A five step process for developing a digital customer experience strategy

Many organisations talk up the importance of customer experience, but lack a well-formed CX strategy – let alone an aligned strategy for digital experiences. This makes it difficult for their leaders to determine how they can provide a better service to customers or prioritise resources.

In this article, we look at the five steps that will enable you to develop a digital customer experience strategy that supports your corporate objectives, aligns with your brand values and meets your customer’s needs.

Digital experience strategy development process

Step one – Understand the business objectives

The organisation’s mission and corporate objectives should guide the development of all underlying business strategies, including digital experience.  In short any experience developed for customers must contribute to the achievement of the organisation’s objectives and fulfil the brand values aspired to.

Branding is particularly important in this context, as the digital experience customers receive will directly impact their opinion of the brand, so it is very important to be consistent.

The best starting point is to review corporate strategy documents and operational plans.  These will provide an initial view, but bear in mind documents often only tell half the story, so it is important to schedule meetings with key stakeholders to get the real insights.

Step two – Develop a deep understanding of the target customers and their goals

Business objectives don’t always align with customer goals and to build engaging digital experiences for your customers, you’ll need to balance their needs against those of the organisation.

This means really getting to know your customer and immersing yourself in their world to understand their goals, motivations and behaviours.

Some useful tools and techniques to consider for this task include customer personas, one-to-one interviews, surveys, customer journey mapping, jobs-to-be-done and/or user stories.

Step three – Map out and assess your digital assets

Now it is time to move into audit mode and understand all the different digital touchpoints that your customers might come into contact with when engaging with your organisation.

Bear in mind that behind every great customer touchpoint there is a whole host of backoffice support; so it is also a good idea to map out all the backoffice teams, tools and systems that make your touchpoints happen.

Examples of digital touchpoints include:

  • Websites
  • Apps
  • Social media pages
  • Search presence
  • Podcasts
  • Point-of-sale and kiosks (e.g. ATMs, customer self-service points)
  • Digital billboards and signage
  • Gadgets and devices developed by your business to deliver your product (e.g. Amazon Firestick)

The backoffice assets supporting them can include:

  • Customer databases
  • Digital teams / key staff members
  • Tools (analytics, email mailing lists, behavioural insights)
  • Core systems and processes

As you build up your map of digital assets you can begin assessing how effective they are in meeting customer needs, so that this information can feed into strategy formulation step.

Step four – Map out the competitive landscape

Understanding the competitive landscape is another important step and it will enable you to compare how well your organisation’s digital experience compares to your competitors and provide a source of inspiration for new experience innovations.

This benchmarking exercise can range from a high-level review through to a much more detailed assessment and there are many tools to help you carry out a competitor benchmarking exercise.

Step five – Formulate your digital experience strategy

Steps 1 to 4 all focus on gathering sufficient information and insight to enable you to establish your current position in the market and understand the general direction of where you need to get to.

The final step is different in that it focuses on defining the specific destination and the details on how you will get there.

Essentially there are three questions to answer:

  • What outcomes do we want to achieve? – Remembering that all business activities should jointly link through to the corporate objectives, brand aspirations and customer goals; you will need to define the outcomes of the digital experience strategy.  Examples could include higher customer conversions, improved retention rates or more referrals.
  • How will we achieve the outcomes? – Knowing a very specific outcome enables you to put together a roadmap of highly targeted activities to achieve it. Examples of these activities could include improvements to high priority touchpoints or improvements to a core product to overcome previously discovered issues.
  • How will we measure success? – The final aspect is determining how to measure the impact of the digital experience strategy so that you know you are on the right track. One approach would be to define KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to provide a tangible measure.

Implementing and optimising your digital experience strategy

Strategy development is just the starting point and the real test begins with the execution.  To succeed you’ll need to refine and optimise the strategy based on a continuous cycle of Build > Measure > Learn.  This enables you to pivot based on new findings and information gained from the delivery experience, making your organisation much more competitive.