Four Steps to Improve Your Digital Customer Experience


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As the digital era continues to evolve, machine learning, artificial intelligence, IoT and analytics, among others, are all great components to run an even more successful company. When thinking about what truly makes a company prosper though, there is a clear and strong focus on customer loyalty and experience. Many businesses are on the hunt for a one-size-fits-all approach to a successful digital customer experience program. But when businesses truly know their customers – they also know that everyone has a unique path to purchase, distinctive buying patterns, channel preferences and preferred engagement stages, among others. The first step to building a better digital customer experience is understanding your customers’ backgrounds and journeys to create a plan that fits the mold of what they need and want.

Understanding this journey is critical to improve and personalize future engagements, solidifying a customer relationship. Fortunately, there are four steps that can serve as guidelines to improve the digital customer experience.

Bring what your customers need to them directly
Rather than prompting customers to navigate through complicated sites, businesses should deliver what customers are looking for straight to them. Potential buyers want direct, digital access, one with more transparency and a streamlined path to purchase. Rapid and effective personalization of an offering is key, reflecting all the information you have about the customer, such as past purchases, search behavior and usage patterns. In the end, each customer’s needs should be addressed and served individually. Once a customer has made a purchase decision, it’s crucial that there are no barriers keeping them from completing their purchase.

This means making the check-out experience – the actual path to purchase – as hassle- and doubt-free as possible. You need multiple payment options, transparent and clear terms and conditions, and well-defined expectation management for what will happen next. To avoid any distraction, be confident that the path to purchase is simple and clear, without any opportunities for customers to disengage.

Change management to support internal infrastructure
Anytime a company is implementing a new protocol – whether it’s a new way for customers to buy online or new procedures for engaging with customers – how a business handles this change internally will be key to driving success. Internal departments cannot work in silos in this digital age – if they do, there may be chaos and frustration stirred from the bottom-up. Internal barriers can prevent employees from understanding the customer journey and affect their ability to deliver a unified, personalized digital customer experience.

Internal infrastructure (i.e., processes and policies) is a large part of what drives digital experience for customers. Before taking on a digital customer experience plan, you should assess internal infrastructures and possible outcomes in terms of resulting experiences for customers with your immediate teams, as well as across departments and offices. Breaking down the way the organization works internally will be extremely beneficial, ensuring alignment on any new digital project. Don’t give in to the temptation to design processes around internal department priorities that may involve complex and long-term workflows. Your focus should only be on addressing immediate and concrete customer requirements.

Mastering secure customer data management
As the digital landscape grows, securely managing customer data is critical to getting digital right. This includes understanding customers’ paths to purchase, buying patterns, customer service inquiries and preferred engagement platforms, among other influences.

Whether your organization serves 200 customers or over two million customers, all lines of business must successfully understand what each of those individuals want and need. By capturing the data behind each individual sale and streamlining it into customer data sets, you will have the foundation for an integrated and tailored digital experience.

Managing customer data also means keeping it safe and secure. By providing transparency on how information is being stored and protected, you win customer trust and retain business. Be proactive by showing customers the security measures available to keep their data safe – because there’s nothing worse for a consumer than seeing a cyber breach and wondering if personal information has been compromised.

Seamlessly connecting customers and partners
Lastly, companies should build digital bridges to seamlessly connect customers with partner offerings in the business ecosystem. If a customer goes to your website to buy a partner application, purchasing that partner product must be as simple as buying one of your company’s own products. This unified experience between your core business and partners builds trust in customers, while improving their overall digital experience. Never underestimate the power of the partner ecosystem and co-selling in terms of value to the customer. It results in a more unified and complete offering for the customer, as you are able to provide a full solution rather than a single piece that may lack other components needed to resolve a challenge completely.

Digital transformation journeys are never complete, as we – the digital leads for our organizations – will always strive for a better-than-before customer experience. Through these guidelines, businesses are empowering connected, omnichannel commerce that leads to long-term, loyal digital customers.

Bertram Schulte
I serve as the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at SAP, running the digital business and helping provide customers one seamless, digital experience. Since May 2017, I have been overseeing digital customer strategy for SAP across sales, customer success, support and marketing. From July 2014 until April 2017, I served as SAP’s senior vice president and chief of staff, for the Products & Innovation Executive Board Office. In this role, I was part of the Global Leadership Team and helped define the technology, product and investment strategy for SAP, supporting bid deals and customer escalations.


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