Think back to a bad customer experience that you’ve had. We all have a story (or multiple). Some involve a rude agent who couldn’t locate the correct information. Others are a wild goose chase about trying to get a refund. Whatever your story, there’s probably a common underlying theme: a disjointed customer journey.
And if you’re thinking, what does a disjointed customer journey have to do with a rude agent?, think again. Everything in the customer experience is connected. Therefore, approaching any effort to improve the customer experience should take into account its holistic nature.
While every business is different and will need to understand it’s unique customer experience characteristics, we’ve put together four best practices to follow to help you understand the interconnectedness of the project, and ultimately avoid a disjointed customer journey.
Understand the difference between multi-channel, omni-channel, and opti-channel.
Multi-channel is a channel strategy where multiple, separate channels are offered for customers, without the ability to pass context from one channel to another. The era of multiple channels leads to many companies adding adjunct channels to their service operations, without understanding the frustration that customers felt when they would get different qualities of service on different channels.
Omnichannel was a major step up from multi-channel. It enabled a more cohesive approach by offering context to be able to be transferred between channels. In recent years, omnichannel has become a market essential for all channel technologies.
But there’s an approach beyond omnichannel that brings customer experience to the next level, and takes away the channel war, or the race to simply have as many channels as possible without any thought to the market that they are serving.
This next approach is called opti-channel. Opti-channel has all the capabilities of omnichannel, but uses further evaluation and technology to better understand which channels to optimize. It’s not saying that less channels is better (although sometimes it is!), but allows customers to engage with the most convenient channel for them.
For example, many companies hopped on the chatbot bandwagon by adding website chats. While these may be great for some businesses, a business who’s market prefers the phone may be better off simply investing more in it’s voice channel.
Evaluate Bottom-Up, Strategize Top-Down.
Who knows your customers best within your organization? Chances are, it’s not the leaders up top. Now don’t get us wrong, C-level executives know the customers, that’s their job. They have the big picture view. But they aren’t hearing their problems and pain points day in and day out.
We suggest starting customer journey evaluation at the source, with the people who speak with your customers every single day: your agents. If you’re looking to learn if your customer journey is disjointed, this is the place to do it. Agents will have insights beyond what the boardroom can offer.
However, when it comes to strategy, it needs to be decided from the top. The interconnectedness of the customer journey requires that initiatives spread cohesively across all departments, as there are multiple departments that are involved in the customer journey. Different departments will have different objectives, so it’s best to have an overarching role or group responsible to represent the concerns and goals of each.
Brand is important at every step.
Businesses are increasingly understanding the importance of extending branding beyond the marketing department. When it comes to the customer journey, customers can’t differentiate which touchpoint is owned by which department. Therefore, it’s important to create a cohesive brand voice and tone throughout the entire experience to make it feel cohesive, united, and keep them coming back time and time again.
How can this go wrong? Well imagine if your brand has a friendly and fun voice in all marketing efforts, but sounds robotic and boring in the contact center. Chances are, despite the brand voice from marketing, the customer will walk away with a bad perception of the brand. To avoid this, work cross-functionally to ensure that branding is consistent from department to department. For example, if your contact center has a virtual assistant, ensure the voice of the system matches the brand voice and tone.
Customer Experience depends on Agent Experience
Simply put, agent effort translates to customer effort. So if agents are not prepared with integrated backend systems or are using outdated CRM technology to assist customers, it’s going to affect the customer experience. I’m sure we’ve all had experiences where we were transferred to multiple departments because no one could solve a query. Conversational AI technology can help by providing agent assist which prompts information so that agents can focus more on the customer and less on digging through systems.
A disjointed customer journey can have grave impacts on sales and customer retention. It’s important to evaluate, strategize, and ultimately implement technology that supports the customer experience from a holistic viewpoint. To learn more about this topic, check out our eBook.