Customers like options. They want to choose how to customize their products, services, and even the channels in which they interact with brands. To keep up, companies are scrambling to enable more customer experience channels for sales and service.
But simply turning on channels or technology isn’t enough. To offer customer experiences that are truly effortless, companies must develop a deep understanding of their customers’ unique journeys; successful ones then will use that knowledge to orchestrate interactions across any channel customers may choose.
Embracing an omnichannel strategy may seem like a big undertaking – indeed, making things effortless for customers often entails much hard work on the part of brands. But the benefits are well worth the effort. Here are four ways to get started:
1. Design effortless customer-centric journeys
Brands need to gain a clear view of what customers are experiencing before making decisions on new journeys. A good way to gain insights is to create a customer touchmap. A useful map will deconstruct unique journeys into discreet steps that illustrate key moments of customer truth, delight, and pain. With all this essential information in hand, learn what tools and technology are needed to fill in gaps to orchestrate and accelerate your future-state CX.
Journeys should begin with the customer and employ an outside-in approach. This will ensure the customer experience remains at the forefront. Brands can get better insights into customer behavior, preferences, and habits by integrating data silos that will offer a 360-degree view of customers. Based on that data, build an agile and insight-driven service delivery model.
Finally, empower both the customer and the employee through effortless design. The easier processes are, the more people – consumers and employees alike – will use them.
Customers want to interact with brands on their own terms. Companies that invest the time and resources into developing meaningful customer journeys will reap the benefits long term.
2. Automate and optimize the experience
Once brands get a strong understanding of what an effortless customer journey looks like, they must keep refining it to continually improve the experience. Automation should be a key to this process.
With so many options available, it may be tempting to adopt as much automation as possible. But simply bolting on new technology often results in a more disconnected and frustrating experience for customers.
Automation should be embraced, but only where it makes sense, adds value, and improves the experience. Find those places along the journey where automation will reduce effort, and where it can make it simple and easy for customers to have their needs met and for agents to do their jobs successfully.
As important as customer experience is, employee experience is equally critical, and automation can benefit the workforce as much as the consumer. Brands should apply easy customer self-service where it makes sense, but also enable and equip customer-facing associates with the tools they need to deliver effortless experiences as well.
A one-size-fits-approach likely won’t work when it comes to automation. It may make sense, for instance, to apply different service levels for different customer needs – such as a fast path to an associate for a high-level need. This will help ensure everyone’s need are met.
3. Extend the CX journey across the enterprise
Looking at the big picture is key. The customer has a relationship with an entire company, so the journey shouldn’t be confined to just the contact center. Encourage other customer-related business units like marketing, sales, finance, and others to collaborate on a holistic CX ecosystem. Successfully managing and scaling operations across your entire ecosystem drives governance, superior customer experiences and growth.
A truly holistic approach to CX needs buy-in from top-level leadership that trickles down through the entire organization. To ensure the vision is embraced across the board, consider assigning a cross-functional transformation officer who can oversee CX across multiple units. This will help keep the strategy unified and keep everyone moving toward a common goal.
Leaders, managers and employees alike should feel empowered to share their ideas. Encourage a collaborative, cohesive organization that focuses on the customer and a shared mission around delivering the best possible interactions.
4. Leverage cloud technology for nimble CX delivery
Cloud technology is a powerful tool when it comes to breaking down barriers to a successful omnichannel strategy. The cloud brings numerous advantages: it’s flexible, it costs less than on-premise contact center technology, and it can support customers from virtually anywhere, to name a few.
The real transformation, though, happens when brands are empowered to do more once they get their contact center onto the cloud. AI and automation tools built into cloud technology enhance and augment the customer and agent experiences in ways that simply aren’t possible on premise.
Before making the leap to the cloud, find a cloud contact center partner with technology expertise and CX thought leadership. It’s important to balance technology with human experience and interactions, and experts can help brands find that sweet spot.
With the right help and the right strategy, brands can develop a cloud strategy that leverages innovative, cloud-based technology to deliver effortless experiences. Cloud-based insights also can provide a font of information, and should be used to drive further internal and customer improvements.
Increasingly, consumers want to do business with the brands that know them the best and offer effortless interactions. Successful brands will be those that can deliver on those promises; they’ll be the ones getting repeat business and referrals.
A strong omnichannel CX strategy allows brands to anticipate customer needs, provide preemptive customer service that avoids any customer effort, and offer self-service options in a customer’s moment of need. Brands that embrace these strategies will offer a harmonious customer experience that can’t be easily replicated by competitors.