Originally Published in Forbes
Type: Article By Mark Smith
The customer journey has transformed from a marketing industry buzzword to an integral part of many companies’ marketing and customer experience strategies, but there’s still a major consideration that most are overlooking.
An eye-opening 76% of customers report that they receive conflicting answers from different customer service agents. This lack of consistency creates frustration and a poor customer experience even when a problem is solved. When answers differ between representatives in the same organization, customers recognize the disjointed feeling of their interactions. It’s no longer enough to just map and track individual customers along a single journey — brands need to account for the fact that a modern customer can be on multiple journeys within the brand at the same time and provide seamless transitions between those business segments.
This is absolutely vital to providing a positive customer experience, as a single negative experience on any one of these journeys could result in a lost customer or a missed conversion. To achieve simultaneously successful journeys, it’s essential to understand the full breadth of journeys that potential customers may be on, use analytics to identify optimal real-time responses and ensure that employees are also having good experiences that inspire them to provide a consistently positive experience in return.
Single Vs. Multiple Journeys
Customer journeys can no longer be looked at in a vacuum if they are going to be effective in delivering a great customer experience. Any company with multiple business units already has customers experiencing multiple journeys.
For a bank, this could be a customer with a checking account, credit card and active mortgage application — putting them on three separate customer journeys at once. If the customer has a bad experience with their credit card, it may cause them to choose a different bank for their mortgage, even if they were experiencing great service from the mortgage department. In other words, it’s often the overarching brand experience that matters more than the individual business units in many cases.
How can businesses counteract the scenario described above? By aligning multiple customer journeys with one another and monitoring experiences and interactions in real time. This enables different business units to react to customers journeys in other parts of the company. If a customer had a negative experience and filed a customer service complaint about one area of the business, then the others need to know so that they can compensate.
In the bank scenario, let’s say the customer’s credit card was stolen and they had difficulty getting the fraudulent charges dropped. Here’s how the bank (or even your own company) can make sure all of its business units are on the same page so that the customer journey isn’t siloed:
• Share customer frustrations in real time with other business units so that they can react accordingly by providing superior service the next time the customer visits.
• Add frustrated customers to suppression lists for a period of time so as not to advertise new products.
• Express empathy to the customer and offer a free gift or product to help smooth things over.
Aligning The Employee Journey
To achieve multiple synced journeys, companies must also ensure that the employee response aligns with the customer’s multiple journeys. If an employee provides a subpar experience, it can ruin the customer’s journey and taint the entire brand perception. This makes employee journeys within the company vital to success, as they are at the front lines of ensuring that customer experience standards remain high.
An employee journey begins from the moment they are hired and continues as they are trained to meet company standards and assimilated into the company culture. If an employee doesn’t buy into the company culture or feel a connection to the brand, it will be difficult for them to provide a positive customer experience or feel motivated to go above and beyond to meet customer expectations.
But employees can’t deliver a customer-first experience that aligns with the company values if the culture itself doesn’t value the employee journey from day one. Make sure your employees are equipped with the tools for their own journey by:
• Starting with a mission statement that makes your company’s purpose clear.
• Creating a playbook of hypothetical situations to give employees something to look to whenever they are unsure.
• Making sure employee contributions to the company are valued and recognized.
• Providing a platform for employees to share concerns or obstacles.
In fact, companies that excel at customer experience have employees that are 1.5 times more engaged than at companies offering poor customer experience and are 147% more profitable, making employee experience a vital part of the customer experience.
Customers Are Demanding Better Journeys
The overall customer experience is a major competitive differentiator for brands. But customer experience is not just about making customers happy; it is absolutely vital to increase the value of the brand. Since customers are willing to pay more for a good customer experience, it is more important than ever that brands effectively use customer journeys to provide better experiences.
The multiple customer journeys happening within a single company can no longer be overlooked, and employees need to be equipped with real-time customer data, along with a positive employee experience, in order to create a better customer experience and boost sales. Customer data silos are simply unacceptable and toxic to the bottom line, customer experience and the survivability of a business.