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By Anand Subramaniam, VP of Worldwide Marketing at eGain

More often than not, interactions between today’s multi-device customers and businesses are cross-touchpoint journeys. How can a business orchestrate these journeys so that they are both delightful for the customer and profitable for the business? Based on our experience enabling smart, connected customer journeys for enterprises around the world, we have identified eight essential elements for success.

1. Prioritize. If your business is one of significant size, you’re likely serving multiple market segments in which customers undertake their own unique journeys for doing business with you. Focus on fixing the most common high-value journeys, starting with the most profitable market segments first.

2. Humanize. Market segment behaviors can be modeled by humanizing them with personas representing those segments. Personas are cost-effective shortcuts that reduce the need for expensive quantitative research to understand how consumers in those segments might behave, and what their goals and journeys might look like. You can even find personas within your own organization for easy access to market segment insights.

3. Design. At the highest level, the customer has a relationship with the business, made up of experiences from his journeys. These journeys span “research, buy, use, and love” stages, and have become overwhelmingly multichannel and multidevice. Examples of journeys might be a quick “in and out” search for a product on your Web site, the return of a product bought online to a brick-and-mortar storefront, making a phone call to troubleshoot a problem when Web self-service fails, a peer-to-peer service inquiry on the company’s forum, or going from a social network interaction to a one-on-one, private chat with the business at the request of a service agent.

An example of a journey for an Internet-savvy, working mom persona buying and using insurance may consist of the following steps:

  • Check out online communities to find the best deals for insurance
  • Check out Web site FAQs to get answers to questions regarding coverage
  • Cobrowse with a sales agent to fill out an online form while simultaneously talking on the phone to purchase and enroll
  • If she has to use the insurance, video chat with a claims agent to show damage to her property (auto, home, etc.)
  • “Like” the insurance company on Facebook if she has a good claims experience

Businesses need to put the enabling technologies in place to be able to design and deliver such journeys across touchpoints.

4. Identify disconnects. As you analyze journeys, look for points of abandonment and the corresponding root causes. Why are customers getting lost or defecting? Is it lack of relevant information or sales and service offers or poor guidance given to the customer? Is it a limitation of the particular interaction channel for the customer’s goal? Is it loss of context in a cross-channel transition? Is it inconsistent answers across channels or even agents in the same channel? Is it search dead-ends for the customer or the service agent? Is it sales or service policy?

5. Parallelize. Customer journeys have parallel enterprise journeys—engagement by the enterprise creates experiences for the customer. For example, “research, buy, use, and love” maps to “educate, acquire, serve, and nurture.” The customer experience also maps to the agent experience, when assisted service is involved in a journey. Are agents fumbling for answers? Are they finding different answers in separate knowledge bases? Are they at a loss for what and how to resolve or sell? Are there breaks in context and workflows across the enterprise journey? Moreover, creating a transformation road map with an engagement maturity model will provide structure to your enterprise journey toward a better customer experience.

6. Build on a hub. Consumers adopt and abandon new interaction channels and access devices at warp speed. Today’s Facebook might become tomorrow’s MySpace, and today’s iPhone might be tomorrow’s BlackBerry. How can you keep up with consumers by supporting these channels and devices as they adopt and abandon them, and how do you do it without creating new silos? The answer is to implement a customer engagement hub. A concept advocated by Gartner, a customer engagement hub is a platform that consolidates all interactions, rules, knowledge, workflow, analytics, and administration in one place, while enabling innovation and differentiation through apps built on that platform.

7. Take a holistic approach. Businesses need to take a holistic approach to customer engagement in order to grease the skids for customer journeys with context, knowledge, and insight, fronted by rich collaboration:

  • Context: A 360-degree view of the current customer journey, as well as past interactions and transactions
  • Insight: Multichannel analytic insights across their journeys
  • Knowledge: Contextual content as well as interactive guidance to move the journey forward

These should be fronted by rich, modern interaction tools such as phone-aided cobrowse, video chat, etc. This approach helps create memorable customer experiences, while accelerating sales and service.

8. Iterate. Once you design journeys, have your personas test-drive them by “mystery shopping.” Test driving will reveal possible points of journey disconnects so that they can be addressed before eventual deployment to customers. Once deployed, iterate journey design with analytics on an ongoing basis.

Multichannel customer journeys can make or break today’s business. Taking a step-by-step approach to journey transformation with associated milestones will ensure success.

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