“Alexa, order more laundry detergent please.” That’s all it takes to cross something off my to-do list now. And last week, I sent a couple of emails about a pair of shoes that were out of stock, and within a few days, they arrived on my front step. As customers today, we evaluate every step of our journey with a company. With a phone in my hand, I want to walk every step of that journey. Digitalization of an experience is essential in our increasingly technological world. And, if there’s any blip along the way, we notice.
In research out of Salesforce, they found more than half (56%) of customers actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies. Technology, of course, plays a significant role in those innovations. Some 59% of customers say companies need cutting-edge digital experiences to keep their business. And another 70% say connected processes are important to stay loyal. Customers want their experiences served up fast, efficient, and unified. They want a holistic journey with a brand.
Just think of when there’s an outage on our favorite streaming websites like Netflix or Hulu. Or, when Google Calendar is down for the afternoon. Some offices pack up shop and go home. The internet explodes with criticism, and we demand fast repair if there’s any break in a digital service. Those are some pretty high expectations for the rest of the service world to meet.
More than ever before, a smooth digital experience is important for customer service. To deliver that kind of service in a contact center, it takes essential technological changes, foundational alignment, and a digital strategy in your customer journey.
A Digital Customer Journey
Hold on, when a brand or company says they have a customer journey, what does that even mean? The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. It’s the choices your customers make as they walk with your brand. Maybe they see an ad on Facebook, then shoot out an email to gather more info, then click through your FAQ page. This is their path on the customer journey. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer. In order to keep your customer journey cohesive, it’s important to map out a strategy for what kind of experience you want to deliver. Without a map, your customers get lost in the inconsistency of your service.
But no matter the industry, customers today live digitally. Marketing, sales, customer service – every aspect of your contact with a customer likely includes some kind of digital medium. Whether it’s by email, phone, video conference, etc., your relationship with customers is impacted by technology. Your customers create their own journeys as they research, select, buy and consume products and services. And as a company, the technology you use and the strategy you create either supports that journey or derails it.
Let’s take a look at how building a cohesive and strong digital customer journey can exceed your customer’s experience with your service.
Wowing your customers with digital upgrades
1. Greater Personalization
Let’s get personal. Customers expect your company to meet them on a personal level. They want you to remember their name, their payment information, the tracking number for their shipment, and the name of the first street they lived on as a child. Really, though, they expect you to be informed of any interaction you’ve ever had with them. I’m not kidding.
Train contact center agents from the get-go to document each interaction they have with a customer. You get rich records of conversations and learn so much about common issues your customers face. Include customer surveys after every interaction to get the truth about how your customers feel. This helps you constantly learn, makes your product better, and lets you hone in on your audience.
Even in this era of big data and widespread digitization of customer information, some companies still lack a 360-degree view of the people who buy their products and services. Customers tell you about themselves in everything they do. How do they communicate with you? What are the common complaints and praises? Where are the areas of confusion? How old are the people who are reaching out to you?
Find these common themes to identify details about your customers, so you deliver a unique experience for each person.
2. More convenience
What’s the best thing about all our tech tools? Convenience. Like I said earlier, the ease of ordering my cleaning supplies and getting them delivered the next day makes it hard to choose to go out to the store myself. I love the ease of opening my phone, selecting an app, and live chatting with a customer service rep right there in the palm of my hand. A digital customer journey makes your customers’ lives more convenient.
So, how convenient are your customer interactions? Are your customers trapped in a maze of IVR when they call you? Are they able to reach you through your website with just a click? What hours do you offer service? How quickly do you respond to requests? Your user experience on your website, through an app, or even through your IVR affects whether your customers remain loyal to you.
Shift your efficiencies to meet customer expectations. More companies are turning to customer support software with built in collaboration tools. This way, when a subject expert is needed, they can review all past communication in one place to learn about the issue quickly. No customer likes repeating information, and software improves the efficiency of your team so they can meet expectations.
Collaboration breaks down silos between departments and teams to make the customer journey even more seamless. Customers only care about their own fluid experience when doing business with you. So if there are obvious breaks interdepartmentally, it will frustrate your customers.
3. Self-service tools
Prioritizing self-service tools for your customers simplifies your agents’ lives and frees them up to handle the tough problems with customers. They also train your customers to use your service and product better, and on their own terms.
Squarespace is one company that does self-service well. When you go to make a website, help tools are available at the click of a button so you don’t even have to deal with the hassle of an email or phone call to headquarters. Automation can make a huge difference in self-service, too. Bots can bear the weight of easy questions and vet the simple tasks in your contact center.
Plus, automation uses intelligent data and rules (picked by you!) to personalize your customer experiences.
Self-service tools are typically the first step customers take when confronted with a problem. Invest in updated and convenient self-service options to reduce stress in your contact center and in your customers’ experience.
4. Unified and seamless channels
An omnichannel customer experience is made up of individual customer touchpoints, over a variety of channels that seamlessly connect. This allows customers to pick up where they left off on one channel and continue the experience on another, all with only a few keystrokes or button punches.
Your customers tweet at a company to get info on a product. They direct message you on Instagram to get help with an order. And they chat you for a quick fix. On every medium, your customers want to be remembered and cared for. And they don’t want to rehash their issues every time they call in.
Work with your software vendors to build out a system that supports omnichannel communications, and make sure all your channels integrate with your customer data. You need systems that help you manage requests coming from all different directions, so you can create a holistic narrative for each customer who reaches out to you.
Mckinsey reported, however, that regardless of increasing digitalization, customers still favor live agents for complex requests. They share that in a British Telecommunications survey, 52% of respondents wanted to speak to a live agent when facing a crisis and needing a solution to a problem. So, prioritize your agents in your omnichannel strategy. It’s important that in addition to automation and strong self service, your agents are well-equipped and well-trained to answer customer inquiries on every channel available.
5. Engagement opportunities
Constructing a digital customer journey opens the door to a lot of possibilities. Customer engagement is a little different from customer experience, although they’re intertwined. Customer engagement is the ongoing interactions that occur between a company and customer. It is how your company builds a personal relationship with your customers. Although engagement is often perceived as a task under the marketing umbrella, delivering good customer service leads to greater engagement.
Your contact center agents shouldn’t only put out fires with customers. They have the unique opportunity to actively build relationships with existing customers. They have a platform to build loyalty and to make customers feel empowered and known. Providing a high-quality customer experience is an important component in your customer engagement strategy.
Whether it’s through email blasts or personal outreach to a customer on Instagram, your agents can go out of their way to digitally reach your current customers. Imagine if you got a personal email from a customer service rep at a company you just purchased something from. Maybe they want you to know they’re there to help, or they direct you towards self-service tools they have. This would make you feel special!
Customers will feel valued before they even realize they have a question or problem. Having a digital customer journey helps you build in quick and easy methods to preemptively reach out to customers, so your customers get a full-lifecycle experience with your brand.
Remember who drives the journey
Digital tools make your customer’s journey with your brand more convenient, smooth, and engaging. They help you exceed the service expectations of your customers, so they have a customer experience beyond what they imagined. That’s all good. But don’t forget who drives the digital journey.
The customer lifecycle needs to be holistic, giving equal attention to the way digital and non-digital experiences complement each other. Your customers will see straight through the digital experience if the people behind it aren’t doing their job well because they aren’t supported in their roles.
Don’t neglect the power of human insight when you’re creating a customer journey. Remember the agents behind the digital tools. Only through human insight can companies connect the dots between what customers think, feel, say and do.
As CX expert Janelle Estes articulated in an article, “Digital transformation isn’t the driver, it’s the vehicle.”
Hiring the right drivers to deliver your digital customer journey can be tricky. As customer expectations and your customer journey grows more digital, it’s essential that your agents can keep up.
Check out our post highlighting some skills your modern agent need to succeed.
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