The integrated customer journey

Whether customers choose to get in touch using email, phone, web chat, WhatsApp, or something else, they should be provided with the same consistent standard of customer service.

Every interaction a customer has with your business forms part of their journey. From the first time that they see an advertisement or promotion, visit your website, or pick up the phone, it’s vital that their experience is high quality, consistent and accurately reflects how you want your brand and business to be portrayed.

Why is it so important?

Offering a truly integrated customer journey is not only important for customer satisfaction and your company’s wider reputation, but it also helps boost conversion rates. Customers no longer base their loyalty purely on price or what you offer, they stay loyal with companies due to the experience they receive. In fact, research by Microsoft found that 96% of consumers around the globe say that customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Additionally, CRM platform Salesforce found that 67% of consumers say they’ll pay more for a great experience.

Picture this: a prospect visits your website and, upon coming across a service that might be of interest, interacts with a live chat assistant to gain further information and discuss their requirements. After initially being impressed, they ask for a representative of the relevant service team to call them back. Instead of being called back, the prospect calls the number advertised on your website the next day and eventually gets through to the correct service team; however, they have no record of the live chat conversation and the prospect has to repeat everything again. As that customer, would you feel your custom was valued, have confidence in that business, or continue with that transaction? How you feel after you’ve made contact with a business or service will affect your further decisions.

If you cannot keep up with the way customers want to engage with you and provide a consistent experience regardless of which communication method they use, it’s likely that they’ll go to a competitor that can provide the experience they expect. If you want your customers to stay loyal, you have to invest in the experience.

Where should you start?

To provide an integrated customer journey, it’s important to make sure that every transaction and every stage of the process is streamlined. Every second counts. Here are some of the key points you need to consider:

  • Walk a mile in your clients’ shoes – The best way to form an accurate picture of the quality of customer experience you provide is to go through the customer journey first-hand, mystery shopper style! This will allow you to identify any areas that need tweaking, or where there’s potential for new processes or technology to be implemented to streamline the journey.
  • Customer feedback: worth its weight in gold – Being part of the organisation with insight on internal processes can often mean that you don’t fully appreciate the whole customer experience you’re overlooking. Customer feedback, good or bad, is invaluable. Before jumping into the many formats of collating feedback, whether it be from website questionnaires, in-message surveys or using Net Promotor Scores, consider your primary goals for collecting feedback. For example, you may want to understand why potential customers drop-off when they’re sent paperwork to sign. Once you establish meaningful information, it can be used and acted upon accordingly.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of call recordings – Call recordings help provide evidence over any disputed conversation and also allow you to experience the customer journey from their perspective. Some businesses are also using call recordings to support verbal signing and agreement to contracts instead of physically signing or e-signing documents, thereby enhancing and speeding up the customer process.
  • All interactions and data in one place – Implementing a central portal or CRM to host all the vital customer information and communication records can help provide a truly integrated customer journey. This ensures that all employees are accessing and using the same source of information, guaranteeing consistency. It also eliminates the need for customers to repeat themselves, as employees can access all the data they need on their file and bring themselves up to speed with the necessary context.
  • Bringing the team up to speed – If/when you decide to implement new technology to streamline the customer experience, it’s important to make sure that your employees fully understand all of the tools and functions they’re expected to use. This may also be the opportune time to run through your etiquette and interaction style preferences.
  • Revisit regularly – Integrating your customer journey isn’t just a one-time fix. Your technology and business is constantly evolving, so your customer journey will be too. It’s a constant learning curve, so it’s best to factor in time to regularly revisit, revise and adapt processes accordingly so you can always ensure you’re providing a consistent customer experience across all communication channels.

Integration is about using the best technology to do things better and more efficiently than competitors, but as Steve Jobs famously said in 1997, “You’ve got to start with customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around”.