Before we dive into the history as well as different strategies to optimize the customer experience, let’s first begin with the definition of customer experience.
Customer experience is how a customer perceives any individual interaction as well as overall interaction(s) he or she has with a business. These experiences can come from any touch point that a customer has with a business, whether it’s on the phone, online, email or through any other channel.
And with each of these channels and touch points, there is room for improvement or optimization. From offering a callback on any channel so a customer doesn’t hit a dead end to seeing what agent processes can be improved, customer experience optimization is the action of improving weak points of the customer journey in an effort to increase brand loyalty and perception.
How Customer Experience Has Changed Over the Years
Not that long ago, customer experience was defined as the experience a consumer had when buying from a company. This almost always occurred in-person or via a call center. Today, customer experience has a much broader context and includes every encounter that a consumer has across a growing number of digital communication channels.
In this digital age, consumers engage with your brand in many more ways than ever before. This includes everything from social media platforms and your website to mobile apps, IVR systems and of course, phone interactions with agents. With this growing range of channels, customer expectations are rapidly evolving. It’s no longer enough to have a great product or the lowest prices. To attract and keep customers, it’s about delivering exceptional service. This means optimizing it across channels to meet not only today’s customer expectations, but also tomorrow’s demands.
Why is Customer Experience Optimization Important?
The customer experience not only shapes consumers’ demand of your brand, but also influences their buying decisions and loyalty. Thus, customer experience optimization is essential for driving revenue and building a solid reputation that generates new customers.
With many options, consumers don’t stick with companies that deliver a bad customer experience. It’s easier than ever to find another source for nearly every product or service. Yet, the flip side is consumers will become repeat customers if a company provides a great customer experience. With each interaction that delivers this level of service, the loyalty increases.
This leads to an important question.
How Can You Best Optimize Your Customer Experience?
If you want to sustain a competitive edge in the digital age, optimizing your customer experience is a must. The following strategies can help you ensure that every customer interaction is fine-tuned to build stronger, more personalized interactions and relationships.
Ensure Your Online Presence Is Optimized
The customer experience begins with pre-awareness and continues through the initial purchase and hopefully to ongoing loyalty. This means that every aspect of your business’s online presence should be functional, consistent and optimized for a range of devices. Consumers should be able to navigate through your website and across other online channels seamlessly so that they obtain a strong brand experience.
Understand Customer Journeys
Leverage historical data from past interactions to gain greater knowledge of what customers want and need. By mapping out common customer journeys, you can identify areas for improvement and develop new strategies to optimize the overall customer experience.
Strive for Omnichannel Engagement
More than ever, consumers are shifting channels to obtain the level of service they need. Someone who begins their journey on your website, may begin a conversation using web chat before moving over to a voice channel. To provide seamless engagement, interaction context and customer data must be able to shift wherever the customer goes on their journey. This begins with having the right infrastructure to support omnichannel journeys.
Switch to Skills-Based Routing
Outdated queue-based routing is one of the biggest hindrances to customer experience optimization. Having all callers sit in a single queue waiting for the next available agent is a recipe for frustration and call abandonment. With a skills-based routing approach, you can match callers with the best agent based on their specific needs. This dramatically improves first call resolutions, as well as the overall customer experience.
Improve IVR Capabilities
Your IVR system is often the first point of contact between your business and your customers. This makes it an important component of your customer experience. By maximizing its efficiency, you can not only route customers more effectively, but also obtain transactional history that can be linked to tailor service and deliver a seamless experience. Some ways to do this include:
- Ensure agents have real-time access to information collected in the IVR.
- Tailor menu options to increase first call resolutions, minimize internal
transfers and reduce repetition.
- Offer Callback as an option to enable customers to control their time with the knowledge they will receive service without the need to remain on hold.
- Provide callers regular updates on their position in the queue
- Limit IVR to no more than five options.
Continuously Monitor Service Levels
Customer experience optimization can’t happen in a vacuum. This includes focusing on metrics, such as first call resolution (FCR), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and customer satisfaction scores (CSAT). It also means continuously asking for feedback from both customers and employees to truly understand what is working and what isn’t. Optimization is not a one-time project. Rather, it should be thought of as a continuous process that evolves along with customer expectations, business needs and technological advancements.
In today’s competitive market environment, offering an optimized customer experience is the most important and effective brand differentiator. With the commitment to focus on the customer and the processes to make positive change, your business can stand out amongst the others and secure customers who will remain loyal.