Level respondents to Accenture’s commensurate survey on digital list at least one digital capability as critical to their growth, whether it’s data analytics, mobile computing, social media, or eCommerce. Amidst all these strategies, digital engagement can contribute in multifaceted ways that crystallize the fundamental transitions almost every industry is experiencing, providing a central platform on which customer experience for all industries can improve.
Digital Engagement defined by Apps and Interactions
Digital Engagement is fundamentally founded on the tools used to create connections between consumers and their businesses. Online Scheduling, Click-to-Call, Live Chat, Online Forms and more are in-demand and can go to great lengths to improve a business’ reputation. For instance, 61% of consumers expect or appreciate Online Scheduling from their local businesses, while 90% of consumers find live chat helpful and nearly two thirds feel it encourages them to return to a website.
However, the power of these engagement tools isn’t limited to consumer products and services. B2B clients may be using the internet for their purchasing seemingly far more prodigiously than their consumer counterparts. A study by Acquity Group shows that 94% of business buyers do some form of online research, while 77% use Google Search, 84.3% check business websites, 34% visit 3rd party websites and 41% read user reviews. In light of Accenture’s prediction that there are a variety of industries which can capitalize from improving customer experience, digital engagement is evidently a foundation-stone as businesses build up new ways to interact with customers – whoever they may be.
Benefits of Digital not lost on leadership, but opportunity lies in combined approach
Though the specific relationship between apps and digital engagement may not be clear all the way to the top, leaders within businesses recognize the value digital technology investments have to their business, particularly in customer experience. A recent Global Annual CEO Survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers showed that a majority of CEOs rate operational efficiency (88%), data and analytics (84%) and customer experience (77%) as their highest performing digital investments, perhaps belying the power of singular digital engagement tools to have benefits in all those areas at once.
For instance, a tool like Online Scheduling not only improves a customer experience, streamlining the booking process and automating notifications to clients. It also presents the opportunity to collect information on client interactions and save time for organizations, while presenting a host of other benefits for operational efficiency. It’s no surprise then that in the aforementioned study, mobile technologies for customer engagement were identified as strategically important by 81% of CEOs. As the leading category for strategic growth, digital engagement tools also need to be mobile-responsive to ensure that businesses get the most out of new initiatives.
Multichannel Engagement the foundation of engagement
Part of the strength that comes with engagement is based on the very idea that digital technology allows for multiple tools to create connections between businesses and their customers. When customers are only able to access their brands by a single means, that shows that the brand wants to engage customers without respect for the differences between them. When brands use multiple channels to engage customers, even if they don’t use every single one possible, it shows customers that they’re willing to engage them as individuals, according to the terms they prefer.
According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, “customers are demanding that interactions center on what they need.” Instead of reluctant services, consumers want multichannel access, whether via phone or online, and through the various possible channels that the internet enables. Additionally, where “negative customer experiences used to be shared with a few people via word of mouth… (t)oday there are no limits to the circulation of customer reviews and commentary.” In this environment, failing to engage customers digitally in ways they prefer could have greater consequences than the opportunity cost that comes with not gaining the benefits of digital engagement.
Customer Experience presents structural shift with compounding returns
Always at the forefront of customer experience, the luxury goods industry realized 50% more sales online between 2013 and 2014. According to McKinsey, digital solutions have become so prevalent that they have become “the engine of the luxury shopping experience”. 75% of luxury shoppers own multiple digital devices, and are demanding “seamless, digitally enabled, multi-channel experience(s)”. This foreshadows sophisticated demands and behaviours that will become common among every type of customer, so large brands need to implement the right digital engagement tools to get ahead of this trend.
For this reason, it may make sense that Accenture advises its clients to keep track of “ratchet effects” that come with digital engagement – the fact that once customers build a habit of reaching out with digital tools, it becomes almost impossible for them to stop. In light of customer demand, second-order benefits and ease of implementation, brands and enterprises shouldn’t hesitate to implement digital engagement tools like Online Scheduling, Click-to-Call, Live Chat and more, taking the lead on what their customers are looking for instead of being forced to catch up.