Is your digital experience working for you or against you?

A brand’s digital experience can evoke powerful feelings amongst its customers – but what are the actual consequences of not getting it right? 

By Graeme Riley.

When people talk about their digital experiences, most recount at least one anecdote of a disappointing, if not frustrating experience with a brand – and they can get quite emotional about it. A brand’s digital experience can evoke powerful feelings amongst its customers – but what are the actual consequences of not getting it right? 

The digital experience is dominating the interactions New Zealanders have with brands. From discovery through purchase, delivery and support of a product or service, the digital experience has become ubiquitous across all industries. Yet, many brands are not getting it right, failing to deliver experiences that satisfy, let alone delight their customers. 

In SAP’s 2016 New Zealand Digital Experience Report we uncovered a distinct gap between the digital experiences that delight consumers and those that New Zealand brands are delivering. What’s more, our research shows that poor digital experiences provided by some of New Zealand’s largest and best-known brands are closely tied to the dramatic loss of customer loyalty and advocacy. 

At the core of the report are the attributes that make up a delightful digital experience – 14 in total, which range from the functional (such as available anytime on my terms) to the emotional (such as excites and engages me). New Zealand consumers were first asked to rate how important these attributes were to them as part of receiving a delightful digital experience. The attribute safe and secure ranked highest, followed by available anytime on my terms; cohesive, integrated and simple; and fits in with my life and is effortless. Consumers ranked predicts my preferences and makes me feel unique as least important.

Consumers were then asked to rate brands’ performance in delivering on these digital-experience attributes. The findings of the report are sobering. 

Customer loyalty and advocacy
Over a third of consumers (37 per cent) were unsatisfied with the digital experiences delivered by New Zealand brands. In contrast, only 31 per cent of respondents were delighted. From an index of 38 large brands, just 13 had more delighted than unsatisfied customers. There is a gap.

The gap matters. We also found that customers delighted with a digital experience are over four and a half times more likely to remain loyal to a brand than those who are unsatisfied, while just 17 per cent of consumers who are unsatisfied with the digital experience would remain loyal. Relating this to the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a measurement of customer satisfaction and advocacy, customers delighted with the digital experience delivered an NPS of an impressive 69 per cent compared to a score of -54 per cent from those who were unsatisfied.

Personalisation and the virtuous circle
Consumers who are delighted with the digital experience are also more willing to provide personal information to brands; however, the brand needs to continuously apply this data to create an improved and more personalised digital experience to sustain that delight. 

Delighted customers are more willing to provide buying preferences, social media usage, web browsing history and even health records. Using this data, brands can better understand user behaviour and preferences to provide a superior digital experience and increase the conversion of loyal customers. 

To improve their digital experience scores, brands must do more than deliver on the basics; they have to invest in their digital strategy and forge a deeper emotional connection with their customers. Once they do this, they will have the power to provide the experiences that surpass customer expectations, resulting in a positive impact on business outcomes. 

So what are some of the steps an organisation can take to improve their digital experience? 

Tailoring the experience 
The results of the report and our initial discussions with the top-performing large brands suggest common traits among the organisations getting digital right.

At a high level, these brands share an approach by which they unite their people and processes onto a single system to deliver on their customers’ relentlessly increasing demands. “Digital” does not sit in any single team, a digital-first model is the responsibility of all functions in the organisation aligned to deliver the best possible experience for their customers.

As assessments of digital experience attributes in this report show customers demand simple, secure, seamless and personalised experiences – anytime, anywhere and on any device. To deliver on these demands, organisations need a system that can deliver this experience across marketing, sales, service and commerce, while applying analytics to sense and respond to customer needs in real time. Brands cannot afford to continue to take a one-size-fits-all approach to digital. It is now more important than ever to constantly evaluate the experience being offered, how it impacts business results, and then tailor the experience to exceed customers’ expectations. 

How brands across industries respond to this challenge will ultimately dictate their success or even survival. To engage your customer digitally, you have to engage your workforce and your suppliers – and you have to marshal all of your assets to enable that elusive delightful digital experience.

The digital imperative is upon us, now is the time to identify where your organisation can improve and take the steps to deliver a delightful digital experience. 

Graeme Riley is managing director of SAP New Zealand.

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