Expectations concerning the digital offers of companies seem to grow exponentially. New online ideas from other sectors rapidly become generally applicable and must be adopted, competitors try their hand at new approaches and applications, the technology sector continuously expands the technical base, thereby providing new perspectives, and digital natives loudly demand that everything be available everywhere and at all times. The innovation cycle is becoming increasingly shorter and a very important question arises in this regard: is a long-term online strategy still feasible at all in this environment?
The answer is obvious: becoming exposed to the continuous pressure to act and reacting accordingly not only makes no sense but also causes dissatisfaction, internally and externally. A company following all online trends would lose its authenticity. When you are aware of that, you can definitely prepare a long-term digital strategy. There are two crucial considerations here: what are my must-haves that I have to offer in the digital area, and based on what performance indicators can I transform my own strengths into the digital world and at the same time appear authentic online?
Undoubtedly, there are specific digital hygiene factors in today’s online world that your customers assume – your availability does not increase satisfaction, it is only your absence that stands out and has an adverse effect on user experience.
Nowadays, your customers – and we explicitly understand not only digital natives under this term – rightly suppose, for example, that their expectations concerning your website are in the centre of attention: Do I feel that my expectations are addressed? Do I find what I look for quickly and intuitively? Is the content customised and characterised by high quality? Creation of high quality online-compatible contents is not only a challenge for editors or specialists but it is also decisive for a consistent brand message.
The new patterns of use resulting from the increasingly more mobile society assume that information can be accessed using the already available devices – with high performance and simple contact capabilities with prompt answers to the questions asked. Moreover, customers are reluctant to leave such a chosen channel but they still feel affected by media interruptions.
It is common knowledge that the online area is developing at a high pace. Therefore, there are also features that are currently still regarded as positive differentiators but that will constitute must-haves in the foreseeable future. For example, many companies’ attempts to offer customers an integral customer journey in the foreseeable future are still in their infancy: the customer can complete their journey to a perfect product step by step on such devices that they have at their disposal in various situations – online and offline – and despite diverse touch points that form an integrated whole. Perhaps with personalised offers that can be prepared based on customer data or visitor behaviour, which again considerably increase the conversion rate.
There is still another way. And as has already been said: you will not be the only one with these must-haves. That is why differentiation additionally requires enthusiasm criteria that surprise the customers and considerably raise their satisfaction level. So emphasise your strengths also in the online channel. They can be also different from what all others have.
The basis for recognising these enthusiasm criteria and making use of them are your customers and knowledge about their needs. What is meant here are not expectations of your online presence arising from the internet standards applicable worldwide – but expectations your customers have of your company.
In terms of behavioural economics, people live in two different worlds which are subordinate either to social or to market standards. If both these types of standards are confused in business life, the company can get into trouble. It is a fantastic idea to treat customers as partners, like for example an insurance company in the USA with its motto: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” However, if this insurance company sent a reminder with a respective fee immediately after a delay in payment instead of making a friendly call to the customer, the standards would be confused and the customer would resign at once.
Companies should be aware of such behavioural economics also while establishing their online strategy and developing their online channel. What have you successfully done on the offline market? Have you compared your online performance with your own market identity? How are your branches integrated in the customer journey? Do you know who looks for what on your website? Do you know not only the typical “sector’s online customer” but also your own customer? Really?
The digital transformation is under way. One day companies will make digital end-to-end processes available across all systems, and their homework will be done. But every company develops its own online success factors on its own. So consider your strengths apart from the must-haves and follow your strategy, the principles of which are based on verified insights.