Nowadays, the customer experience (CX) is a lot like an orchestra. Just as a conductor orchestrates the timing and rhythm of various instruments to create a harmonious symphony, organizations need to synchronize all channels and touchpoints to deliver a seamless customer journey.
From social media and email to voice calls, chat and text, consumers are interacting with brands in different ways. That means businesses need to manage many omnichannel journeys simultaneously.
Not so much. According to Forrester research, CX quality fell for 19% of brands in 2022 — the biggest proportion of brands to drop in one year since the survey began.
Forrester says this decrease is attributable to the waning focus on customer-centricity. In fact, just 3% of U.S. companies are “customer obsessed.” That’s like being a conductor who doesn’t care about the show’s audience. Simply put, it doesn’t add up.
The truth is CX is more important today than ever before, but it’s also increasingly difficult to manage. Why? Because of the challenges presented by creating a connected customer experience.
What is a connected customer experience?
A connected customer experience delivers smart, contextual interactions across all touchpoints in the customer’s journey. The idea is to provide a consistent experience across the board, no matter how or why a customer reaches out to the brand. Whether it be a company’s website or its contact center, modern consumers want a cohesive experience from start to finish.
By contrast, a disconnected CX inherently generates friction as consumers transition from one interaction to another, and one department to another. Such roadblocks are no longer acceptable in the minds of consumers. Consider the following statistics:
• In its State of the Connected Customer report, Salesforce found that 85% of consumers expect consistency when interacting with teams across departments. That said, 60% say they don’t receive the cohesion they’re looking for.
• Connected customer experiences increase loyalty. The same report found that 83% of customers are more loyal to organizations that deliver consistent experiences across departments. Additionally, 94% say they’re more likely to purchase again from a business that provides a positive service experience.
• Disconnectedness frustrates today’s consumers, leading to costly churn. This is significant given that the cost of acquiring a new customer is typically four to five times that of retaining a current one.
Five ways to deliver a connected experience
Here are five strategies that can be used to offer a more connected customer experience:
• Improve customer data accessibility: Truly optimizing the customer experience requires a holistic view of consumers’ wants, needs and evolving expectations. In other words, it all boils down to understanding customer data.
Without data, it’s impossible to connect the dots and carry information over from one interaction to the next. The challenge is that many enterprise data sources are siloed, preventing teams from accessing the information they need when they need it. Organizations need connected data sources to give departments a single source of truth about individual customers and their specific needs.
One way to achieve this is to deploy a solution with a single dashboard to view customer interactions. That way, data is easy to access for everyone on the team.
• Obtain complete company alignment: Connected experiences start with a connected vision. In simpler terms, everybody within the organization should have a collective understanding of your CX goals.
According to recent research from Forbes, 76% of executives agree that technology for seamless collaboration across departments is crucial for a connected customer experience. Even more telling: Only 22% of companies have a dedicated executive for customer experience, and 39% report having a part-time leader of CX.
But when all departments take ownership of CX they actively share data, ideas and insights that can bridge the gap between their respective lines of business.
• Build personalized customer journeys: Once customer data flows frictionlessly and your teams are aligned on common goals, you can start tailoring CX and fostering connectedness. One way to do this is by personalizing interactions whenever possible.
Research shows that 66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs. By using data, you can focus on helping customers reach their specific goals at every touchpoint.
For example, certain contact center solutions utilize real-time analytics of both human and digital interactions. This allows companies to identify trends and solve the most relevant issues for their customers. Plus, a centralized desktop view for agents, showing all previous customer interactions across channels, gives them the ability to offer contextual resolutions to customer issues. Tools like this enable proactive customer service that yields long-term results.
• Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to your advantage: More consumers are looking for fast, convenient and direct resolutions. AI tools like self-service chatbots or interactive voice response (IVR) systems offer customers a way to access 24/7 support at a moment’s notice.
What’s great about these tools is that they use customer data to deliver the same consistent experience that someone would receive in person or over the phone. Likewise, contact center agents can easily elevate the inquiry to a call while retaining all the same information. Notably, self-service options are increasingly popular. Studies show more customers are using chatbots and self-service account portals today than in 2020.
• Use an omnichannel solution: Omnichannel tools, such as a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution, help customers engage with brands no matter their preferred channel of communication. From Instagram to Google Business to the entire communication stack, businesses can be exactly where their customers are to deliver a positive experience at every interaction.
With an omnichannel CCaaS solution you can gather interaction data across multiple channels to glean more granular insights into the customer experience to quickly help consumers arrive at more positive outcomes no matter the circumstances.
Courtenay Godshall is product marketing leader, Webex customer experience, at Cisco.