August 9, 2022

The Current State of the Digital Customer Journey

The world is marching steadily along the digital path. While newer companies wholeheartedly embrace the digital customer journey, not every company or industry understands it. One thing is clear: Digital transformation’s relationship with the customer journey is not a destination in and of itself, it’s a process.

What is a digital customer journey and why does it matter?

By optimizing your digital customer experience for ease of use, you can help your customers see the value in your product. In turn, this increases your odds of retaining them.

According to Qualitrics, “Research shows brands with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, in comparison to 33% of companies with weak strategies.”

As a result, mapping the digital customer journey is a higher priority than ever. Doing so allows you to identify opportunities for optimization.

Companies with effective digital customer journeys

Since personal computers became widely available, consumers began adopting digital. The advent of smartphones accelerated this trend, and the pandemic took it to a new level.

Yet, the job is never done. As technology matures, new opportunities to optimize the digital customer journey arise. To that end, new startups and industries spring up constantly, intending to disrupt the industry.

The transportation industry may seem like an unlikely hero for digital customer experiences. However, by creating a simple and intuitive experience, Uber set a high standard for ride-sharing apps and digital products in general. Anyone with a working knowledge of smartphones can figure it out quickly and easily.

Trex is helping prospective consumers reimagine their backyard escape with a Deck Designer tool that harnesses emerging technologies to deliver an exceptional experience—as well as a blueprint, cost estimate, and shopping list.

What started as a way for two broke San Franciscans to make rent has become a global competitor of major hotel brands. Airbnb started as a minimum viable product where the founders rented out their apartment to earn money for rent. This MVP gave way to a $6 billion company. However, in addition to being a strong MVP example, Airbnb can also be a cautionary tale about what happens when you stop prioritizing improvements to your customer journey. Despite the demand for a low-cost alternative to other booking options, because they stopped focusing on customer journey optimization, they are plagued by low ratings. Taking time to revisit and improve their customer journey might help them turn this around.

With that in mind, Fortune, a long-time leading publication that began its digital transformation in 2019, proves that it’s never too late to focus on the digital customer journey. By developing a digital ecosystem that delivers the high-quality information their customers wanted, Fortune was able to leverage the power of an improved digital customer journey to grow engagement and carve out their place in today’s digital world.

How to map the digital customer journey

Understanding how to modernize your business starts with mapping the digital customer journey. According to NTT Vice President Raman Sapra’s interview with Knowledge at Wharton, “before embarking on a digital transformation, organizations need to first identify their business imperatives and priorities.”

Digital customer journey mapping starts with identifying all the touchpoints for leads and customers. This includes understanding how they find you and what gains their trust. It also involves exploring what they experience after becoming a customer and making decisions to move on.

By coupling these touch points with customer surveys and user data, you can identify customer friction and pain points to better understand how you can improve your process(es), product(s), and feature(s). You will find areas of significant drop-offs, features that people love (or don’t love), and consistent feedback indicating you have some issues.

You can analyze this information to understand the best opportunities to optimize your funnel. This process might include:

  • Developing strategies to draw in prospective customers at the top of the funnel.
  • Maintaining engagement at the middle of the funnel.
  • Uncovering new ideas to build trust and increase your bottom-of-the-funnel conversion rates.

Keep in mind that your digital customer journey isn’t always exclusively digital. Instead, it often works in tandem with human connections to build a smooth, cohesive, and top-notch experience.

A word to the wise: as in all UX research, you also need a strategy to identify and evaluate changing customer preferences, competitor analysis, and marketplace priorities. As Tim Harnett explains in VentureBeat, “Customer journey mapping isn’t a one-and-done process, but rather a continuous cycle.”

Trends in Digital Customer Journey Mapping

In addition to providing exceptional customer experiences, it’s about ensuring your company remains competitive by staying on top of marketplace trends, which include:

  • Increasingly sophisticated customers who value self-service
  • Omnichannel marketing to create a consistent experience everywhere customers encounter your brand
  • Utilizing exceptional customer experiences to differentiate your business
  • Dynamic support options that include chatbots, auto-replies, and AI to deliver quicker response times
  • Personalizing every step of the digital customer journey so that each customer feels as though you’re treating them as an individual

The Digital Customer Journey Is Dynamic

Ultimately, the state of the digital customer journey is one of constant growth and change. Your customers don’t exist in a vacuum, so it follows that your business must keep pace to maintain growing CX expectations. Failing to do so might spell a Blockbuster-style disaster. Take heed and prioritize mapping your digital customer journey to ensure your business can continue to thrive.

3Pillar Global’s team of experts helps clients stay at the forefront of digital transformation. Contact us today to learn how we can help you map your digital customer journey to create an industry-leading customer experience that builds loyalty and trust.

Special thanks to these members of FORCE, 3Pillar’s expert network, for their contributions to this article.

FORCE is 3Pillar Global’s Thought Leadership Team comprised of technologists and industry experts offering their knowledge on important trends and topics in digital product development.