Digital experience strategy: The core elements
For modern organizations, a digital experience strategy is about more than the technology that provides the foundation of consumer interactions.
Processes guide the ongoing success of your strategy and, of course, people who work together in your organization to bring both these processes and technological solutions to life.
If you’ve been tasked with building or modernizing the digital experience strategy at your company, start with this guide to learn about the core elements that make a strong strategy possible.
What is a digital experience strategy?
The digital experience describes all the interactions consumers have with your organization across its digital-based entities. Digital experiences include things like how consumers use your brand’s mobile application, how their chat with a customer support agent over Facebook plays out and how the buyer’s journey goes once they purchase a product or service from you online.
A digital experience strategy is how companies deliver this array of interactions. Today, seamless consumer experiences require a coordinated effort with the right people, processes and technology.
Why? Because these kinds of experiences are what help companies move the needle.
Why businesses must prioritize the digital customer experience
According to findings from Salesforce’s fourth "State of the Connected Customer" in the summer of 2020, COVID-19 accelerated online shopping and digital interactions between consumers and B2C as well as B2B companies.
Not only have these digital interactions become more prevalent, but the expectations around them have increased. The majority of consumers said they thought the experiences brands provide are as important as the products or services they sell. And the majority said brands need to develop new digital offerings and ways to deliver them to buyers.
Unfortunately, there is a gap right now between what consumers want and what those experiences deliver. While most customers want consistency across departments during their buying journey, over half said their experiences were disjointed. And while the majority said they wanted to be loyal to brands with great customer service, most didn’t get that great experience, reporting instead that the experience often felt fragmented and transactional.
If you want to turn this gap into an opportunity to blow past your competition, you’ll need to invest in the best people, technology and processes for a modern digital experience strategy.
Key elements of an impactful digital customer experience Strategy
While a great digital customer experience is in high demand, many organizations struggle to provide one that is effective across a growing number of digital channels and among increasing consumer demands.
By integrating the following key elements, you’ll be able to create a fully formed and highly impactful digital experience strategy.
This is an often overlooked segment of modern strategies. Here, we want to highlight the people who will help make your digital experience strategy a success.
Digital experience strategy leadership
Over 80% of organizations surveyed by NTT Ltd. for the 2020 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report agreed that a good customer experience is a competitive advantage. But just 35% had an executive overseeing this element of their business.
To build an effective experience that also gives you an edge over competitors, create a role entirely focused on and accountable for delivering an impactful digital experience strategy.
A cross-functional customer support team
While sales and marketing interact with consumers at various stages, customer support is the first stop people make when something isn’t quite working out — which makes this team a critical element in your overall digital experience strategy.
By hiring customer support workers with expertise across disciplines, your organization can provide a variety of viewpoints and skill sets to create a holistic digital experience that solves consumer concerns.
If you want to get creative when it comes to customer support, consider the “all-hands” approach. Have every person in the company handle a customer support task at least once. This can help them understand customers’ digital experiences and how each department might fine-tune them to better match the experiences customers want to have.
Modern and united IT
While IT teams don’t often interact with end consumers, the choices they make about your technology have a major impact on consumers’ digital experiences.
To use the tech that delivers modern digital experiences, IT teams must be united on an approach to technological architecture. This architecture is one that’s modular. Each feature is connected via an intermediary interface rather than built into the structure, making it possible for everything to shift along with trends and needs of your consumers.
Let’s talk more about the modern technology IT teams should consider when it comes to their contribution to the overall digital experience strategy.
The technology you choose for consumer interactions can make or break the digital experience. In this section, we’ll help you choose modern, flexible tools and build a platform where digital experience can thrive.
Customer data platform
A customer data platform collates information about your customers at a scale that would be difficult for employees alone to achieve. An easily integrated customer data platform is key to building robust consumer profiles, which help create the personalized digital experiences now in high demand. In fact, according to NTT Ltd.’s 2020 report, personalization is one of the top five factors shaping the customer experience industry, alongside elements such as artificial intelligence, automation and integration.
Product data tools
If you sell products, having a tool where product data — descriptions, images, quantity, location, etc. — lives and can be fed into your ecommerce software is vital in creating accurate, scalable and pleasant digital experiences.
Content personalization program
When considering content personalization programs, integration among your tech tools is important. Personalization programs bring together customer data, product data and other data, then apply artificial intelligence to create content relevant to the situation and the consumer.
Omnichannel customer support software
Customer support teams can be made more effective with software that helps them deliver a consistent experience. Software that tracks each customer’s interactions across digital channels enables your agents to deliver reliable service when the conversation goes from Twitter yesterday to email tomorrow and crosses over into a phone call a week from now.
An integration-forward platform to bring it all together
Mulesoft Research’s 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report found the average enterprise is using more than 800 applications at any given time, yet just 29% of them are integrated with anything else, and the average length of use for each is just four years.
Obviously, considerable time and money are being poured into digital tools not being used to their potential. Businesses must move to an integration-friendly platform where modern tools can be plugged in and updated, so you can keep up with operational and consumer developments.
This type of platform is often called a digital experience platform (DXP). While you can purchase a prepackaged DXP product, we recommend building your own by integrating your tools of choice with an agile, headless CMS. By building on a headless CMS, you’ll have easy access to all the content management capabilities, developer resources, security measures and customer support you need to run an enterprise digital experience strategy.
With the right people and technologies in place, here are some processes to amplify the success of your digital experience strategy.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
You don’t need to constantly create unique digital experiences, especially not at the beginning. Instead, look at interactions your consumers are already having and identify where you can digitize and improve them.
An example: Starbucks has been widely praised for its mobile app. The core functionality of that app isn’t anything groundbreaking. Rather, the Starbucks app digitized and simplified a part of its existing customer experience: ordering and paying for drinks.
Employ experience-centric hiring and training
Who you hire and how you train should reflect the culture you want to cultivate. If your focus is creating a modern digital experience that impresses consumers and pushes you to the forefront of the market, be sure your hiring and training process have that goal in mind.
Focus on consistency
Consistency in the digital experience is something modern consumers count on. However, consistent experiences don’t just happen, they must be meticulously created. Verticals across the business must be focused on and devoted to the mission of consistency. For example, IT and customer service teams must align regarding the tech that creates consistent customer interactions. At the same time, design and marketing teams must harmonize to create and disseminate a single, reliable brand image.
Commit to ongoing digital transformation
The idea that your digital experience strategy will never be finished might be hard to accept, but understanding it will help put you ahead of the pack.
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital transformation ends only when businesses end. To stay in business and excel at business, you must commit to updating the digital experience as trends change. The personalization platform you chose last year might not be relevant in 2025. The buyer’s journey as you’ve outlined it today might look different a year from now.
An important part of this commitment to transformation is employing people and technology as flexible and forward-looking as the digital experiences you hope to provide.
Learn more about the digital experience as a whole
The core people, process and technologies to consider are critical to building out or modernizing your digital experience strategy. But there’s more to learn. To dive deeper into the RIO of digital experience, download our ebook Going Beyond ROI with Return on Experience. And for more information about the DXP, read What Is a DXP? Understanding Digital Experience Platforms.