What are the Components of an Omnichannel Customer Journey?
A true omnichannel customer journey closes the gaps between channels by providing customers with a unified experience across all touchpoints. To fine-tune your customer experience, you have to first define how channels will be used, who will manage them, and how their success will be measured. A best practice before this step is to map your customer journey so you have a sense of where each channel can best be leveraged to optimize the overall customer experience. The intention of migrating to a truly omnichannel service offering is to unify multiple touchpoints into a single, seamless journey.
It sounds easy enough, but all too often businesses fail to meet customer expectations in a uniform way across channels because they’re unaware of what the customer is actually looking for, or worse, what they’re experiencing. So how do you capture what the customer wants? More often than not, journey mapping becomes an exercise in adding channels, without consideration for the entire experience. In this ultimate guide, we’ll consider how contact centers can model a perfectly blended omnichannel customer journey. But first, let’s take a closer look at what an ideal omnichannel customer journey actually looks like.
Today, a customer journey that happens on a single device in a single session is a rarity. Instead, it’s standard practice for the customer to start and stop their research multiple times over the course of many days or weeks before making a purchasing decision, bouncing back and forth between several different devices along the way.
A brand with an omnichannel customer journey makes this a harmonious experience that brings all available channels together. A Google search might lead the user to a website landing page, which is followed up with a tailored Facebook ad, which leads to a live chat interaction, which is followed up with a sales email and finally, a purchase. This is just one example of thousands of the possible combinations that could unfold in an omnichannel customer experience.
The scenario above might sound like a complex path to checkout, but when executed correctly it’s actually seamless–that’s what makes it satisfying to the customer. Today’s consumer wants their questions answered and doubts addressed along their way to making a purchase regardless of the device or channel they’re using, and they don’t want to have to repeat the same steps more than once. An omnichannel customer journey makes that possible.
By refining this journey and crafting an omnichannel marketing strategy that aligns with it, companies can make the consideration and purchasing experience as smooth as possible for the consumer. In the process, it also creates a highly effective sales funnel that brings in a continuous flow of new leads, who are delighted by the simple experience and happily convert to customers. The result is stronger engagement on every channel, more purchases, and greater ROI on marketing investments.
Every channel is connected by the same purpose
With every customer interaction, the sole objective is to make lasting connections with customers that will keep coming back. But no single customer journey is linear, and their interactions with each channel shouldn’t happen in a silo. Because customers tend to bounce back and forth between channels, omnichannel customer service strategies should be designed with an end-to-end approach in mind.
That is to say, the introduction of digital channels shouldn’t be at the expense of voice or email. Similarly, adding a new digital channel doesn’t mean the ability to connect with a live agent goes away. The most successful omnichannel engagement strategies are those that offer care holistically while honing in on an individual’s channel of choice.
Take Amazon for example. Like many companies, the tech giant implemented self-service and e-care capabilities across their website and mobile apps but saw an increase in customer outreach and an uptick in unresolved issues. To remediate, Amazon opted for a more blended strategy. Now they direct customers toward digital channels as a front line defense while also offering live interactions online and by phone in addition to company-initiated contact. Boom! People feel taken care of. Bezos is a gazillionaire.
Source: Harvard Business School research
In the figure above, Harvard researchers depicted the inverse relationship between digital channel adoption and contact rates. Many businesses assumed that simply stitching in web chat or SMS would be a catch-all for the digital customer’s needs. However, in the graph, we see an increase in the number of interactions as well as a spike in the cost per interaction.
This is because these companies weren’t thinking of the customer journey as a multi-device, multichannel experience. Instead, they saw it as one-off and finite rather than a flexible handoff between various touchpoints. As a result, the customer experiences took place in isolation, resulting in longer call times and multiple escalations from department to department.
This underscores how an omnichannel business strategy can actually stand up to the complexity of the modern customer journey. Because the flow of customer data can move freely back and forth on an omnichannel platform, contextual information from all channels can be accessed at any time as well as at any point in the journey.
ICMI research found that 74% of customers are using three or more channels to access customer service and almost 86% of today’s call centers are multichannel. The personalized journey is what customers value most. A couple of sobering statistics show where the weak spots are in the multichannel experience:
- 56% of consumers have to re-explain an issue when speaking to customer service
- When asked what the most frustrating aspect of customer service is 22% of respondents said having to repeat or provide information multiple times.
Customer information is centralized for intelligent experiences
Transforming your contact center operation into an immersive omnichannel journey facilitates the hollowing four strategic business objectives:
- Meet the rising complexity of service issues
- Match consumer sophistication
- Provide an excellent customer experience
- Manage operational costs
Comparatively, companies are still struggling to adopt the digital channels customers demand while maintaining an environment that’s cohesive, intelligent, and personalized to consumer-specific engagement needs. Our own 2019 Contact Center Survey Report found that establishing a seamless omnichannel experience is the number one challenge to evolving engagement.
So what’s the blocker? A lack of a centralized data foundation to start. Interestingly, despite being in an era of growing concerns around data security, a recent study showed that 61% of Americans are willing to share personal data for more customized communications. Many contact centers are missing the data infrastructure layer that links contextual history across channels. This deeply embedded structural issue keeps them from delivering ideal journeys.
It’s clear that omnichannel customer journeys begin by offering the Holy Grail of engagement: a unified view of the customer. With an all-in-one omnichannel platform, all key customer attributes and interaction history is stored across every channel and application in a unified model. True omnichannel centralizes and standardizes the disparate data sources into consolidated customer profiles. These profiles enhance the customer journey at every stage by bridging the gap between online and offline touchpoints in real-time.
In the same LiveVox Contact Center Survey from earlier this year, we asked hundreds of contact center leaders what their strategic initiatives, investment plans, and customer experience values were. We found that these were the biggest challenges to adopting and managing omnichannel engagement:
• Establishing a seamless multichannel experience – 45%
• Integration with existing channels/systems – 44%
• Cross-channel reporting – 22%
• Multichannel consent management – 9%
Customers want to feel like their needs are being met in a dynamic way. Businesses want to offer multichannel service at cost and to scale. Omnichannel platforms with built-in consent mechanisms, business intelligence, and a unified customer data foundation can help to offer smart and anticipatory service without a prohibitive TCO.
Agents are empowered to do their jobs well
The 2018 Microsoft Global Customer Service Survey Report found that 66% of respondents say they actively use 3 or more channels. As customers jump from channel to channel, especially during the course of a single service inquiry, contact center agents need to be armed with relevant information if they want to consistently get to a first-time resolution.
A whopping 76% among that same global group stated they expect call center agents to know their contact, product, and service information.
Omnichannel platforms built over a unified data layer can transform the collection of unique customer interactions into a single engagement experience. But channels are just one piece of the omnichannel puzzle. A critical enabler underpinning superb customer journeys is an informed and well-trained workforce, featuring multi-skilled agents and best-of-breed business intelligence.
Continually monitoring, evaluating, and improving service quality and performance is critical to success. In our survey, we found that quality management and agent scheduling are capabilities that contact center leaders feel create the most value for an operation. By utilizing native business intelligence capabilities, managers are equipped to pinpoint and scale best practices with multichannel agent scorecards that track agent performance. This creates a continuous feedback loop that helps identify areas of success and improvement. Filter in reporting and now critical insights can be surfaced and distributed across departments for optimal collaboration.
To deliver memorable customer experiences seamless, personalized journeys are rapidly becoming a must-have, not a nice to have. The sheer volume and wealth of data that an omnichannel call center generates is both a benefit and a burden. Harnessed properly, data can have near unlimited positive benefits for the customer experience. However, the data is only useful so far as it’s integrated across all systems and is available company-wide.
How Customer Journeys Are Helpful
Mapping customer journeys benefits both the organization and the customer in a number of ways.
Build trust and loyalty
Customers increasingly want to spend money with brands they trust, but trust isn’t gained overnight. It must be earned over time. Customer journeys help build trust in a strategic, predictable way. Once a prospect becomes a customer, continuing the journey after the initial purchase helps win their long-term loyalty and boost customer retention.
Understand emotions of potential customers
The most effective sales messages speak directly to the customer’s pain points. A customer journey helps you understand what those pain points are and how they motivate every step in the purchasing process. What problem, for example, makes the user initially start researching products in your category? What emotions drive them to finally pull the trigger on a purchase? When you understand your audience in this way, you can create more effective communications that drive more sales.
Identify service gaps
Service gaps include dropoff points where users disappear from the sales funnel and disconnects that occur from one channel to the next. These gaps directly translate to money left on the table. Mapping the customer journey helps you identify and remedy these gaps so you can close the associated revenue leaks.
Reduce costs and increase sales
When every part of the customer journey is optimized, there’s less friction detracting from your overall goals of growing revenue and building lifetime value. Every one of your dollars and resources goes further. Mapping the customer journey allows you to use data to drive your marketing efforts, rather than guessing or “following your gut” about which efforts drive the best results. Instead, you can ensure you’re allocating money, labor, and resources where they make the biggest impact.
Higher customer and agent satisfaction
When the customer journey is a seamless one, it’s easier for everyone–customers and agents. Customers are happy because their experience is a smooth one where any issues are resolved quickly, while agents are more satisfied because it’s easier to do their jobs.
LiveVox is a leading provider of enterprise cloud contact center solutions, managing more than 14+ billion interactions a year across a multichannel environment. With over 15 years of pure cloud expertise, we empower contact center leaders to drive effective engagement strategies on the consumer’s channel of choice. Our leading-edge risk mitigation and security capabilities help clients quickly adapt to a changing business environment. With new features released quarterly, LiveVox remains at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. Supported by over 450 employees and rapidly growing, we are headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Atlanta, Denver, Bangalore, and Colombia. To learn more, schedule a demo today.