Customer Service Imperatives in a Digital World.

Stuart Joce Posted on July 02, 2020


Digital products and services are creating new markets and shaping the most exciting growth sectors of the economy. They are different propositions requiring different thinking to physical propositions. However, there are a number of basic similarities that allow customer service learnings to be carried over.

Similarity to physical products.

The price premium is real—and it’s big. The payoffs for valued, great experiences are tangible. In fact, they are up to a 16% price premium on products and services, as well as an increase in loyalty. In return, there’s a sharp increase in willingness to give up valuable personal data with 63% saying they’d share more information with a company that offers a great experience.

Bad experience is driving customers away—fast.

You won’t have many chances to get it right. One in three consumers say they will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience. This figure varies by geography globally and in Latin America is as high as 49%.

Hygiene is important.

Speed, convenience, helpful employees and friendly service matter most, each hitting over 70% in importance to consumers. Those who get it right prioritize technologies that foster or provide these benefits over adopting technology for the sake of being cutting edge. This is important to consider when business casing investment as these areas often yield indirect benefits.

The employee experience is the cornerstone.

Human interaction matters now—and over 75% of consumers globally want more of it in the future. Regardless, to be at its best, the technology supporting human interaction must be seamless and unobtrusive across platforms.

Give up generational fixation.

What matters most to all generations surveyed holds true for Gen Z, too but definitions require a closer look. For example speed and knowledge specifically is important to everybody, but what passes for speed and knowledge to Gen Z might be different for other generations. When it comes to communication, instant is expected and convenience of a seamless transition from tablet to smartphone to desktop to human is basic hygiene.

Experience is the strategy.

Although customer experience is widely recognised as a priority, execution isn’t yet meeting expectations. This is partly due to the length of time investments in digital transformation can take, and partly due to poor execution. 54% of U.S. consumers say customer experience at most companies needs improvement. That’s quite an experience gap and represents a huge opportunity for those getting it right, to get ahead.

Get a subscriber and keep a subscriber.

Customer acquisition in the digital world is expensive so the success of the business model relies on keeping customers and generating sales through them. This means providing exceptional service, experience and staying relevant. Digital products and services are typically limited propositions with “one size fits most” approaches. It is therefore important to understand what the customer needs and how those needs change. Customers will proactively contact you when things are wrong so it is important to create positive touch points to balance these out. It is important to be proactive with the rest of your customers, to engage and obtain insight as this information won’t be volunteered from your most satisfied or neutral customers. Understand that it’s not just millennials buying digital products and services, or at least you don’t want it to be. Build retention strategies that recognise different expectations for different groups within your base.

Understand consumption channels and service consistently and accordingly.

The business’s preferred customer base is beyond just the millennial and expects service beyond the channels they bought in. Much like somebody buying a mobile phone online expects to be supported in store, a consumer of digital products bought through an app, will have expectations that they can speak to an individual if needed. Building out all relevant touch points is vital. Now you need to understand  where they fit into your model

Free v freemium v premium.

The low incremental production cost of digital products and services has led to the freemium explosion. It is critical to understand the investment model that goes with it. In typical simplicity equating marginal cost with marginal revenue to maximise profit, would denote no revenue, no investment for service and therefore no service. If this was the case, the freemium model wouldn’t exist. Having a clear understanding of the value of freemium customers, possibly as simple as being based on the % that upgrade, but also likely to include the % that refer, is important. But understanding differentiated strategies that provide service for minimal cost is critical. Providing clear communication about products and services and clear and easy to navigate FAQs are a vital part of the business model. Clearly differentiating service between free, freemium and premium models is an important part of the upsell driver for the customer, so providing the right service for each level must recognise that “right” doesn’t mean “everything”.

Importance of Mobile.

Digital products and services are more likely to be consumed or controlled via mobile. Books, music, movies are typically consumed through apps and services such as insurance and memberships are typically managed in the same way. In building your service strategy it is therefore important to recognise the importance of this touch point and proportion investment accordingly.

Not all digital products and services are equal.

The final word of warning is to remember that the advice available, including this article, is written from the understanding and perspective of the writer and the propositions that they are considering. Understand the topics that have been prompted, but also understand that the thinking needs applying explicitly to your proposition. If your proposition is a digital game, the service demands will vary considerably compared to something such as WordPress Plugins.

It’s an interesting and exciting market, and the challenges are interesting and exciting too. To find out more about how we can help, contact us at