Maps and statistics don’t always provide real-life guidance. Statistically, it rains on Mondays in the Netherlands, but last Monday was clear. An athlete can have a statistically strong season, but then have a complete off day. Frequently, directions that lead you to a destination don’t account for road construction. The same often is true with customer experience—it can be difficult to predict situations with a degree of certainty.
Years ago, I learned that customer journey mapping was one of many practices in customer experience design and management. At first, I was excited about this methodical approach, though it did leave me with an impression of passiveness. As logical as it sounds to map out various customer journeys, it’s merely a static description of how customers might travel or a culmination of journey data you have gathered up to a certain point.
What if you could make your journey maps come alive? What if you could act on the opportunity in the business moment? You can, at Genesys, we call this ‘Journey Shaping’. Journey Shaping is the latest in Customer Experience Management and is very relevant because:
- Consumers are omnichannel: Consumers use more channels than ever before, and it’s unlikely that will change. In fact, the number of channels they use will only increase. As a result, many organizations follow this consumer behavior by opening up more channels and touchpoints.
- Consumers are not all the same: Different types of consumers use different types of channels. And based on the type of inquiry, situation or time of day, those consumers might select a different channel to start the conversation.
- Consumer behavior is erratic: In many of these new channels, it’s fine to do a basic transaction or ask a simple question. But if the response is not quick enough, or it doesn’t lead to a satisfactory outcome, consumers will switch to another channel quickly. It’s all about instant gratification.
- It’s hard to anticipate: Organizations find it difficult to anticipate customer wants and needs in this tornado of consumer interactions. It’s also difficult to react in time and monetize on an opportunity to offer a new product or go the extra mile to drive customer satisfaction.
- Businesses are under pressure: With so many possible paths, improving your business outcomes is not easy. Ensuring you achieve Net Promoter Scores, conversion rates, and cost optimization is a real challenge.
- Operational impact is high: From an operational perspective, managing all these touchpoints is difficult. Training your staff to use different technologies, measuring SLAs and quality, forecasting, and scheduling for each type of touchpoint are complex, expensive and time-consuming tasks.
Shaping the Customer Journey in Real Time
With the ongoing proliferation of channels, and as consumer contacts continue to grow in number, understanding what the next best action is for each individual customer journey — at a particular moment in time—can seem impossible. It can be tough to keep track of every interaction, across all channels, and predict the next step to increase customer satisfaction, improve lead and sales conversion, or speed up the time to resolution. This is where your customer engagement platform comes into play.
5 Principles of Journey Shaping With a Customer Engagement Platform
To shape the customer journey as described, the customer engagement platform must satisfy five criteria.
- Span the customer lifecycle. Customer experience is not just about customer service. To truly engage with prospects and customers, the journey needs to be shaped seamlessly across marketing, sales, and services. To the customer, all these are simply perceived, and judged, as a single brand experience.
- Have a view on all customer interactions. Think of the customer engagement platform as a system that’s connected to every customer touchpoint—the website, mobile application, IVR, corporate Twitter account, contact center, back office, business partners, etc. Each receives real-time events from every touchpoint to gather as much information as possible—in real time—and process that information through a set of business rules to determine what the next best action is for each individual interaction.
- Connect to your enterprise architecture. By connecting to other applications and data sources in your enterprise architecture, such as your CRM system, marketing automation, HRM, and sales and billing systems, the customer engagement platform enriches the information for each interaction. This improves the quality of each decision and prediction And making better decisions typically means you’ll see better outcomes.
- Know your people. The customer engagement platform is also aware of the presence, skills and business performance of everyone in your workforce. As employees help customers solve their issues—answering their questions and selling them new or more products and services—machine learning algorithms continuously unveil correlations between all data points. And then they can predict the best next action or the best employee to route a task to.
- Support for Blended AI. As the number of total interactions continues to grow, it’s unavoidable to apply automation in the form of IVR systems, chatbots, and virtual assistants to scale your operation. Doubling your workforce is simply too expensive. The ability to seamlessly blend between artificial intelligence (AI) driven self-service capabilities and real-life employees is vital.
A customer engagement platform that operates in real time, applies intelligence in the moment and is supported by AI strengthens customer journey shaping — in real time. To learn more, check out the journey mapping ebook: An outside-in approach to delivering great customer experiences.