The quote first attributed to the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu more than 2,500 years ago more than applies today in terms of customer experience: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” With a growing number of digital channels and evolving expectations, customer journeys are growing increasingly complex. To drive successful outcomes, you must carefully examine and optimize the journey every step of the way—from the first interaction through the entire customer lifecycle.
Move beyond random interactions
Digital customers create their own journeys as they research, select, buy and consume products and services. These journeys frequently occur across multiple touchpoints over time as customers move forward using their preferred channels.
Channel switching represents part of this new reality. With the rise of so many communication options, customers want to use the channel that suits them at any moment in time. Yet most companies fall short delivering this level of engagement. According to the Genesys State of Customer Experience report, fewer than 30 percent of companies track their customers’ channel preferences.
Journeys become even more random and tough to grasp when touchpoints overlap siloed departments and business systems, and when there’s no visibility into journeys across channels. Outdated, voice-centric contact center systems simply weren’t designed to support the growing number of consumer-facing technologies. To keep pace with customer expectations, many companies have added new channels as free-standing engagement silos. This results in increasingly fragmented engagement: frustrating for customers and costly for companies.
As customers and their devices integrate and connect via the web, self-service and mobile apps, contact center systems and processes must seamlessly unite to support customers on these new touchpoints. In other words, digital disruption puts the customer experience front and center. It creates the need for a customer engagement solution that orchestrates seamless, omnichannel customer journeys that build lasting relationships.
This requires an outside-in approach that places the customer at the center of the business strategy. Companies that gain recognition for their customer experience take an iterative, disciplined approach as they assess and optimize customer journeys. And this begins with the process of journey mapping.
Map data-driven customer journeys
To put the outside-in approach into action, you must understand every aspect of the customer’s buying cycle. This likely begins on a website and continues long after they place an order. Through journey mapping, all needs, perceptions and touchpoints are documented for each step toward the customer’s journey goal. This can be done by persona, and the map used to design customer-centric processes for channel engagement—building a foundation to optimize overall customer experience.
The most successful journey maps are data-driven, sourced from customers and direct research. This includes web analytics, customer interviews and observation. Ultimately, the journey mapping serves to find flaws, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement in current processes. It also creates alignment across the enterprise, while driving customer-centric change and focus from disjointed, misinformed teams.
Identify which journeys matter most
As digital channels and touchpoints multiply, so does the complexity of customer journeys. Thus it’s challenging to determine which customer journeys to map. Some are obvious because of their known problems. But it’s important to carefully examine the data to ensure journeys align with long-term strategic goals. From there, you can determine which journeys matter most to customers and present the biggest opportunities to improve their experience.
When determining a starting point, you’ll also want to factor in the following:
customer satisfaction, and
other key performance indicator-based benefit drivers.
Once it becomes clear which journeys to focus on, start the necessary research and discovery to guide the customer experience design process. Be sure to:
Identify business priorities and opportunities to improve the customer experience.
Compile research via observation, contextual interviews and ethnography.
Define user needs and improvements based on the research.
Optimize the journey based on goals, requirements, cost to implement and value created.
Successful journey design includes cross-touchpoint activities, such as moving from self-service to assisted-service; the use of multiple channels within each touchpoint, including support for multimodal interactions; and the use of proactive notifications such as reminders and status updates. These all shape customer behavior, reduce customer effort and improve operational efficiency.
Journey maps identify problems but they don’t solve them. You must take actionable steps to improve customer experience. Begin by addressing the low-hanging fruit; for example, remove unnecessary or redundant steps in existing journeys and improve easily correctable inefficiencies. These improvements often eliminate some of the most painful problems uncovered by the journey-mapping exercise—and drive value that justifies further structural journey optimizations.
Support all channels and touchpoints with a customer experience platform
Routing is instrumental to deliver the personalized, omnichannel experience customers expect. Yet most legacy contact center systems can’t support this engagement level. One of the most-effective tactics to address the broader challenge of fragmented customer journeys is to switch to an open, stable and proven customer experience platform: one that supports all channels and touchpoints with true omnichannel routing.
Take the next steps with predictive routing
The next stage to create a seamless, smooth customer experience is to use predictive routing to drive optimal journeys through the use of AI and machine learning. Predictive routing uses these innovations to mine data and create the best customer-to-destination match. For interactions that route to a representative, the model looks at all available options and assigns a score to each representative based on the desired business outcome.
Predictive routing also uses self-service to identify which use cases and customer types it serves best. As more interactions are processed, the system analyzes historical data and context to predict outcomes automatically. Using AI to match customers to the best resource at the right stage of their journey improves customer satisfaction and loyalty, even as it optimizes operations. Now: Imagine the journey of a thousand miles and countless customers that begins with you a step ahead.
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