Customer Experience: Anytime and Anywhere
A “customer experience” has evolved from visiting a local store where the owners know customers by name to a world where millions of customers interact with brands using numerous forms of communication and devices. To remain competitive, businesses have to create new customer experience (CX) strategies.
Many organizations struggle with millions of terabytes of behavioral, attitudinal and transactional data to set up sophisticated self-serve or premium support services. Customers today don’t really care how that support comes together, as long as they keep getting that ‘while glove’ experience every time they shop or engage with the brand. That goes for any channel customers touch during their journey – whether it’s via email, phone, online chat, social media or text. This means that no matter how a customer may contact a business, the customer still expects the company to know exactly who they are, their preferences and purchase history. Businesses need to realize the importance of meeting the customer halfway to provide an engaging, integrated CX across all channels of communication.
Mobile Technology Fueling New Era of Customer Experience
Tablets and smartphones have given the “anytime, anywhere” concept new meaning. Mobile technology has been instrumental in attracting Millennials who have grown up in a world where instant global connectivity is the norm.They stream their favorite shows, check the news and watch movies from one of their smart devices wherever and whenever they desire. They order pizzas, schedule a taxi pickup, conduct job interviews via video – among other tasks – from a mobile app.
Creating a satisfying customer experience has never been so challenging. With daily improvements in digital properties, apps and connecting technologies – customers have the choice to switch brands immediately, and retention remains in their hands.
Improving and Measuring Multi-Channel User Experiences in a Modern Digital Ecosystem
Users now jump between touchpoints under the assumption they will see the same data and options across all platforms.
This changing consumer behavior has resulted in the role of visual designers and user experience (UX) professionals growing from an initial consideration of web, mobile and email screens toward accommodating customer journeys that switch among many channels in a single transaction. For example, a consumer may check out product reviews on a tablet, check prices on desktop, and then physically going into a store to buy the product. Putting users at the center of your multi-channel design is key to a successful omni-channel UX approach. It can transform your business strategy to achieve that elusive and brilliant experience all users, regardless of how they have chosen to interact with the brand.
Here are recommendations on how companies can make this approach work:
1. Invest in a Consistent UX: Your customers expect the same experience every time they interact with your brand, and ideally each experience should build their trust and strengthen your reputation. If any channel fails to reach the standards set by your best channel, your brand’s credibility will suffer. Every time an action isn’t available, a mode becomes unfamiliar, or a button isn’t where it’s expected to be, your reputation takes a small hit.
2. Create Great and Consistent Content Across Channels: Content and context optimization are key to any great user experience. The Starbucks website, for instance, allows users to add to their Starbucks loyalty card, and the mobile app allows users to pay for their coffee on the fly. Design each channel to impress, even if it’s the first or only touchpoint a customer will have with your brand. Also consider how different channels might be better suited to different interactions, and how the context of those channels will influence those interactions. The motive should be both.
3. Plan Your User Experience Integration: A good user experience doesn’t happen in one day. It requires a very consistent approach. You need to take a structured approach to integrating the right UX research and design activities within the project itself and beyond delivery. Some common questions to ask business stakeholders before processing with UX designinclude:
o How will I know what affect future changes will have on UX?
o What ongoing UX activities are required as part of the managed service phase?
o What measures will I take and how?
o What resources and skills are needed beyond project delivery to continually measure and evaluate UX?
o How will I index my content and UX based on different segments and personas?
4. Invest in the Right Infrastructure: With customer touchpoints reaching millions of clicks and multi-million dollar transactions in a day, you must increasingly use the right infrastructural investments to ensure stakeholders have complete visibility on the health and performance of business, ensuring the marketing, product and executive management teams are able to tap into each consumer’s history, purchase history, and behavioral and attitudinal data to promote retention and loyalty. Always have a scalable insights layer in your technology stack as well, as it will ensure a seamless delivery of closely watched numbers/financials along with the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) measure – which the business can use for short- and long-term strategic planning.
5. Understand the Reasons Behind the Numbers and Results: The insight you’ll get from your ongoing UX measurement is only part of the story. Whether you’re using NPS, CSAT surveys, digital analytics or other quantitative measures, you need to understand the reasons behind the numbers. For example, if your business intelligence data is showing you a higher than expected hang-up rate at a particular point in your Interactive Voice Response, or your web analytics data shows abandonment at a certain part of your checkout process, you need to understand why this is happening. Qualitative research such as surveys, interviews and usability testing can help you uncover the reasons why people are hanging up or dropping out.
6. Set up Objective Measures for Benchmarking CX Success or Failures: It’s not uncommon to see ‘improve user experience’ in a business’ requirements specification. But what does this actually mean? And, how do you know if user experience has actually been improved? Many companies already have CSAT or NPS processes in place that can be used to indicate general user experience. Repeating these surveys during the project process provides a consistent and tangible way of indicating the impacts on CX, though care needs to be taken to ensure that changes in CSAT or NPS aren’t due to other external factors.
7. Bringing it all Together: Formalizing and operationalizing your user experience strategy is critical to the ongoing maintenance and enhancement of your multi-channel service. These activities need to be coordinated and integrated as part of your standard project process.
Buy-in and involvement of stakeholders from all channels, in addition to the establishment of a multi-disciplinary team with representatives from across the business, can help make this become a reality. These efforts need to be combined with regular meetings with actionable outcomes, visibility of planned changes, marketing campaigns, a schedule for future UX activities, and new products and services. The UX of your multi-channel service is important at all stages of its life.
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