The Optimized Customer Experience that Creates Competitive Advantage

Posted by Partha DeSarkar

It’s a new era for the contact center.  The latest generation of communication channels, reinforced by today’s mobility and cloud computing, are helping customers share their experiences more easily than ever, leading to a significant increase in communication volume and complexity. This evolution has created new opportunity for brands with the right blend of creative thinking and initiative to adopt and try new approaches to traditional engagement.  Even traditional customer service now begins online more than half the time.

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In a typical customer journey today, customers:

  1. Start with a web search for a product, answer or help
  2. Compare results and product reviews from various companies
  3. Review their social network and online community of trusted advisors (friends and family)
  4. Complete their interactions with online self-service by making account changes, watching a video, or making a purchase

Unless the issue can’t be easily addressed online, then customers MIGHT:

  1. Contact the company with a call or chat, OR they “may” just move on to another company

On e-commerce sites, customers research products on the site and make the purchase. They contact the call center “only if” they have a post-purchase query or something goes wrong.

Web self-serve tools and social media platforms resolve queries early in the customer journey without human intervention and with lower customer effort.  This shift has placed traditional call centers behind the first line of web-based customer interaction.  Today’s contact center is an escalation desk (like the Apple Genius Bar) for more complex issues that customers simply can’t manage on their own... by the time customers contact the company, they are already quite knowledgeable about the products.

In this changing environment, how do we (customer experience professionals) ensure that customer service approaches meets the changing expectations of customers?

  • Enhance Your Voice-Based Services with Low Effort Non-Voice Self-Services - Interactive text and video chat, email, web page contact forms, demo videos, social media platforms, and responsive websites ensure that your customers can find the information they need in the fastest possible way. With a presence on multiple platforms, each platform has different capabilities and so, offers a different kind of value to the customer experience. Keep the customer experience easy to enhance effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
  • Offer Consistent and Simple Unified Customer Experiences - New technology offers advanced capabilities that enable rich engagement and experiences. Ensure consistent experiences across channels. The Unified Customer Experience model combined with customer journey mapping, web presence management, social media optimization, digital transformation, and brand positioning supports the customer lifecycle from the start. Regardless of channel, every consumer interaction should be speedy, accurate, empathetic, and effective. Bring integration and consistency to previously disconnected voice, chat, email, and web self-service. The multichannel approach to engagement, reduces operational costs while optimizing revenue.
  • Prepare New Training for New Forms of Engagement - According to Gartner, by 2020, 90% of companies will use social media to respond to customer service inquiries. Train agents to handle new and different technologies and platforms and help customers at much later stages of the customer journey compared to the past. Focus on building customer support content and collateral for each technology platform with tailored information for that stage of the customer journey. Use images and videos while engaging with customers. If a customer asks how to assemble a product, upload a demo video instead of convoluted text documents or voice calls.
  • Ensure Presence of the Human Touch - In these times of digital revolution and rapidly changing technology, customers sometimes still need to "speak to a real person". Whether it's to address highly detailed/complex questions, troubleshoot or walk through technical issues in real time, or simply to provide a phone option for those who are unable to access digital channels, voice solutions are still a critical part of the overall customer experience.  Think of a scenario where a customer has approached your brand with a problem and your customer service center hasn’t responded. Avoid negative brand impact by having skilled representatives respond to customers on every platform.  When the customer wants to contact live support they expect a knowledgeable and helpful response.  Be available and easy to do business with 24X7X365.

The best place to get started: customer journey mapping to plot your ideal customer experience, the one that balances customer investments with optimal loyalty and repeat customer spend.  Use the customer journey map process across every touch point to eliminate dissatisfiers and achieve the customer's goals as efficiently as possible. The result? A differentiated and optimized customer experience that sets your organization ahead of the pack.