How to Deliver Better Experiences Every Time
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Today’s customer experience (CX) has come a long way from the days of simple meet-and-greet customer service. Technological advancements have brought us to a point where someone can experience the entire customer journey — from discovering a product to the point of sale — without ever setting foot in a brick-and-mortar store or talking to a real person.
While this digital advancement has brought about great opportunities, it’s also made things inherently more complex on the business side, as well as raised customer expectation. So, in order to thrive in today’s digital environment, businesses must both understand the details of the digital customer experience and see how they can adopt the right technology to meet this challenge.
What Is the Digital Customer Experience?
Quite simply, the digital customer experience refers to any digital touchpoint within the general customer experience. While the entire CX doesn’t need to be digital, it’s increasingly likely that every customer will have at least one digital touchpoint during their customer journey. Some of the more common touchpoints include:
- Websites with self service portals that enable customers to educate themselves about a product or service, make a purchase, and/or access customer service.
- Remote access through mobile devices that offer the same functions and features as a website.
- Personalized communications through emails and SMS that update customers on shipments, alert them to relevant offers, and provide updates related to their interests.
- Interaction and engagement with the company or other customers through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
- Customer Voice programs that collect, aggregate, and analyze customer reviews, returns, complaints and other types of feedback.
Why Is Digital Customer Experience Important?
As digital CX becomes more prevalent across all industries, customer’s habits and expectations change over time, as well — and businesses need to be flexible enough to meet those expectations.
Customers expect more points of access. Mobile and tablet use has exceeded desktop use since 2016, and adoption of mobile tech has only accelerated since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. However, people are still more likely to use desktops to complete tasks that are viewed as “important” or more complex. If customers are using multiple different devices to access content, then their experience across these channels should be seamless. If customers have vastly different user experiences on different devices or — even worse — have to start an entirely new process after switching to a new device, then they’re much more likely to be frustrated.
Customer service needs to evolve. As a business’ audiences expands and its points of contact increase, its customer service team is more likely to be overwhelmed. This is especially true when major events, such as COVID-19, cause massive service disruptions that increase customer complaints. Digital access can support overworked Customer Service Agents through use of chat bots, natural language processing programs, and automated surveys. Behind the scenes, an integrated CS system can pull information from purchase history, emails, and chats to effectively funnel customers to the right agents with the right answers at the right time.
Customers are looking to build community. One thing that the pandemic lockdown made clear was that people need to feel connected, either with each other or with a more general sense of community.
Most are hopeful about how digital technology can forge connections, as 78% of consumers would like brands to use social media to help them connect with other people, and over half are interested in connecting to people different from them. Consumers are willing to reward brands that follow through on that promise, as more than half (57%) will increase spending on brands that build connections and 76% will use their services over a competitor that does not.
Businesses should take advantage of greater customer insights. Personalization is projected to be the prime driver of marketing success, and effective personalization is made possible by the digital CX. Every digital interaction leaves behind traces of contact – like fingerprints – that can be collected and analyzed for general trends and specific individual preferences. Businesses can use AI to curate this massive amount of customer data and create better personalized outreach campaigns across any communication touch point.
The bottom line is that every digital point of interaction is crucial, so building customer experience that’s consistent across every digital channel — as well as the physical space — is crucial.
Understanding Multichannel vs. Omnichannel
Before building that experience, it’s vital to know the difference between a multichannel CX and an omnichannel CX.
While multichannel support exists across several different environments (mobile, in-store, phone service, etc.), each channel exists separate as part of its own department with its own team of agents. This type of siloed information is mostly focused on simply resolving issues and closing tickets. The issue is that this approach can make cross-communication across environments and departments inefficient, if not impossible in some scenarios.
Omnichannel support goes one step further by ensuring that all channels are tightly integrated and, therefore, able to easily share information. If a customer starts a purchase on their mobile device, they should be able to complete that transaction on their computer, discuss any issues over the phone with a customer service agent, and continue that conversation over email, all without needing to re-enter personal information or start the process from scratch.
Omnichannel customer service builds consistency in the customer experience, which makes interaction seamless for the customer and thereby enhances their overall experience. It’s a necessary component of having a digital CX and helps to differentiate your brand from the competition.
How Does Technology Support an Omnichannel Approach to CX?
Consistent digital CX occurs when businesses can follow through on three different fronts:
Offer multiple customer touchpoints: Customers should have multiple options for initiating contact, and the experience between them should be seamless – each option should provide similar functions and opportunities. A customer who calls in to return a product should experience the same level of service as one who uses a self-service portal.
Blend the physical and digital space: A business’ customer experience strategy isn’t truly omnichannel unless it accounts for in-person interactions as well as digital ones. This can be as simple as BOPIS/BOPAC purchase options for customers to easily pickup their digital purchases at the store, to something more personalized like proximity marketing, where marketing can targeted based on location.
Unify your infrastructure: None of this is possible if customer information remains locked in departmental silos or stuck in antiquated systems that can’t connect to modern platforms. A true digital CX strategy needs an integrated technical stack to ensure that all your data is consistently accessible across any channel.
There are multiple technologies a business can invest in to measure and manage the customer journey across every interaction. Some of the most important include:
- Customer Relations Management Platforms – CRMs serve as the bedrock for managing all customer relationships and interaction. As the centralized repository for customer data, a CRM provides an overview of which channels your customers are using, the products and services they’re prioritizing, and their specific issues and concerns.
- Customer Voice Programs – These programs collect and track customer feedback and inputs across multiple channels, as well as enable you to create personal surveys, profiles, and insights that you can share across departments. This allows for more effective clienteling, which builds long term relationships and greater brand loyalty.
- Marketing Technology – Modern MarTech stacks are the output to your Customer Voice input. This service optimizes and augments marketing processes, including social media management, automated email generation, advertising outreach, and more. They handle more of the mundane marketing tasks so your marketing team can focus on higher level projects.
- Knowledge Management Systems – These systems are the means of unified communication that enables different departments to share, manage, and create important customer information. They offer for more immediate access to important data and promote direct feedback between department.
- Custom Designed Applications – No two companies have the same needs or operations, so any good digital experience will equip your employees to operate as efficiently as possible. Products like the Microsoft Power Platform support the creation of custom apps to reduce pain points and empower employees in the areas they need the most assistance.
Where Should Companies Start?
Any field, from retail to manufacturing and banking, should start their digital CX development with a self-assessment and consultation. That way, rather than start the process blind, the business can have a better idea of which direction they should be heading in. Some questions to ask:
- Are we utilizing existing customer data effectively? Where can we do a better job of collecting relevant information? What kind of customer data do we collect and where is it captured?
- Which customer services and internal architecture cause the most issues? Which issues are procedural, and which ones are because of outdated technology? Of the latter, what can and should be updated?
- In what areas do we lack a clear view of our customer journey? What do we need to do in order to better track what our customers are doing in these areas?
- Which of our systems are truly connected, and which ones are still siloed? How can we get our different tech stacks to interact efficiently? Can we even do that with our current system, or do we need to migrate our data to something new?
Though, perhaps the most important question is – where can you find someone who will help you find these answers?
Start Your Consultation & Collaboration with Hitachi Solutions
It’s important to place your trust in a partner that can effectively identify the ways in which you can modernize your business to optimize your CX. For more than 15 years, Hitachi Solutions has helped clients around the globe achieve outcome-driven results to help them better compete and succeed in today’s digital world.
We’ve developed workshops – such as our Customer Service Workshop – that assist our clients in finding a balanced approach for a Customer Service & Experience program, and create a true omnichannel solution that works across all departments. Explore our Experience solutions track to help build a consistent and engaging user experience that will differentiate you from the competition.
For more information about Hitachi Solutions and our complete listings of user experience workshops and offers, contact us here.
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