30 Jun 2023
Digital Products
9 min read

Digital strategy and the customer experience



Marketing Manager

Creating meaningful relationships based on trust is vital to the customer experience – and that’s obviously been true forever.

What’s (relatively) new is how trust is built and the customer experience is influenced through interacting with digital tools and platforms along the customer journey.

And despite the World Wide Web having been around since 1991, not many businesses have what you could call a “mature” approach to digital customer experience. In 2021 – a survey of 200 CMOs found that 48% felt the customer experience they’re delivering was significantly below expectations, and 53% felt that a lack of skills and knowledge around tech and data was the most significant barrier.

So how do you get to grips with your customer experience – and improve it – from a digital perspective?

Customer experience vs user experience

Before we move on, we should define some things.

You may hear people talk about “customer experience” and “user experience” and think the two terms are interchangeable. Well strictly, they’re not.

User experience refers to how people interact with your digital products (your website, apps, portals) specifically. Customer experience goes beyond this and combines the perceptions, feelings and beliefs that people have about your brand as a whole. HubSpot cover this in more detail here.

So, they’re slightly different concepts. But there is some overlap.

CX and UX people may set themselves up in different camps, but the truth is, the two are closely related. If someone has a bad user experience while interacting with your website or app, they’ll very likely come away with a negative perception of your brand/organisation as a whole, or at least a diminished one. This means they’ve had a less than optimal customer experience.

So although customer experience is slightly different to user experience, user experience influences customer experience.

With that in mind, let’s get into how you might shape your digital strategy around delivering a better user and customer experience.

How do you evaluate the (digital) customer experience?

Looking across the broader customer experience, there are a number of ways to evaluate how people feel about your brand and their interactions with you across the customer journey. This includes customer satisfaction surveys, Net Promoter Score, and looking at reasons for customer churn.

But, as we’re drilling down deeper into customer experience and how it relates to digital, we have to stray a bit into the territory of UX.

Let’s have a look at some areas of the digital customer experience you’ll want to evaluate, and how you might go about it.

Where are users dropping off or experiencing problems?

The customer experience begins from the very first time they hit your website or app. How they move through and interact with your content, make purchases, get in touch, starts to form a perception of your brand in their mind. And once they are a customer, obviously interaction with your digital products doesn’t stop there. They’ll still need to engage with your content, complete transactions, and request support. Having a view of how users and customers flow through key tasks and interactions within your digital products, where drop-off points are, and where users are struggling, gives you powerful insight into the customer experience and how it might be improved.

How to measure: On a fairly basic level, you can set up a Path Exploration in GA4 to examine how users are moving through your website or app and where they might be dropping off. You could also use a digital experience monitoring platform like Hotjar to get screen recordings of users interacting with your site, and use that additional insight to figure out where users are experiencing difficulties. You can also collect user feedback directly from tools like Hotjar if you want some specific insight into how easy it is to navigate around your product. You could also take a more “old-school approach” of asking your customers for feedback directly.

Path exploration in GA4

Path explorations in Google Analytics 4 enable you to examine how users are moving you through your website and where they’re dropping off.


Offline and manual processes

Parts of the customer journey need to remain “offline” and “manual”. After all, we’re humans buying from humans (for now). But some are unnecessarily so, and could be made digital and/or automated in order to improve efficiency and the customer experience as a result. For example, a restaurant might have a website showing their opening times, menu, and basic information, but may still ask people to call up to book. The restaurant could save the time and resources spent taking bookings over the phone by implementing a digital booking system.

How to measure: Measuring the impact of laborious analogue or manual processes on the customer experience will most likely involve looking at the wider business, outside of digital analytics. You’ll need to identify key processes in the customer journey and the key internal people involved in delivering them. Evaluating these processes will involve discussion internally and possibly some kind of customer survey or research to understand the impact of these processes. From there you can identify which could be improved with digital products. A discovery sprint undertaken can be a helpful process in unlocking and interpreting some of this insight.


How your website or digital product performs on a “technical” level significantly impacts the customer experience. A poor browsing experience on a fundamental level will frustrate users and increase the likelihood they’ll navigate away and seek out a competitor.

When we talk about performance in this respect, you’d want to consider aspects like:

  • Page loading speeds and server response time
  • Other loading metrics include Large Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and First Input Delay (FID) which impact how quickly and efficiently users can see and interactive with your content
  • Cross-device and cross-browser compatibility – ensuring the experience is consistent across different devices (i.e. desktop and mobile) and the latest versions of the most used browsers (e.g. Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Edge)
  • Accessibility – ensuring that the experience is consistent and seamless for everyone, regardless of ability

How to measure: Google’s Core Web Vitals are a set of key user experience metrics you can measure against. There are a number of ways to access these metrics, either through Search Console or by navigating to “Lighthouse” in the Google Chrome Inspector tool. This report will give you scores out of 100 against performance, accessibility, best practices and SEO, with suggestions for improvements. Other tools like GTmetrix build on the Core Web Vitals and provide more granular detail on how long specific elements take to load. Cross-device and cross-browser compatibility is more or less a manual test – i.e. browsing your website across different browsers and devices and noting down any bugs or inconsistencies on specific platforms. There are also a number of free auditing tools for measuring your website against accessibility standards.

Google Core Web Vitals scores and opportunties

Google Core Web Vitals give you a score out of 100 in each area, and opportunities for improvement.

Your digital delivery partner can then use these key metrics to determine how your website or digital product can be optimised to improve, or how new experiences can be developed to deliver the best possible performance.

Deciding what a good digital customer experience looks like

Obviously, a good customer experience at a high level looks like more orders, more repeat business, and good feedback. But how does this translate more specifically to your digital experience?

It’s very important not to make assumptions about what your customers want/need from you digitally. Or at least, you should actively challenge any assumptions you do have. Making unchallenged assumptions could lead to you investing time, resource and budget into a website or digital product that does not and will not fulfil your customer’s needs.

Who are your key users?

Before you begin scoping out your digital product, you need to identify exactly who will be using it, and what for. You’ll need to list both internal and external users who might interact with you digitally. External users will include customers and potential customers, but it might also include potential employees, investors, and partners.

Once you have your key internal and external users listed out, you’ll need to ask yourself…

What do users/customers need from you?

You’ll then review your list of key users and determine what tasks they’ll need to be able to perform. These tasks can be quite high-level initially – i.e. “find out about our services” or “book an appointment”. From there, you or your digital delivery partner, might go on to create various user journeys, where each stage of that task is described. These can then be used to create more granular user flows, which will describe the exact steps required (usually as a wireflow or flow chart) to complete a task. These form the building blocks of your digital product, and help you and your digital deliver partner determine what exactly needs to be built.

Creating an actionable digital strategy

Once you’ve done the groundwork and the user/customer research, you’ll want to actually do something with all that insight.

As we’ve touched on, engaging with a digital studio can be really valuable both in the strategic planning stage as well as the delivery stage. An experienced partner can not only help and advise on user research and experience, they’ll also likely have a broader knowledge of the digital tools available to aid the customer experience. This could widen the scope of what’s possible and also ensure that you get exactly the digital product you need, built in the right way.

Summing up

Designing your digital strategy to deliver an exceptional customer experience starts with understanding who your users are – both internal and external – and what they need to achieve from interacting with you. From there, you can begin to scope out exactly what it is you need, and how it should be built.

The right digital partner can help both formulate this research and insight and also turn it into an actionable product roadmap.

Need some guidance with digital strategy and customer experience? Want to know what’s possible? Get in touch for a chat and we’ll see how we can help.