Mapping the Customer Service Journey to Improve Customer Experience
In the days before Google Maps, finding directions to a new location, especially if it was in an unfamiliar city, took careful planning and attention. Routes had to be determined long before leaving, and an extra time cushion was absolutely necessary to accommodate for any wrong turns. In worst-case scenarios, gas station attendants could always be counted on to help guide a lost traveller. With the advent of smartphones, determining directions to a completely unknown locale is now a fairly painless process. Audio turn-by-turn directions make for safer navigation and quicker arrivals, although there may be fewer opportunities for human interactions. Now, a similar revolution is happening on another important route: the customer service journey.
Defining the Customer Service Journey
A customer service journey is the accumulated experiences a customer undergoes when they decide to interact with a brand, or purchase a service or product. Every single touchpoint they have with a brand makes up their journey, and the emotions they experience at each touchpoint have a huge effect on their decision to make a purchase or recommend the brand to a friend. On a recent episode of the Verizon Insights podcast, Cary Cusumano, Customer Experience Designer, noted that in 17 out of 18 industries, the emotions that a customer experiences predict the level of their loyalty to a brand. (Even above their satisfaction with a product or service.) It is essential for companies to optimize the customer journey whenever possible to build loyal brand advocates and to show empathy to their customers.
Steps on the Customer Service Journey
The best way to show customers empathy is to understand the interactions they have with a brand over the course of their relationship. During the discovery phase, potential customers may interact with a brand through reviews, internet research, advertisements, or talking to acquaintances or friends. Once someone becomes a customer, companies must invest in meeting their customers where they are. That means making sure that customers can reach out and engage with the brand through a variety of touchpoints, depending on their preferences. The four primary ways customers interact with brands after purchasing a product or service is through phone calls, e-mails, social media interactions, and live chat options. Customers choose each of these options based on their age, location, and lifestyle. A college student at a university may prefer a chat-based option that’s available later in the evening, while a parent may choose to call during a child’s naptime. No matter how customers decide to reach out, responsive companies have several options to best meet different communication styles and time constraints.
The Need to Make the Customer Service Journey More Pleasant
In order to give customers what they want, brands must be willing to make an investment in each stop along the customer journey to ensure it is a pleasant one. While money is funnelled into product development or marketing, customer experience is often pushed to the side as an unnecessary expense. However, it’s one of the most important factors to master in order to maintain a competitive advantage.With the advent of social media, interactivity between brands and customers has spiked, and companies don’t always known how to utilize these interactions to build positive impressions. Leadership at companies can feel overwhelmed by the bandwidth and expertise needed to ensure a smooth customer journey. Or, they’re unsure how to put customer service at the forefront of their company culture, even though they recognize that brands that do gain new leads and retain a strong customer base. As technology advances, many industry leaders predicted a de- emphasis on human interaction and empathy. Instead, the opposite is becoming more important. Understanding the routes customers take in relationship to brands, and investing in critical touch points is the only way to make the customer service journey a positive one.
If you’re looking for help implementing a culture of service to let your customers know they come first, our experts can help. For over twenty years, the team at Customer Direct have been leaders in creating positive customer experiences and managing voice, email, chat and social media interactions on behalf of prominent brands. Delighting customers at every touchpoint on their journey is our passion and our business. Make your business more personal by providing genuine customer service experiences each step of the way. Contact us today.