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Digital Customer Experience: A Critical Success Factor during COVID19 and in the New Normal

Digital Customer Experience: A Critical Success Factor during COVID19 and in the New Normal
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by Sanjeev Kapoor 22 Feb 2021

Since the first days of 2020 COVID19 has led many companies worldwide to accelerate the digital transformation of their activities. In several cases, businesses had to transform physical channels to digital ones. Furthermore, most companies considered ways for improving their digital services towards delivering exceptional experiences and services to their customers. Likewise, the pandemic has changed the ways CIOs (Chief Information Officers) and other C-level executives collect and leverage business data about their products and services. Emphasis is nowadays given on customer interactions through digital channels and virtualized service delivery. In this landscape, digital champions go a step beyond conventional digital service offerings: They focus on the delivery of novel and exceptional digital experiences to their customers.


Trends in Digital Experiences during COVID19 Times

COVID19 led to the massive introduction of new digital services, which facilitated enterprises to operate in the light of applicable restrictions. Specifically, enterprises focused on digital services that help them operate despite restrictions like site lockdowns, tele-working policies, and social distancing. Many of these digital services focused on improving customer experience. In this direction, enterprises took advantage of the following digital trends:

  • Front office Automation: The pandemic introduced restrictions in the organizations’ ability to serve customers through conventional front office services. For instance, COVID19 measures restricted the capacity of banks, retail shops and public sector organizations to provide services in their physical branches. To alleviate this limitation, these organizations replaced human services with automated services that were provided by software agents like conversational chatbots. Leveraging advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), chatbots reduced errors and overheads, while providing faster service. In several cases, they were also able to deliver highly personalized and effective services to customers. Hence companies saw an increased number of happy customers. Following the end of the pandemic, i.e., in the new normal, companies will continue to deploy chatbots, to boost their ability to provide effective, error-free, and personalized customer services.
  • Video Channels and Presentation: To enhance customer experience, many enterprises resorted to extensive deployment of video presentations and live streaming. This was for example the case with product presentations in e-commerce sites. Furthermore, live streaming becomes one of the primary interaction modalities between customers and merchants. This helped reducing the number of physical interactions. Several businesses spent significant time and effort in structuring and managing live streaming interactions. For example, they introduced Q&A (Question and Answer) sessions, as well as sessions providing specialized information (e.g., “ask the experts”) to potential customers. Live streaming sessions were complemented with other forms of video content like pre-recorded webinars.
  • Multi-Channel Data-Driven Platforms for Personalized Experiences: Digital services provide much room for personalization, given their ability to collect and analyse large amounts of customer data. The latter can be used to build customer profiles and subsequently to personalize the digital experience. In this direction, enterprises collect, integrate, and consolidate customer data from all possible data sources, including all the customer touchpoints. Moreover, enterprises take advantage of advanced analytics technologies (e.g., machine learning techniques), towards profiling customers and providing customer-centric recommendations. Most importantly, thanks to machine learning, customer segmentation and recommendations can take place in real-time. This provides a much better experience than conventional human-mediated marketing practices.
  • Immersive and Remote Digital Experiences: To compensate for the lack of physical interactions with products and people, many companies provide immersive experiences to their customers. In this direction, companies benefit from the deployment of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies in their web sites. Likewise, they provide AR marketing tools and AR-based user journeys. AR technologies are also used to provide remote support such as remote instructions to technicians or customers as part of Do It Yourself (DIY) processes.
  • Mobile-First Strategies: Following the pandemic outbreak, many companies realized a shift towards mobile-first strategies for their IT applications. Smart phones represent the most widely used devices across all segments of the population. By implementing mobile-first strategies, companies provide advanced digital experiences to a very broad range of customers. Note that companies were already implementing mobile-first strategies before the pandemic, yet COVID19 has accelerated this trend.

Overall, recent technological advances enable the delivery of exceptional digital experiences. The above-listed trends illustrate how most companies leveraged these advances following the COVID19 pandemic outbreak.

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Guidelines for Successful Digital Experiences

IT managers and CIOs must take advantage of the above-listed trends towards implementing effective digital customer experiences that will set their companies apart from competitors. In this direction they must also consider the following guidelines:

  • Stand-out by showing that you care: The COVID19 period is without a doubt very difficult and challenging for all citizens. Customers are no exception to this rule. Therefore, businesses must show that they care about their customers through supporting them with digital services rather than emphasizing aggressive marketing actions.
  • Reach to customers regardless of time and their location: To support customers in effective ways, businesses must be able to digitally meet them at any time and location. For example, they must offer home delivery options at all times, along with contactless payment options. The latter should be incorporated in the digital experiences offered to the customers.
  • Planning for the new normal: Successful digital experiences must be designed not only for COVID19 times but also for the post COVID19 new normal. The new normal will find customers under economic pressure. Digital channels must be used to provide customers with cost-effective services that will save them time and money. Furthermore, the services should be designed with the new normal in mind i.e., a world of reduced physical contacts, less travel, and more emphasis on healthcare resilience.
  • Being “agile” and listening to the voice of the customer: Enterprises must continually listen to the voice of their customers. To this end, they must pay attention to all customer interactions in all digital channels such as social media channels. Moreover, they should try to remedy problems spotted by the customers in order to continually improve their digital experience.


During COVID19 times and in the new normal businesses will have to offer effective digital services to their customers. They must go beyond fulfilling customer requests to offering exceptional experiences that respect the customer’s needs. Furthermore, they must continually improve the offered services based on analysis of feedback from the customers. The quality of the offered digital experience is nowadays defining an enterprise in the eyes of the customer. As such it is also directly used with profitability and the company’s bottom lines.

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