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Exploring the Digital Customer Experience
Have you ever come across the term “digital customer experience?” At first glance, it might sound like online retail. A digital customer is experiencing something, right? But what? Why am I asking you any of this? I can’t hear you. You’re reading this after I’ve already written it so I don’t know what I’m asking other than I try to be funnier than I actually am! Dumb jokes aside, it’s best to break up the term into separate words to better understand it.
- Digital - This can mean many, many things, but in our case for discussion, it relates to the creation of data and the usage of computer technology to utilize it. For the sake of simplicity here, think about the word “virtual” as well when you see digital in this article. It’ll help bring some things into context. Although not directly connected in terms of definitions and semantics, we tend to connect these words to the world wide web (the boring way of saying internet) when speaking about them. And I don’t mean that joke of a film in the 1990s “The Kids Guide to the Internet” where everything is absolutely radical, my dude. I mean the fiber optically connected world that allows us to evolve technologically as a society.
- Customer - A customer, consumer, etc., is someone or something purchasing and/or obtaining goods and/or services. For this discussion, let’s also include the concept of potential customers – those browsing who may look to indulge themselves in whatever you’re selling. When you see this word, you may either think about what supports businesses or have PTSD from when you worked with the public. Either way, we can’t deny that money makes the world go-'round and it keeps our economy and businesses going. No getting out of this one.
- Experience - To simplify this one, it’s directly observing or participating in something. It doesn’t matter what; it could be a parade, a store opening, a party, etc. Why does the experience matter? Well, it can leave a customer with a good or bad taste in their mouth when it comes to a subject. It can create happy memories, or it can make you cringe at the thought of it. Some companies argue that experience does not matter to the customer (you, my friend) since they desire to receive their product in the fastest and most convenient way possible. But I would argue that experience truly does matter. Think of it in terms of fast food: we all like Chick-fil-A, right? Well, hone in on what you like about them. The experience, no matter how short it may be, gives you friendly customer service from lively workers and that’s what sticks out in your mind. That’s one of the things you think about when you hear their name, even if not consciously. Compare that to a certain other fast-food chain, that is one of the most popular in the world and I cannot name it in fear of libel. It’s generally not the most pleasant experience. It comes fast and convenient but there are times when the service may be so irritating that it ruins the entire thing. That’s the difference. Your order came fast, and it was convenient, but why bother if everything else was awful?
All in all, the term digital customer experience may seem like it means one thing when looking at it initially, but it means something similar but more important. When these three words are combined, you find out how critical it is to the customer journey – considering that it is the evolution of said journey. In the past, we used to connect with our audience via paper advertisements posted on walls, and then commercials on TV. It was crude but it was all there was, and it worked. But life isn’t the same anymore and things tend to change. Environmental issues beg the question of why we use so much paper and TV doesn’t care about cable as much anymore with the continual rise of streaming content. As society becomes more technologically advanced and furthers its methods, so does the way it communicates with each other including the relationship between businesses and consumers. It’s simply the way it’s supposed to be.
Now that you have an idea of what the digital customer experience is, let’s delve into more details on it and how it works. Simply put, it is how a person interacts with a brand online. I’ve intentionally left that vague because A) I want to make you think about what it means, and B) it encompasses so much that I’m too lazy to type it all out. Is it via social media (remember when MySpace tried to make a comeback?)? Is it via an advertisement on a website you frequently visit? Is it just via apps on your phone? No, it’s all of the above and more! Also, the Google Play Store doesn’t get enough love.
Any digital experience you have is direct, fast, complex, well thought out, and even frequent
depending on your brand.
And yes, I do mean YOUR brand. It’s set up so you have an emotional connection with a brand so you can safely call it your own, that's called Brand Intimacy. This is all done on purpose – the goal is to connect you to said brand and that’s all done via the fiber optically connected world we call the internet. Now, I don’t mean to scare you and make you paranoid and think the government is following everything you do (no comment on that one). That was not my intention!
The digital customer experience is a wonderful thing and frankly makes our lives easier and more interesting.
But there’s a process and it helps to know how it works. I wouldn’t say all of this is something new, more so we’ve paid more attention to it and studied it more in the past few decades as everything evolves, including myself. Daphne herself knows the ungodly amount of time I’ve spent on the internet all my life and she’s not proud of it, but that’s how I connect with her and the PRSONAS™ brand.
Allow me to clarify something if you’ve been wondering why I go back and forth between the terms digital customer experience and digital experience. The former is the digital customer journey – the whole thing compassing how, when, and how frequently you connect with a brand. The latter is merely ONE interaction. For visual imagery, look at it like this: the digital customer journey is a strong rope made out of tons of little strands called digital experiences. When combined, it makes for a solid thing that you just can’t get enough of. You might be able to break those cuffs, but are you able to break the mighty rope of the digital customer experience?
With the line between our digital and our physical world overlapping more and more each passing day (don’t worry, our realms are not actually merging), it’s important to look at what your role is in the digital customer experience. If you’re playing the role of the consumer here, keep on keeping on. Whatever you’re doing is working. But if you’re in the role of business like we at PRSONAS™ are, you’ve got quite the job to do. There are many responsibilities such as researching and understanding what you as the consumer want, having and maintaining a friendly user interface, appealing designs that attract others, being able to communicate with every individual (no favoritism towards anyone – that's not how you conduct business) who wants to see what you’re all about or is interested in your product, etc., but most importantly, you have to be willing to receive feedback...even if it’s bad. You don’t improve by discriminating against customers or ignoring what they’re saying. Instead, you have to put yourself in their shoes. That’s how you grow as a business. And who knows? You may just learn something.
At PRSONAS™, we do our best every day to improve ourselves personally and as a business so we can bring you the best. That may sound like a generic statement but talk to any employee you find here and you’ll find we’re on the same page. To be the best, you have to learn from the people (as in you, our guests) who support you the most even when it’s hard. We welcome all feedback and discussion with all individuals, no matter if you’re a customer or not. If you share an interest in technology or want to discuss the ethics of AI in the workplace, we’re here for you. That’s how you create a memorable experience. I guess you could say we practice active learning ourselves.
In the end, the digital customer experience is more important and vaster than you might think. Gone are the days of standard retail and customer service (please don’t talk to my manager, I’m already in hot water as I write this), and here is the digital world; here to stay whether we like it or not.
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