In our recent whitepaper with analysts Frost & Sullivan, we looked at the importance of a laser-like focus on customer needs when designing frictionless, omnichannel experiences. Those experiences require companies to combine data, passionate people, and operational excellence—all enabled by technology. In this blog, Simon Garabette and Claudia Pires take a look at each of these four elements and examine how the role they play in the customer journey.

The end-to-end customer experience can be the difference between a good product or service, and an exceptional one. Outstanding CX throughout the customer journey drives user retention, promotes loyalty and increases customer satisfaction metrics across the board.

Creating such a customer journey begins with capturing and understanding data to fully understand your customers and their needs. If brands are to succeed in the coming decade, they need to be continually analyzing and redesigning (when necessary) their customer journey(s).

The very first question anyone should ask is existential. What is the actual purpose of the customer journey? Is it part of a core and intentional interaction to support the products and services of the business? Or is it, in fact, failure demand, created either by a poorly-serviced upstream impact from the organization or its partner?

A well-managed business may be able to re-engineer its processes to remove failure demand, but legal, regulatory and other constraints might still create ‘perceived’ failure demand in the customer’s eyes.

Trying to see through a customer’s eyes and asking, ‘Why is someone having to participate in this journey?’ is a fundamental question we should always ask ourselves when commencing customer journey design.

In this blog we’re going to be making sure you’re always asking the right questions about your CX, before looking at how to use that information to improve the design of the customer journey.

Let’s begin with why hiring passionate, customer-obsessed people is so important.

Getting the right people in place for the customer journey

It might seem counterintuitive to suggest that the very first thing to think about when mapping your customer journey is your own people, but they are your customer satisfaction superpower. Hiring smart, customer-obsessed people who are passionate about what your brand represents is absolutely fundamental to making everything else work.

They’re also essential because designing a frictionless end-to-end customer experience needs multi-disciplinary teams empowered to bring together stakeholders from across an organization. They need to be experienced in a wide variety of areas like design and social science, product development and finance.

A successful team might prototype design the customer experience using clickable digital prototypes or simple role play, making it (relatively) simple to visualize where value is being added or lost. They might draw inspiration from other industries; it’s not uncommon for companies to take ideas and insight from brands and companies that appear – at first – entirely unrelated.

In addition, fostering an environment that is motivating to highly talented people increases engagement and improves the employee experience (EX) which is directly correlated with the CX.EX and CX are essentially two sides of the same coin.

Most importantly, multi-disciplinary and diverse teams, empowered by capable leadership, can break through silos in the business and collaborate. Omnichannel customer experience needs to be owned across the business, and not just be the narrow province of CX advisors and their teams.

Involving everyone across the business, from finance to marketing, in designing and developing the customer journey, also helps improve each channel by making it easier to store and communicate customer data (reviews, feedback, surveys) across multiple channels. These teams ensure there is oversight and visibility of the entire customer journey, making it easier to deliver optimal levels of customer care.

How to make sure you’re getting the right customer journey data

The next phase in improving the customer journey is to map the customer journey, listing all the touchpoints across it. That’s the roadmap which you then use to collect quantitative and qualitative data that you can use to highlight where (and what) you need to optimize to improve your CX.

Here are some of the questions you need to be asking, the answers to which help identify where there might be pain points in the customer journey.

  • What do your customers really desire from you? What’s the problem you’re helping them solve (with what you offer)? By consuming your product or service, where does it get them that they couldn’t otherwise get to?
  • What types of behavior are connected to the experience? What are the emotional states that customers exhibit before, during and after their customer journey with you?
  • What do customers think about your product, service, and the overall experience? Are your users engaging with your products’ key features that they need to get value?

Understanding that means drilling down into which features are getting the most and the least engagement. Product usage statistics can show you where users get frustrated in the journey, and are perhaps unable to move to the next step.

Capturing the data is only the start. Crucially, the important work comes in analyzing the information that’s been collected and creating actionable insights from what’s been learned. This wealth of customer data can then be used to create customer personas. With these insights gained into customer behavior, it’s possible to ensure the right online and offline channels are being used and optimized for the right demographic of customers.

Using data-driven research like this enables a business to understand its target market and the buying factors that influence purchase. Hopefully the mapping process should have helped a business identify pain points along the customer journey by spotting patterns, as well as helping clarify and perhaps articulate what people enjoy about the product or service.

How operational excellence makes the customer journey happen

So now you have detailed data-rich insight into your customers and how they behave, how do you make sure your business can take advantage? This is where operational excellence is key.

Customer demand for seamless omnichannel CX across multiple touchpoints is growing (rather than, for example, clunky hand-offs to different teams, or failure to be able to see customer data leading to customers having to repeat details issues to different CX teams).

Whether it’s live chat, phone or social, brands need to offer the channels that best suit their customers. That might mean employing CX teams who are skilled in handling multiple channels at once, for example.

A brand’s website should be at the heart of operations, and there are plenty of ways to make optimize the digital experience and smooth the customer journey. When visitors arrive at a site, sign-up should be as frictionless as possible, removing lengthy forms or long-winded verification processes. Instead, welcome pages are a good way to remind customers of the value proposition and encourage engagement.

Think too about how to personalize the onboarding experience based on the different customer journeys each visitor is on. This is where all the work done on personas can be so powerful. Checklists are a good way to get site visitors to engage and experience value, while nudging them ever-closer to calls to action.

All enabled by technology that means you’re prepared for anything

To be able to create and manage seamless omnichannel customer engagement, it’s absolutely essential to have the right technology stack: one which can help you collect and analyze the right customer data, identify and target prospects and ultimately convert them into customers, with centralized data that’s visible across the business.

Your technology platform also needs to be robust enough to be able to provide uninterrupted service that can handle surges in demand just as well as major disruptions like cyber-attacks, hardware failures or even natural disasters. These days customers expect – and treat – uninterrupted service as a hygiene factor, and failure to deliver can have dire consequences for a brand’s reputation.

A technology platform must be able to scale demand at a moment’s notice, a feat which can be really challenging (and expensive) to deliver in-house, due to the additional resource it requires. This is where outsourcing to providers who understand your business can provide a more affordable and flexible solution, one which can match real-time spikes in demand.

An outsourcing partner can also ensure your business is benefitting from the latest cutting-edge technology. That might be using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide personalized support by anticipating customers needs and speeding up resolution times.

It could be empowering customers to fix problems on their own, quickly and simply, through enhanced, intuitive self-serve options like chatbots, IVRs (Interactive Voice Response) and virtual assistants that can respond to a host of questions.

There is plenty to consider when optimizing customer journeys but hopefully this blog has given you some insights into your own business and customers. If you’d like to talk about how a partner could help you make your end-to-end customer journey exceptional, or you’d like to talk about how you can increase customer retention and satisfaction, then get in touch.

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