Presented by CMSWire

Humanity’s reliance on digital channels has exploded over the last 18 months, forcing even non-digital retailers into the online space just to keep up. At the same time, customers have become accustomed to a certain level of sophistication around their digital experience.

Personalization is no longer a nice-to-have — it’s table stakes. Same goes for delivering exceptional customer experiences. Organizations need to innovate, pivot, or stay the course, but sticking to tried-and-true methods might not work these days. In a world where one bad experience can turn a customer away from your brand forever, there’s not a lot of room for error when it comes to DCX (Digital Customer Experience).

The Research department of CMSWire conducts an annual survey on the state of digital customer experience, asking executives and practitioners for their insight into where DCX is headed in the coming years. Results from the 2021 survey suggest that the DCX space is bound for upheaval — if it hasn’t happened already.

Download the full report for free: State of Digital Customer Experience 2021

Digital customer experience matters now more than ever

Customer loyalties and priorities are always changing in a normal year, but 2020 was anything other than normal. With the customer journey transformed to such a degree over the past 18 months, organizations are struggling to understand “the new customer journey.” This is just one of the many reasons 34% of survey respondents believe delivering quality digital customer experiences is very important to their organization, with an additional 46% calling it very important.

Customer journey mapping isn’t a one-and-done process, but rather a continuous cycle. Forward-thinking organizations understand this and invest accordingly in analytics and other DCX capabilities. Top customer experience investment priorities according to survey respondents are analytics, insights, and dashboarding (51%); customer journey analysis and optimization (37%) and web CMS platforms (36%).

The continuing pandemic has also changed some organizational behaviors surrounding DCX. As one survey respondent put it, “COVID-19 put gasoline on a fire that has already been burning.” Digital transformation had been bubbling under the surface for years — the pandemic laid plain the need to address DCX and fully commit to creating great digital experiences.

Identify DCX challenges to overcome them

Challenges to DCX implementation persist, even as 80% of organizations believe improving digital customer experiences is critical for organizational success. Budget is always a concern and 46% of survey respondents call limited budgets or resources challenging to overcome. Beyond budget, however, come a myriad of other roadblocks to delivering exceptional customer experiences, such as siloed systems and fragmented customer data (37%), limited cross-department collaboration (34%) and outdated technology or processes (29%).

Digital customer experience can only be improved when everyone works together to achieve this common goal. Silos need to be broken down between departments, allowing for the better exchange of ideas, resources, and data.

Invest in tools, technology, and talent

The products that organizations invest in for DCX drive compelling websites, apps, and content; they also deliver the necessary data, analytics, and insights that ensure teams are delivering the right experiences and making the right decisions.

While technology investment may have dipped at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s coming back thanks in part to the need to commit to digital experiences. Current organizational investment priorities show a need for organizations to understand their customers’ new behavior patterns; 51% of survey respondents say analytics and dashboarding capabilities are key investment priorities.

At the same time, more definition around measurement and metrics is needed if organizations expect to be able to turn analytics into insights. Data silos, immature measurement practices, and a lack of expertise on the team are all challenges to getting the most from analytics and metrics. Going forward, organizations will need to devote time, energy, and people power to defining/establishing appropriate metrics, educating the team, and breaking down data silos.


The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has altered customer behavior in ways and volumes not previously seen. Organizations might have the tools they need to understand these new behaviors, but without a clear understanding of their new customer journey, they won’t be able to make the connection between customer experience and organizational outcomes.

Dig deeper: Download the full State of Digital Customer Experience Report for free here.

Tim Harnett is Senior Manager of Research and Content at CMSWire.