In my previous post, I talked about the difficulty in looking at one simple customer journey: the purchase of a product or service. One of the most important things that organizations need to do, in that context, is to facilitate communication between different departments in the organization.
Such communication allows the different customer-facing systems to work together in harmony to create a unified customer journey, even when a journey includes web search, social media, a mobile app, chat, IVR, and a live agent. It’s not unusual for one customer journey to integrate all of those elements, so the organization needs a way to ensure that those departments are working in harmony.
In this blog post, we ask: “What is the customer experience?” Given that one journey can be so complex, what about the entire myriad of customer journeys? How can the Customer Experience Officer even know what falls under his or her responsibility? Coordinating all the different aspects of the customer journey can be a daunting task. We won’t cover it all in this blog post, but we can at least start with understanding some of the issues that need to be addressed, and how to look at the source of the problems.
The best customer journeys share some characteristics:
- The customer’s time is honored. Transactions are completed in the minimum amount of time, service is immediate, and the customer does not need to “try again” or repeat information.
- When a customer interacts with an organization or speaks to a representative, the organization knows who the customer is, their history in dealing with the company, and their common transactions.
- The system anticipates what a customer needs and offers service beyond the immediate demands, or in advance of a problem.
The problems with identifying the customer experience increase with the rapidly changing technology available to customers. Interactions with customers use a variety of technology in each transaction. Today, customers expect to get verification by email or text, or both. Yet, integrating all of these systems requires excellent inter-departmental communication. With security and compliance growing in importance, another layer of technology is required for all systems.
Interoperability between vendors is essential. Within customer-facing system ecosystems, a myriad of vendors work together to help customers choose compatible systems and to ease the integration efforts. However, as each vendor continues to raise the bar, the operating systems and underlying platforms are constantly changing independent of one another.
Cloud-based solutions often make compatibility easier, as do unified dashboards and REST APIs for integration. Using cloud-based solutions is often the most expedient, because it means that the service is provided independent of the underlying technology, and the cost of maintaining the systems is taken off of your hands.
Typically, the place where the vendors collide is around the agent desktop. While you may want to integrate different vendors for IVR, call recording, and CRM, you need to make sure that everything will work smoothly together. Because decisions about the backend systems may not always be in the hands of one department, communication between the departments is an essential part of implementation for the optimal customer experience.
Ultimately, what unifies the customer experience is what the customer actually experiences. Therefore, it’s essential to have a testing and monitoring system that actually experiences your organization in the same way the customer does. At Cyara, we’ve created a system that simply simulates the actual users as they call, mail, or interact with your contact centers in a variety of ways. By simulating a large number of different customer journeys, the outside-in approach allows you to monitor and test exactly what is going on for the customer. While the internal issues still need to be resolved, the advantage of the outside-in approach is that it truly reflects your customer experience. Every symptom that the customer experiences points to the precise place where you need to improve the system, ultimately providing a unified approach.
The companies that focus on customer experience ultimately benefit. According to Gartner, 91% of companies believe they will be competing primarily on the basis of customer experience by 2018. By taking a holistic view of the customer experience, companies can establish and maintain leadership moving forward.