Digital Customer Experience: What It Is and Why It Matters

Updated: July 02, 2024


9 mins read

In today's fast-paced digital landscape, customer expectations are at an all-time high. At the same time, retailers have to do more with less while still maintaining an exceptional level of service. 

According to research from Adobe, 70% of customers think it’s essential for brands to provide a seamless experience at every touchpoint. To stand out from the competition and promote lasting customer loyalty, brands need to elevate the digital customer experience (DCX) while also ensuring a seamless integration between online and offline channels. 

By integrating DCX into a unified commerce approach, retailers can streamline their operational processes on the back end and deliver exceptional customer-facing service. In this guide, you’ll learn the critical elements of DCX, why it’s important, and the essential strategies for optimizing the entire customer journey online.

What is digital customer experience?

The digital customer experience (DCX) includes all the interactions a shopper has with a merchant across online channels — websites, mobile apps, social media, SMS, and email. Effective DCX involves a combination of personalized recommendations, consistent omnichannel experiences, a unified back end, and proactive customer service.

Digital customer experience

DCX is a subset of customer experience (CX), including online and offline engagements. While CX covers the entire spectrum of a consumer’s engagement with a brand, DCX focuses on only the digital aspects, highlighting the importance of integrated technology solutions to boost customer satisfaction. 

By optimizing digital touchpoints, retailers can strengthen customer loyalty, increase conversions, and maintain a competitive edge in eCommerce.

Essential elements of an excellent digital customer experience

Understanding the critical components of DCX is crucial for brands who want to improve their online journeys. These elements include:

Personalized product recommendations and communication

Personalization is crucial to the digital customer experience. A report from McKinsey & Company showed that 71% of consumers expect brands to deliver personalized experiences, and 76% get frustrated when they miss the mark. Tailoring communication and recommendations based on individual preferences and behaviors creates relevant and enjoyable experiences for each customer.  

McKinsey & Co.’s Next in Personalization Report
Source: McKinsey & Co.’s Next in Personalization Report

Frictionless omnichannel experience

Seamless navigation and consistency across devices and platforms allow shoppers to effortlessly switch between them without losing continuity. This experience is critical in today's multi-device world, where customers expect to continue interacting with a brand without friction, no matter where they are or where they go next.

Proactive vs. reactive customer service

The traditional approach to customer service is reactive — a customer initiates contact to report an issue or ask for help, and the business responds. The problem with this approach is that the customer has already experienced some level of frustration or inconvenience before the issue is resolved.

On the other hand, proactive customer service involves anticipating and addressing customer needs and issues before they become problems. This approach includes sending timely updates, performing proactive troubleshooting, or making preemptive outreach to address common concerns — leading to greater customer satisfaction.

Unified back end

A unified back end is the engine that drives all these other key elements. Integrating your digital channels and systems provides a cohesive and efficient experience for both you and your customers. It ensures that all your customer data and engagements are synchronized across platforms, enabling you to build a more personalized and streamlined journey.

Benefits of a superior digital customer experience

Implementing a robust DCX strategy offers numerous advantages, including:

  • Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty: Delivering a better digital customer experience makes it more likely that a customer will become a repeat purchaser.
  • Increased conversion rates and sales: Engaging and intuitive digital experiences encourage customers to complete purchases, boosting conversion rates and revenue.
  • Enhanced brand reputation and trust: Consistently positive digital interactions help promote positive reviews, ratings, and referrals, boosting brand trust and reputation through UGC and word of mouth.
  • Competitive advantage: Companies that excel in DCX stand out in the crowded marketplace, attracting and retaining more customers.

Strategies for enhancing digital customer experience

Businesses must adopt specific strategies to fully reap the benefits of DCX, including. using data analytics, implementing AI and automation, investing in proactive customer support, and continuously optimizing digital touchpoints. 

Let’s examine what’s involved in each one and provide examples of brands effectively leveraging them.

Leveraging data analytics for customer insights involves using various data sources to deeply understand customer behaviors, preferences, and trends. By analyzing data such as purchase history, website interactions, and feedback, businesses can develop insights that inform decision-making and enable more personalized and effective customer interactions. 

Strategy in action: SmartBuyGlasses

Designer eyewear brand SmartBuyGlasses used AfterShip Tracking’s powerful data analytics to gauge its delivery performance and glean crucial insights for refining its carrier strategies. By measuring which lanes or service types suffered from high transit times and exception rates, the brand could refine its strategies accordingly to enhance customer satisfaction. 

As a result of this implementation, the brand saw a 70% improvement in their NPS score and a 28% reduction in average transit time.

Implementing AI and automation for personalized experiences involves harnessing advanced technologies to deliver tailored content and automate routine tasks. AI-powered systems can analyze vast amounts of data in real-time to create personalized recommendations, communications, and offers for each customer. 

Automation streamlines processes, enhances efficiency, and frees up human resources to focus on higher-impact tasks, resulting in a better digital customer experience and a less-taxed support team.

Strategy in action: Vivino

After integrating with AfterShip Tracking for centralized, automated order tracking and post-purchase communication, online wine marketplace Vivino saw the opt-in rate for SMS notifications increase by 30%, allowing customers to receive real-time delivery notifications on the go. 

Further, the brand saw a 50% reduction in Vivino's WISMO tickets after the activation of automated delivery updates, reducing customer anxiety about their order status with an estimated delivery date of arrival.

Investing in training and technologies for proactive support involves equipping customer service teams with the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to proactively anticipate and address customer needs. 

This strategy includes providing ongoing training in customer service best practices, implementing advanced support systems that enable proactive outreach, and leveraging data analytics to identify potential issues before they arise. Proactive support helps businesses resolve issues more quickly, prevent escalations, and build stronger customer relationships.

Startegy in action: Pura Vida

Handmade jewelry brand Pura Vida takes a proactive support approach to their customer interactions throughout the post-purchase experience. The brand implemented AfterShip Tracking to give their customers the transparency they needed via SMS. This integration allowed them to see carrier delivery estimate data and use that information to adjust their messaging. 

For example, if they saw that FedEx was averaging seven days to deliver packages instead of the previous 3-day estimate, they could adjust their messaging on their sales pages and post-purchase notifications to provide customers with more accurate shipping estimates.

Continuously optimizing digital touchpoints is about regularly updating and refining digital channels to keep pace with evolving customer expectations and technological advancements. This tactic includes optimizing website design and functionality, improving mobile app performance, creating deeper segments for tailored communication, and enhancing social media engagement strategies. 

By staying agile and responsive to changing customer preferences and industry trends, businesses can ensure that their digital touchpoints remain effective and engaging, driving positive customer experiences and loyalty.

Challenges and considerations in digital customer experience

Despite its benefits, implementing a successful DCX strategy comes with its challenges, including:

  • Balancing automation with the human touch: While automation can effectively handle some inquiries (like WISMO tickets), human interaction remains crucial for complex issues. In a recent AfterShip webinar, Justin Holmes, CMO at CX platform Gorgias, said, “Humans are best at creating really good connections with other humans, and we think that tier-one support requests can be taken care of by automation.”
  • Ensuring consistency across channels: A unified back end simplifies the process of maintaining consistency in messaging and service quality across different digital channels. 
  • Adapting to evolving customer preferences and technologies: Investing in technology solutions that continuously iterate and release new features ensures that businesses stay ahead of customer expectations. 

To remain competitive and meet the high expectations of today’s shoppers, businesses must prioritize DCX as part of their unified commerce strategies. By leveraging data, implementing advanced technologies, and balancing automation and the human touch, companies can create exceptional digital experiences that drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Learn how AfterShip’s Lifecycle Order Tracking is helping merchants improve the post-purchase digital customer experience by ensuring timely updates, proactive service, and seamless interactions across all digital channels. 

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