Knowing your customers well is key to delivering an outstanding customer experience. Getting to know them means gathering as much data as possible, which helps your business understand their journey as customers, from conversion, onboarding, lifecycle, and service preferences, to preferred ways of interacting with your brand.

Most of the time data gathering happens through digital forms. But in today’s world, it isn’t enough to simply have an online form for customers to fill in. Although moving forms online is far better than asking customers to download and print a form, the process is still slow, tedious and provides a poor experience. Too often customers must enter information that the business should already know, and are asked irrelevant questions. And if your forms aren’t mobile-friendly, then your customers probably won’t engage at all.

What’s worse, your customers aren’t the only ones who struggle with traditional forms. Chances are your organisation faces internal challenges with them too. Data quality and integrity issues affect compliance, while incomplete forms or manual processes lead to delays and lost revenue.

These are the top five things that organisations can use to improve their digital customer experience:

Make It Personal

Whether your organisation operates in banking, insurance, government or any other industry, personalisation is a major boost to customer engagement. With the amount of data you (hopefully) collect with every customer interaction, you should be able to provide a digital service that is highly customisable.

Knowing your customers’ preferences and being able to pre-fill data for them is a great start. Even better is being able to pull from your existing records so you only have to ask for any extra information, not on file.

Customer experience experts state that it’s the “micro-moments” that make up the customer journey. It’s all in the details, and being able to wow your customers with a streamlined experience is no longer a luxury, in this digital world it’s a must.

Make It Device Friendly

Depending on your target audience, it’s likely that your customers use their mobile devices more than they use their laptops or tablets. These devices are also interconnected, which means that a process that was started on a mobile device could be finished on a laptop or a tablet. This calls for uniformity across all devices in delivering the customer experience.

Customers want information or services to be available anytime, anywhere, at their moment of need. A study by Forresters showed that 44% of younger millennials and more than half of older millennials say they feel “frustrated and annoyed when a bank’s website isn’t mobile-friendly” and therefore are more likely to leave the website and abandon the service altogether.

Make It Frictionless

A logical but overlooked step is to make the process frictionless. This is as simple as using intuitive, smart forms that can guide the user through any online form all the way to submission. In an age where purchases, both large and small, are seamlessly carried out every day on digital platforms, consumers are increasingly impatient with processes that don’t see the user from point A through to point B in a couple of clicks.

If the process is disjointed or asks for irrelevant information, it’s very difficult to get the user to complete any transaction. Integrations like adding an e-signature to digital forms help to make it seamless for users to safely finish what they start and reducing risk at the same time. Any form asking its users to print it out and send it to an office is quickly being abandoned.

Make It Low-Risk

A report from McKinsey of a bank that had 70% of its new account applications paper-based reported some astonishing results. Given that these applications were manually handled and filed, 30 to 40% had mistakes and needed to be re-submitted. Many applications got stuck on a pile of applications that took 4-5 days to be processed. And branch and back-office staff had to enter data manually from several disconnected systems into the workflow.

There was a time when paper-based forms were known for data integrity, despite the prevalence of typos, illegible handwriting, inaccurate data, and sometimes missing signatures. Smart forms can immediately turn all these risks into a seamless compliant system. Moving all these processes to smart forms keeps data centralised, robust, and gives you insights never before possible, such as tracking the timing of touchpoints and signature executions.

Make It Timely

Customers expect the interactions with your organisation to be in real-time. A 24/7 chat on your website that can provide immediate support; an FAQ page that can answer questions; a response from the customer support team within hours or minutes of submitting a question.

In fact, 64% of consumers expect companies to respond to and interact with them in real-time, according to a recent survey by Salesforce. But keeping up in real-time with manual processing will just not be possible. Smart forms leverage actionable workflows to trigger tasks automatically, such as the creation of personalised communications on demand (e.g. confirmation emails or text messages) as well as other core processes.

Instead of requiring multiple departments and reviews, the adaptive interview can flag urgent issues and alert a customer in real-time when additional information or action is needed, such as a personal call with an agent.