The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way that we live, work, and consume products.
It doesn’t matter where you are, there’s no doubt that you’ve been affected by things like lockdowns, social distancing, and the rise of digital interactions.
One of the major changes to occur in the world, involves the way that consumers interact with brands and companies. Today’s clients are beginning to rely on brands to help them navigate a confusing landscape, stay comfortable, and remain safe.
We’ve turned to technology companies to help us stay connected to our loved ones with messaging and video tools. We use delivery companies to access food and supplies. Everyone has a role to play in this new landscape.
For today’s companies to achieve the best possible customer experiences for clients, they need to be able to understand their purpose, and rediscover the evolving components of the customer journey.
Understanding End-to-End CX
End-to-end customer experience means getting a full, 360-degree view of every interaction between your brand and your target audience. A comprehensive strategy ensures that you’re prepared to deal with everything from the moment your customer first reaches out to you through an online chat tool, to the point where your client needs help using your product.
The rise of COVID accelerated the evolution of the omnichannel environment as customers started to search for new ways to interact with companies. When the phone lines and call centres were overwhelmed by customers in the early stages of COVID, customers started looking for alternative solutions instead. Today’s channels include:
- Audio: The standard call centre environment and conversations with customers over the phone or a VoIP phone connection
- Video: Building on the audio-conferencing landscape with an extra source of visual information. Video brings more depth and intimacy to conversations
- Chat: Chat-based messaging allows customers to have quick and easy conversations with either agents, or chatbots online
- Social media: For a while now, customers have been reaching out to companies on their social channels. The presence of messaging platforms within these channels is making social customer service more common
- SMS and text: Clients are becoming increasingly comfortable with speaking to companies through text or phone-based messaging apps
To deliver a true end-to-end CX solution, todays companies need to be aware of every channel their customer uses, as well as the “moments of truth” that are most likely to make or break connections. In other words, how do you ensure that you’re ready to deliver the perfect experiences at the most crucial moments for your customers?
Adapting for the Future of the Customer Journey
To adapt to the new needs of today’s clients, companies are digitally transforming at an incredible scale. Companies that previously only offered phone support to clients are now delivering extra functionality through mobile apps and SMS interfaces.
Online chat became a must-have for virtually every company, with many using chatbots and virtual assistants to help sort through customer queries and handle self-service requirements. The modern
business owner found that to compete in the current landscape, they couldn’t just meet their customer at every stage in the journey, they needed to ensure that the complete map felt seamless and connected.
For instance, a conversation that began with a business on social media and ended up with a client speaking to a customer over video chat couldn’t feature any repetition on the part of the client. Companies needed a way to maintain a full view of the end-to-end experience, so that everything felt simple, and connected.
One of the ways that today’s CX innovators are enabling this seamless experience is by replacing various disparate tools for communication with open platforms that allow for integrations and API flexibility.
Building APIs for SMS, text, and video into an existing communication platform or contact centre space means that companies don’t have to waste time connecting different points of data. Companies offering CPaaS, API environments, and programmatic communications are opening the door to a more flexible landscape, where teams can build their tools for customer experience around the individual journeys that clients are engaging in.
Embracing a New Kind of CX
We’re living in a world where customer experience is different to anything we’ve ever encountered before. Customer service has become a 24/7/365 affair, distributed among multiple channels, yet connected by a constant stream of context.
The API landscape and open platforms for integration are some of the initial solutions that are driving this better quality of consistent communication. However, companies are also finding that they need a little extra help from technology too. An MIT tech review in 2020 found that customer service chatbots are now the most popular application of AI in the business space.
Agents are using chatbots to handle self-service requirements, but also to access useful information about customers, surface data from different departments to give more context conversation and align the numerous touchpoints within the new customer journey.
All the while, the artificial intelligence in these disruptive CX tools is allowing for better insights into the customer journey as it continues to change. Right now, the world of customer experience is in a state of almost constant flux. Companies can’t just be aware of what’s going on in their industry today. They need to be prepared for what comes next, too.
Deeper insights and a stronger use of business data will help the customer experience company of tomorrow to ensure that they’re meeting the needs of their clients head-on. These analytics could also be helpful for things like managing compliance and ensuring quality assurance in a landscape defined by remote work and distributed workers.
What’s Next for the Customer Journey?
We can’t be certain what the new customer journey will look like in the years ahead. What we know now, however, is that consumers expect more from us than ever before. Your clients don’t just want a digitally enhanced and modern CX experience. They want a connected omnichannel way to reach your company seamlessly whenever, and however they choose.
Preparing for the future will require companies to be more agile, adaptable, and data driven than ever before. Are you up for the challenge?