Recently, call centers across the globe have been re-imagining their operational focus to become “contact centers”.
This is likely due to the fact that with changes in technology, companies are realizing that the customer journey involves much more than just a single sales or customer service interaction on the phone. Especially with the rise of mobile communication, more channels are being used for customer contact.
To put this into perspective, customers can now connect on an average of 9 different channels.
Customer engagement is at an all time high because of the various modules of communication that are now available.
Forward thinking companies are looking at the overall customer journey that consists of multiple touch points. More importantly, by widening the scope of interaction channels beyond simply ‘answering the call’, companies can raise engagement levels to provide customers with seamless journeys. When a Customer Service Representative takes ownership of the interaction, a certain level of authenticity comes into play. Authenticity, in the form of transparency and empathy, can make all the difference in the world in regards to the customer experience and the journey that it defines.
What Exactly is a Customer Journey?
The phrase “Customer Journey” has not been around long, so one may find a wide range of different definitions.
The phrase has become synonymous with the similarly worded “Customer Experience.” Semantics aside, both phrases aim to describe the same purpose. The word experience, in regards to customer service, has been gaining traction for the past 15 years.
The focus on customer experience started with software companies and was then adapted by marketing professionals implementing an “experiential” approach to company/customer communication.
The Harvard Business Review best defines the customer experience as “the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand; not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.”
The customer journey (and/or experience) is not just a phone call. It’s not just a text chat. Nor is it just a video chat conversation. It’s a collection of every touchpoint throughout the customer’s relationship with a company.
The key takeaway here is this: the stronger the journey, the longer the journey. The length of the journey reflects itself in terms of repeat sales and loyalty.
What Factors Contribute to the Customer Journey?
There are several interactive concepts that can be implemented to drive customer engagement.
The good news is, when structured properly, these concepts can also propel employee engagement. It has been proven that employee engagement can have a positive effect on the overall customer experience.
Let’s take a look at some pieces that can be integrated to enhance the journey of the customer:
Provide a Killer Product Demo
Today’s customer is not wowed by fancy copywriting and industry spec-based jargon. They expect to see and feel how products work according to their specific needs.
A good demo is like a test drive with a new car. It allows the customer an opportunity to not just kick the tires of a product but to also experience the feel from the perspective of the end user. It also puts customers in a position to take ownership of a product. If the product performs well, then the customer experiences “FOMO” or “fear of missing out.”
This is especially true when marketing to B2B companies, as they will want to stay ahead of their competition with the latest and most effective solutions available to their clientele.
Build a Community of Brand Evangelists
Online forums have been around since the inception of the internet. Many customers, when searching for solutions for their needs, are more trusting of peers looking for similar solutions then they are of front facing company collateral.
By fostering an engaged community of satisfied customers, a company can deliver a trustworthy fountain of testimonials. These testimonials are unscripted and candid, leveraging a faith factor.
Provide a Suite of On Time Multi-Channel Communication Solutions
Some customers will be thrilled when provided with a chat based channel where there is no need to spend time in a queue waiting for a Customer Service Representative (CSR) to answer their call. Others will love the fact that they can see and interact with a live person .
There are some customers that will keep their journey going with a company because they can be guided through their online experiences.
By providing all of these options, companies can hit a much larger market segment than if they only communicated through phone calls or other singular solutions.
How Can Customer Service Representatives Enhance the Customer Experience?
As mentioned above, engaged employees lead to engaged customers. How do companies engage employees to a level that impacts their bottom line?
Gamification can create a measurable impact when it comes to employee engagement. A study conducted by Hense, Mandl, and Klevers found that gamification is an innovative approach to foster employee motivation.
Shep Hyken, a customer experience expert and New York Times bestselling author, states that customers appreciate quick and effective replies and solutions to all the problems they face during their workday or personal activities.
When a CSR is provided with up to date technology in the form of an omnichannel solutions suite, he or she can more efficiently resolve customer issues and questions.
What Are the Benefits of Providing a Quality Customer Experience?
Providing a seamless and efficient customer experience takes time, money, and focus. There are many initiatives that every company must focus on to keep business needs at the top of mind.
But why should companies direct valuable resources to create customer journey maps?
Let’s face it. Every industry is awash with competition these days. Overhead has been diminished because storefronts and point of sale portals can be initiated at a low level of entry.
What keeps customers coming back to the same service provider instead of searching for other options?
An engaging and effortless customer experience not only keeps current customers coming back for more of the journey, it also motivates them to share their satisfaction of the experience with other prospects.
Gone are the days of being able to satisfy customer needs with a phone call. Customers today want and deserve an agile and seamless journey. The best way to facilitate that journey is to provide a well rounded selection of communication channels that empower the customer to feel like they are more important than just the next call in the queue.