Building a unified customer experience

Today’s customer thinks that the world revolves around them – and they’re right.

Customers are increasingly agile, switching frequently between different devices, and between different modes of interaction. They will engage contact center agents via their laptop, smartphone, and tablet. They may be at home or at work, and interested in a long web chat session or a quick SMS text. They may call your company, email you, submit a web form, or simply tweet about you – and they expect your organization to be able to keep up.

Their tolerance for having to explain themselves multiple times to different contact center agents is fast disappearing. And getting a different answer to their question from each of those agents is now simply not an option. Those days are gone.

It’s time for contact centers to unify their customers’ experience, giving them a single, dependable relationship with an organization, no matter how they choose to interact. Here’s how to do it.

Understand customer behaviours

When designing a unified contact center experience for the customer, it is important to undertand the value of each communication channel. Take voice, for example; it may now compete with other channels such as email and web chat, but it is still a prevalent means of communication for many customers. When booking a multi-leg flight, for example, the conversation will be too intricate and personal to a customer’s situation to divert them to another channel.

The sophisticated contact center will understand what to expect from customers when they call on in different channels, but they may not always understand what the customer expects of them. That intellgence can be useful when creating a cohesive experience for customers.

In France, for example, when a customer contacts a company via Twitter, the typical expected response time is one hour. With Facebook, that expands to four hours, whereas email responses are generally acceptable to French customers within 24 hours. Are expectations in your geography the same?

Break down those silos

While these interaction channels will all provide users with different value, it is important to create an integrated experience across them all. Customers will use many channels during the course of a transaction. They may search for flights via a browser, for example, but call to make a booking. Then they may expect to see confirmation via email. And to make the customer experience perfect, this transition must be seamless.

The big challenge for contact centers in achieving that seamless communication is breaking down the technological silos between these channels, so that information can flow freely.

Keep controls and visibility

This seamlessness requires a level of control and visibility at the back end. Information about these interactions must be chained together to produce a story of the customer’s interaction so far.

The customer who calls in to book a flight after searching online may not have seen all the options. Did she check the flight from Dallas to Paris? Your agent also noticed from her search history that she was exploring an extra seat for a small child on her return flight, but not her outbound flight. Was she aware of your price deal for parents travelling one-way with children? Imagine how delighted she would be if an agent made her aware of this information during a subsequent call.

This kind of interaction requires not only technological prowess, but also organizational skill. People must be trained to analyze data from all media channels to help improve the customer’s experience, and this also requires a unified process for exchanging and acting on information.

Use your brand to unify

This cohesiveness must be carried through the entire customer experience, in all ways. As the primary means of interacting with customers, the contact center is responsible for maintaining the integrity of an organization’s brand. This applies not only to how the agents deal with customers, but also to the interfaces across every channel. Various aspects of branding are a key way to reinforce a unified customer experience. Consider these:

·         Visual branding. Logos, fonts and brand colors should be the same across all interfaces, from the mobile app to the web site, and should be reflected in emails and printed material.

·         Interface design. Although it is important to allow for differences in screen and device format, the customer’s navigation path through mobile and web apps should be as consistent as possible. If the user needs to use multiple web apps online (say, separate ones for booking and customer support queries) then these should be crafted consistently. Language and messaging should be constant.

·         Auditory design. Hopefully, the customer won’t be on hold for too long when phoning the contact center, but if they are, make sure that auditory messaging and cues reflect those used elsewhere (such as in TV advertisements).

Cater to emotion

Interacting with a contact center can be an emotional experience for a customer. They can end a session feeling valued, appreciated, and complete. They can also end it feeling ignored, irrelevant, exasperated, and insulted.

The ultimate goal here is to make the customer feel safe and secure in their communication at all times. They should know where they are in the process, and should feel comfortable that they will get the same answers from all agents, via all channels, at all stages in that process.

A unified customer experience can dramatically increase the chance of a positive emotional outcome for the customer. It is also an excellent platform on which an agent can build a personal rapport with the customer.

This is a powerful tool when serving customers who deal with organizations on an emotional level. In five years’ time, the exact detail of an interaction will fade away, but a customer will be left with an overall impression of your company. To quote Maya Angelou: “At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did; they will remember how you made them feel”.

To find out how Orange can help you improve your customer's experiences, visit Orange Applications for Business. 

Lucas Soaleh

.Lucas Soaleh is a Contact Center Solutions Senior Specialist at Orange Applications for Business. Customer Experience has always been the common thread of his career path, including working for consulting firms - which is where he started as CRM consultant to Orange Business. With over 12 years of experience in CRM solutions development, he is now involved in developing new business opportunities worldwide and understanding customer’s business requirements.