10 best practices for seamless digital customer experiences

10 best practices for seamless digital customer experiences
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The demand for seamless customer experiences continues to rise, yet many traditional businesses with diverse clients struggle to bridge the gap between legacy systems and evolving expectations. Complex customer landscapes, non-digital core products, siloed digital efforts, and the pressure to compete with digital-native disruptors all contribute to fragmented customer journeys.

Henkel, Greif, Schneider Electric, Verder, Eneco, and Heineken are just a few examples of companies with multiple touchpoints and B2B customers that we've helped address these challenges. By aligning all digital touchpoints, personalizing interactions, and prioritizing a seamless experience, these businesses can not only retain their current customers but also attract new ones, ultimately driving revenue and increasing market share.

Three pillars of seamlessness: Consistency, Continuity, Personalization

This article introduces a framework designed to help organizations create a consistently excellent customer experience across all digital interactions. It combines practical guidance with lessons learned from industry best practices in achieving seamless customer journeys.

The framework is organized into three key categories: consistency, continuity, and personalization. Each category is further divided into strategic principles that companies should consider when optimizing their customer journey across platforms. Here, we will go through them one by one, and offer some best practice insights and real-world examples.

Consistency: Building a unified brandexperience

Consistency is key to creating a smooth customer experience. It's all about keeping things the same across every digital interaction, so customers recognize and trust your brand. Here's how:

1. Maintain a unified brand image by maintaining consistent UI, tone, and navigation across all touchpoints: Consistency in branding ensures a seamless and recognizable experience for customers, fostering trust and loyalty. This can be achieved by establishing brand guidelines that dictate design elements, language style, and navigation patterns, ensuring uniformity across all digital touchpoints. Apple for example, uses a consistent branding image across its channels (e.g., Apple Store, apple for developers and apple for business) and market (e.g., Japan, the US and the Netherlands) to ensure that each and every user perceives the broadly recognized, uniform, “Apple brand”.

2. Bundle and address needs logically within the same platform, prevent siloed platforms: By consolidating features within a single platform, businesses can streamline the user experience and avoid fragmentation. This involves identifying and grouping related services to comprehensively address user needs, eliminating the need to navigate between separate platforms. For example, ClassPass bundles all the needs of customers seeking a healthier lifestyle into one app. Users can book gym slots, classes, personal trainers, wellness treatments, and healthy food options, all within a single platform, instead of using multiple apps as they would have before.

3. Build journeys around customer needs & segments, not products: Building journeys around customer needs and specific segments, rather than product offerings, creates a more relevant and engaging experience. This involves aligning navigation and touchpoints with the customer's search intent, which is often need-based, not product-based.

Case in point: It's crucial to clearly define which customer needs you aim to address on each platform (and which you choose not to). We found that our client had over-engineered their customer segments and addressed needs in a disorganized manner across multiple platforms. This led to incoherent customer experiences. Most established B2B companies opt for a central platform for all customers and needs, or a dedicated platform per segment. Both approaches work, but it's important to commit to one instead of partially implementing both and addressing needs halfway.

<div class="insights_cta-component">Best practice example: Uber is a great example of building their journeys around customer needs. Across all platforms, web and app, Uber makes use of need-based navigation. However, they go a step further and also tailor their external touchpoints (e.g., Google search results) to be need-based, guiding customers to fulfill their needs.</div>

4. Guide customers through simple journeys, eliminate unnecessary steps & information overloads: Streamlining the customer journey is key to boosting conversions. By eliminating unnecessary steps, simplifying information, and reducing frustration, businesses create a smoother, more intuitive experience. This is especially crucial for established B2B companies, who often struggle with overly complex customer journeys. Common pitfalls include information overload, unnecessary detours, circular paths, and multiple channels for the same need. The key takeaway is to prioritize the customer's core needs and focus on fulfilling them efficiently. Remove unnecessary clutter and resist the urge to add more features simply because you can.

<div class="insights_cta-component">Best practice example: Booking.com's host registration is a prime example of a streamlined process. When listing a property, hosts can choose from four presets, saving them time and tailoring the registration to their specific property type. For instance, a Dutch host listing a holiday home in the Netherlands will have a different registration process than a Spanish host with multiple apartments. Notably, Booking.com even tailors the regulatory process to the relevant market.</div>

Continuity: Creating effortless cross-channel experiences

5. Allow for continuation of processes across channel of users ’choice (e.g., start check-out via web, finish via app): Providing seamless cross-channel experiences allows customers to interact with the brand on their own terms. This involves integrating backend systems to sync data and progress across channels, enabling users to resume their journey seamlessly, regardless of the platform they choose. This highlighted for our B2B client the importance of making decisive choices and sticking to them. Once customer needs are bundled and journeys simplified, it's crucial to facilitate those journeys end-to-end on the appropriate platform, while still allowing for seamless switching when it enhances the overall experience.

6. Facilitate journeys end-to-end on each channel to meet customer channel preferences, avoid switching to finalize a process (e.g., requirement to download an app to be able to purchase a product): Providing complete functionality within each channel eliminates the need for users to switch platforms mid-process, improving convenience and reducing friction. This is achieved by optimizing both user interface and backend processes to support end-to-end interactions within each individual channel. This approach underscored the importance for our B2B client to commit to their chosen platforms and streamline the end-to-end journey for each customer need, while still enabling seamless transitions when it benefits the user experience.

7. Tailor owned touchpoints to ensure customer seamlessly transition from any given starting point, as customer journeys often start outside of your own ecosystem (e.g., starting on Google search): This creates a warm welcome into the brand's world, instantly tailoring the experience for each customer. It means perfecting landing pages, using search engine optimization (SEO), and connecting with other platforms to make the journey as easy as possible. Take Airbnb, for instance. They've personalized the experience for both users and hosts. When a user searches "Airbnb in Manhattan" on Google, Airbnb's landing page dynamically showcases images of landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, instantly tailoring the experience. This seamless transition from external search to Airbnb's platform exemplifies personalized service. Similarly, when hosts consider listing their property, Airbnb utilizes location data to streamline onboarding, demonstrating understanding and increasing the likelihood of successful listings, driving engagement and tangible business results.

Personalization: Making every interaction count

8. Allow customers to have multiple roles (e.g., seller & buyer) without requiring separate accounts: Giving users the freedom to switch roles makes things easier and less frustrating, especially when one person fits into different categories. Companies can do this with smart user systems that let one account have multiple roles, so people can switch back and forth easily. Bol.com does this well, letting the same person use one account to buy and sell, since someone can be both a customer and a seller.

9. (Hyper)personalize processes & content to fit customer context & (3rdparty) data: Personalization enhances engagement and satisfaction by tailoring experiences to individual preferences, behaviours, and contexts. Leveraging data analytics and machine learning algorithms, organizations can customize content, recommendations, and interactions based on user demographics, browsing history, and past interactions.

<div class="insights_cta-component">Best practice example: The key takeaway for one of our clients was this: When it comes to personalization, B2B companies are falling short, and there's a chance to stand out by doing more. We noticed our client was only using basic customer information and very little personalization, like suggesting the same training to everyone. But, as the best examples show, there's so much more to gain through personalizing content and processes in real time based on individual customer data instead of aggregated customer segment data.</div>

10. Optimize processes by pre-filling & automating fields, minimize the amount of data(re)entry required: Simplifying data entry makes life easier for users, reducing frustration and the time spent on repetitive tasks. This leads to happier customers and higher conversion rates. By leveraging technologies like autofill, predictive text, and data validation, businesses can minimize manual input and ensure accuracy. Uber, for example, uses existing customer data (like location and behaviour) to pre-fill fields, streamlining the process.

Seamless experiences: Your competitive advantage

Creating seamless digital customer experiences is not a one-time project; it's an ongoing commitment. By understanding the unique challenges faced by traditional businesses and embracing the principles of consistency, continuity, and personalization, companies can transform fragmented journeys into delightful experiences. Remember, the most successful businesses are those that adapt and evolve alongside their customers' needs.

The path to seamlessness may not be easy, but the rewards – increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and ultimately, growth – are well worth the effort. Those who prioritize seamless experiences will be well-positioned to thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Are you interested in creating more seamless digital experiences for your customers ? So are we!

Contact us now to explore opportunities for collaboration, and together, let's drive positive impact!

Hidde van Manen
Managing Partner

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