New ‘digital-first’ experiences powered by data analytics are fundamentally changing the way companies connect with customers in the banking, insurance, and healthcare industries, to name a few. A key reason for this shift is the changing nature of today’s customer journey, which has moved from physical and in-person to digital and personalized, on any device. As companies navigate this new normal, there are several important factors to keep in mind when engaging with today’s digitally savvy consumers, including which channels to use, how to access, use and protect data, and how to get multiple technology platforms to work together.

But first, let’s start with a definition. In short, a digital-first experience is one where customers opt for today’s full range of digital channels to engage with a company. This can include shopping on a company’s web site, engaging with an automated chatbot, interacting over social media, and using a company’s smartphone application. Unlike more traditional in-person experiences in physical locations, digital-first experiences are data-driven, highly personalized, and highly efficient. For example, what may start out with a simple search for product information on a company’s web site can easily turn browsers into buyers through personalized engagement with automated chatbots and targeted product offers.

A recent Forbes article takes a closer look at the trend towards digital-first customer experiences, including steps to take for success. According to the article, “Customers expect seamless, fast, friction-free digital experiences, and as preferences continually shift, so does the way people interact with one another about the products and brands they trust.” 

In order to do business in this new world, companies need to approach digital-first experiences with a builders ethos, according to the article. To get started, CX leaders should first listen to customers to understand their preferences, then iterate on what a digital-first experience looks like for your business and customer, and deploy the right tools and technology to deliver on it. This process should include people from across your company, including marketiers, developers, and salespeople. 

To that end, success in building digital-first experiences requires bringing teams and functions together to deliver a consistent customer experience across the customer journey. According to the article, this requires not only a shift in mindset and culture but also organizational alignment around defined goals for both the business and customers.

Finally, companies should look at the current platform and technology mix for engaging with customers. In many cases, legacy systems that fail to enable the data-driven, digital experiences that today’s customers demand are in place. When building new digital-first experiences, CX leaders should engage with technology leaders throughout the process to ensure the company is implementing the tools and technology needed for today and in the future.

If you’d like to learn more, see this recent APEX of Innovation post about how conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is redefining today’s customer experience.