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“Digital experience” is a unique term that has become extremely popular in recent years. It is short for digital customer experience (CX), but it goes beyond interaction and support. It encompasses both strategy and design around digital assets like portals, apps, platforms, systems, interfaces, point of sales, and overall communication channels with our audiences.
A business provides a digital experience through its portals, apps and online channels. For example: you may have a great experience ordering food online from the web portal of your favorite restaurant, and one week later, have a very frustrating experience when doing the same with their app. It’s the same company offering the same service —delivering food through an online service— but what you feel and live in each touchpoint is completely different. It feels like the brand is letting you down, and with it your trust is diminished as well.
“Fragmented” means broken
When your digital experiences contrast with each other, it is not a good thing. This phenomenon is known as a “fragmented” digital experience. They are many reasons why a business may see something like this in their everyday functions. It could be because there was great pressure in launching a project to meet a deadline, so there were no QA regarding its connection to an existing portal. It could be because it was developed by different teams with different frameworks or standards (think about internal teams and external agencies). Another case would be when one department or one location creates a new digital asset with an independent budget, without taking into account the rest of the existing developments of the company.
What a “fragmented” digital experience says about a business is that their web development projects lack an integral vision or a strategy. Each portal, app or project is not connected to the other, nor do they have the same approach as per the interaction with users. There might not be a bigger plan or specific answers on how these assets are going to fit and become a greater digital ecosystem together. Yes, the touchpoints are there, but they are misaligned.
The poison of “fragmented” digital experiences
Can a “fragmented” digital experience affect a business in terms of sales or loyalty? Surely it can. In times like these, when situations like the COVID-19 pandemic has increased remote work and overall online business activity, the way we interact with businesses on the Internet is more important than ever. We have talked about how online experiences are the main vehicles in which we communicate and share the value of a brand: price, quality, agility or whatever our promise to the customer is. What a customer and client experience online with a business is directly associated with the perception of value of the brand. If our app experience is poor, a customer will associate that negative value to the business brand, hurting it in a significant manner.
Having a “fragmented” digital experience speaks to our customers about a lack of consistency, lack of formality, and carelessness of maintaining digital channels. In that moment, when you “feel” the gap between using an app and the customer experience in a portal or in a physical store, the illusion of the brand promise breaks. The bubble of perfection bursts. Suddenly, customers know there’s something missing or broken.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for sure, but it’s true. A customer or a client expects to be treated the same way every time it deals with a company: it doesn’t matter if it’s a call center or a support chat, you are dealing with a business. Quality and consistency should be kept at all times. And living in a completely, seamless, modern ecosystem of web applications —in the way the Tech Giants like Amazon or Apple do— is the biggest of the branding statements for your business.
Avoiding “fragmented” digital experiences and building for the long term
With all this in mind, how can we make sure our digital experiences are aligned? What should we avoid the next time we are planning on expanding the realm of digital touchpoints for our customers and clients? Here are three misconceptions around creating digital experiences, that might help you to see ahead of creating “fragmented” environments.
Funding and supporting big new projects as a unique shot to making a digital presence better. “Hero projects” —single projects that are expected to rescue a company just by themselves— can easily be misaligned. In digital ecosystems, there’s no need for an “Iron Man” style of app, that does its thing well and only by itself with no help. Communication, collaboration and integration are the real heroes in all things related to online business and digital transformation. What online customers and clients expect is more in line with creating the Avengers of digital assets: a series of well-crafted and designed touchpoints that can work together to deliver something bigger.
Creating digital experiences for new devices and forgetting to reengineer existing platforms. Something that we hear very often is that having a new app out is going to change everything. This is far from truth. As long as your existing portals (including “legacy”), landing pages, and digital channels aren’t as good as your latest app, your customer experience is still going to be an issue. Having an app is just a channel that may be convenient for a certain group of users; the rest are going to trying to reach your business in whatever manner they see fit. This is one of the reasons we believe in creating mature digital ecosystems — we make sure that every single touchpoint and potential channel for sales and leads is up to the quality required to provide complete satisfaction.
Focusing on digital experiences that only favor end-users and beneficiaries. When we talk about creating integrated digital experiences, we mean providing and building digital assets and tools for both above and below the visibility line of service design. We talked about this before: you may be offering top notch technology in your retail online store, but behind the curtains, you could be also providing a poorly designed B2B commerce portal for your suppliers. Having focused digital experiences for employees, suppliers, buyers and business partners is as essential as making your customer happy. We might even argue it’s more important: how can an employee transmit the importance of your brand if they themselves are not experiencing it with outdated technology, disorganized information and confusion? Your internal audiences are your everyday ambassadors.
Next time you stumble into one of these issues, make sure you are prepared to identify potential risks. We know for sure that your business or company is going to keep building new digital projects — just make sure you do it in a meaningful, relevant and orderly way. Don’t leave any asset behind. Don’t mistreat any audience. Don’t neglect any channel. Believe in the power of strategic planning, brand consistency, and well-ordered growth. That’s what will really drive your digital experiences home.