For businesses undergoing digital transformation, achieving a consistent customer experience across all channels is a major challenge – one that is hampered by a tendency to focus efforts online at the expense of offline, a WARC report suggests.

It’s 20 years since the notion of “the experience economy” was first floated, so customer experience (CX) is not new, but what is new is how requirements have been flipped, with brands now seeking to ensure that offline experiences live up to expectations built up in digital ecosystems.

In WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit survey, both brands and agencies regard CX as the most important element of digital transformation (52% and 61% respectively) and both admit that the consistency of that is variable, if it exists at all.

CX: Online to offline, part of the Marketer’s Toolkit 2019, argues that the focus on digital transformation has created a lopsided view of the broader CX picture.

“All too often, experience is viewed through the lens of technology, including advancements of CRM systems and greater personalisation of digital marketing, rather than the real-world interactions that can have a decisive impact on how a consumer views a brand.”

And as more transactions take place online, offline infrastructure has been cut accordingly – often to detriment of overall CX.

But research by Kantar TNS has found that offline channels are most influential to advocacy, so brands need to ensure that touchpoints look and feel consistent, and evoke the same emotion as digital assets, and that employees are properly trained to help deliver the seamless experience customers expect.

That doesn’t mean just making the offline experience more digital, although that may well form part of the process; start with the desired experience, rather than the technology, and work from there, the report advises.

“Our expectations of physical spaces have dramatically changed in the last 12 months,” observes Abbie Walsh, managing director, UK and Ireland, Fjord, who recommends that brands use their understanding of customers’ online behaviours to reshape offline experience.

“In doing so, they will be able to create a live customer experience which transcends the digital world.”

Sourced from WARC