While ‘customer experience’ hasn’t ceased to be a buzzword for a decade or so, something changed a few years ago.

Instability and anxiety stormed into our lives; the value of ‘connectedness’ was reinstated by a raging pandemic. As uncertainty loomed, being connected to businesses, everyday needs, family, and friends became ever more important.

A new normal was established, where locations, devices, touchpoints, and channels became a vehicle to remain in touch— and connectedness was all that mattered. It changed customer experiences forever. Human networks started to reorient themselves around meaningful interactions. As a result, customer experiences started to mean solving customers’ challenges, lending them an empathetic ear to ensure they get what they set out for while offering personalized services.

Connected customer experiences make customers stay connected in a positive and dynamic environment built on trust.

1. What Is Connected Customer Experience?

Connections intended to promote fulfilling interaction, memorable communication, and customer service that serves holistically, and not just sell—while being accessed through any channel or medium—is one way to define connected customer experiences. Connected customer experiences are underpinned by empathy, efficiency, and uniqueness; they offer solutions tailored to customers’ situations. Selling is not the sole idea behind connected customer experiences; the idea is to connect first. And establishing a connection is what matters the most. So, quite naturally, centralized data management, constant innovation, ingenuity, personalization, convenience, and staying associated with customers is at the heart of a connected CX.

2. What Is Customer Experience Management?

Customer experience management (CXM) is all about transforming processes and capabilities driven by software, analytics, data management, and content management systems to nurture exceptional experiences and turn customers into ardent brand advocates. Businesses must ensure consistent, accurate, and more compliant data is teamed up with sophisticated web content management to deliver personalized experiences across channels, languages, and content types. CXM aims to deliver consistent customer experiences on any channel or device powered by high-quality data management. It ceaselessly improves brand loyalty by offering positive multichannel brand experiences, higher customer satisfaction to reach business goals and fuel personalization and contextualization by offering targeted, dynamic and consistent experiences.

3. How Connected Experiences Are Inextricably Linked With Data?

Data is the starting point for customer experiences. Unified digital experiences are modelled over data accumulated as accurately and truthfully as possible from various systems and sources to make experiences real and reliable.

  • Integrations link data and make connections possible: Integration between various systems facilitates product and customer data aggregation from various data sources like CRMs, ERPs, legacy systems, and 3rd party applications to construct a 360-degree view of data.
  • Data accelerates Automation: Connected data powers automation that paves the way for customer-centric experiences through merging customer profiles and carrying out customer segmentation so that right content can be presented to the right audience at the right moment. 
  • Data ensures multichannel efficacy: For accurate and consistent customer experiences that leave a lasting impression, data is consolidated so it can be shared across a range of touchpoints such as web, mobile, social platforms, IoT, digital marketplaces, kiosks, native platforms, and physical store.   
  • Data fuels personalized communication: Personalized, automated, omnichannel digital experiences are built over impeccable data. They are created by combining customer data collected at various stages of customer interaction and by learning from one customer exchange to improve the next.  

4. Connected Experience From a Customer’s Viewpoint

Customers care about being seamlessly linked with information, individuals, services, and organizations, via any devices or information-sharing applications. They want to spell out what they like, and get themselves heard; their lifestyles are individualistic and digitally savvy. Connectedness from the customer’s viewpoint means a bouquet of things that center around attributes such as convenience, velocity, efficiency, empathy, empowerment, ease, authenticity, and support. For many customers, it has come to the point that seamlessness is a given since channels are secondary. They want to get what they want, whenever they want, and quickly. A few characteristics that define customers’ connected expectations are:

  • They appreciate a sophisticated level of interconnectivity from mobile to IoT devices, which fulfills promises of pricing and product made to them. 
  • They love the personalization tailored to their taste and style and want to see what’s in there for ‘them as individuals’.
  • They expect immediate gratification but also look for meaning in what they seek. 
  • They look beyond transactional interactions and search for authenticity, empathy, and security.  
  • They want to share what they like when they like and experience interactions at any moment within their social circles. 

5. How Do Connected Customer Journeys Look Like?

Connected customer journeys are the only way by which organizations can serve customers’ expectations by combining great speed, personalization, and understanding; it works like a bridge to bring customers, businesses, and employees together. However, the most significant component that turns customer journeys into useful, unified experiences is a persistent focus on every step the customer takes. For example, John wants a pair of comfortable sneakers for everyday wear, including going to college, hanging out with friends, or attending his guitar classes.

Connected Customer Journey

  • Interest: John looks for sneakers on the web using queries “multipurpose sneakers”, “comfortable sneakers,” and “everyday wear sneakers.” In the evening, he finds a targeted ad for sneakers in his Facebook feed.
  • Acquire: Weekend arrives, and John is out with friends. He visits the nearby multi-brand store to see what he can find. The sales rep uses a tablet to assist John, enters his details to find his purchase history, and recommends what he might prefer.
  • Pre-purchase: At home at night, John checks out the multi-brand store website to buy a sneaker he liked. He moves the sneakers into the cart and notices many related products start showing up as recommendations. Then, moments before check-out, he gets a call from his friend to go out for dinner.
  • Reconnect: The next day, John receives a message in his inbox saying he’s getting a 15% discount if he purchases the sneakers in the next 24 hours and will get them through express delivery free of cost. John buys it.
  • Serve: He gets the sneakers delivered; the next day he comes across an essential care tip for the sneakers and wants to reconfirm it with the customer service staff. The service staff gives a full 5-minute demo about the quality of the material and the design used in his sneakers while confirming the care tip.
  • Advocate: Ecstatic with his purchase, John feels happy enough to share a great review about the multi-brand store and the sneaker brand.    

6. Foundational Elements for Connected Customer Experience

Connected customer experiences stand on a few foundational pillars that go beyond commercial success driven by shopping, ease of buying, recommendations, and even personalization or efficiency with which customers are served. They are the principles that make connections real and enable a human touch that appeals to multiple senses of customers and is also multi-dimensional.

  • Integrity: With customers sharing more and more of their personal data with businesses in return for more personalized experiences, it is for businesses to be responsible with their data and maintain utmost integrity so that customer trust remains sacrosanct.
  • Empathy: Interactions must exude relevance and human warmth and be significant to the customer. Understanding customers’ feelings, intentions, goals, and situation is part and parcel of a holistic customer experience.     
  • Resolution: The guiding motive behind any customer interaction, experience, or journey is to relieve customer pain, lend them an ear by identifying the issue, and improve satisfaction rate with every interaction. Customer experiences that cannot resolve customer pain will eventually drive churn. 

7. How Understanding Customers Drive Connected Experiences?

Understanding customer expectations is at the core of technological innovations; it has put customers in the drivers’ position. Connected devices are becoming the bedrock behind communication and transaction with customers. And customers are anticipating these demands to be met instantaneously. An entire culture is shaping up where immediacy and fulfillment of goal impact the decisions buyers make about the brands they want to engage with. Personal devices are at the heart of this connected experience. Every personal device offers a gateway to customers’ minds and hearts, desires and aspirations, and beliefs and convictions.

Customers do not just want to be understood but valued as humans. They want to be listened to, respected, trusted and recalled. Offering customers comfort, empowerment, customization, and channel-agnostic navigation facilitates building strong and resilient customer relationships. The focus is to put customers at the centre of their sales process and craft cohesive journeys for them to glide through conveniently.

8. Connected CX Leans on Technology— But Goes Beyond It!

Charting out impeccable customer journeys requires relentless effort and closeness with customers. High-quality data management, insights about customers’ interests, interpreting customers’ intentions are all building blocks of it. Delivering on promises requires high-end, sophisticated, cross-functional collaboration and critical competence.

However, the brand must display deep trust, authenticity, and omnipresence to get close to the customer and forge lasting connections with them. Any successful brand is a testimony to that. Adaptability and flexibility are a few attributes that brands adhere to in order to realign their offering around customers’ requirements. Strong forecasting engines, trends, and market undercurrents often power it.

Connectedness is central if businesses believe in valuing their customers and seeing them gratified.

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