4 Key Ingredients for Building a Great Customer Journey

The journey you create for your customers contributes to the overall experience they have with your company. This article is the first in a six-part series on how to create a great customer journey with your contact center.

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4 Key Ingredients for Building a Great Customer Journey

Remember the last time you had a truly great experience at a restaurant? From the moment you entered the welcoming atmosphere, to your comfortable seat at the table, to the delicious meal you savored, you felt valued and taken care of. You were served a delightful customer journey.

Regardless of the cuisine on the menu, it was the quality of the experience that stood out—the service, the setting, and of course, the food. Your customer journey didn’t end when you paid your bill and went home. Chances are you’ll return again, and you’ll probably also recommend the restaurant to your friends.

Serving up a Great Customer Journey

Just like a wonderful restaurant experience is about more than just the food, your customer experience encompasses more than your products and services. The journey you create for your customers along the way contributes to the overall experience they have with your company. To cook up your own memorable customer journey, you need the right recipe. This recipe should contain only the finest ingredients to satisfy your customers’ evolving tastes.

The key to creating the customer experience you want is having the right technology in place to support your customers at every point along their journey with your business. In this series of six articles, we’ll be describing four essential ingredients for building great customer journeys. I’ll provide an overview here, and in the following articles, you’ll find a deep dive into each ingredient in the great customer journey recipe.

When Does the Customer Journey Begin and End?

It’s the journey that counts, not the destination. You’ve probably heard this statement before—it's something of a cliché about life. But could it apply to your business? Take a moment to think about your customers. When do they “arrive” at their final destination? You’d probably like their journey with your business to be long and fruitful.

So, when exactly does the customer journey with your company begin? Is it when customers purchase their first product, or when they make contact through one of your communication channels? It’s actually before that, when a customer hears about your business or organization for the first time. The customer journey starts with awareness. That’s why your marketing team is hard at work making sure people hear about you.

The next step in the customer journey is engagement, and this is where the customer experience in your contact center begins. Engagement revolves around developing an ongoing and loyal relationship with your customers, leading to increased retention, revenue, and reach. We’re going to explore this area of the customer journey in this article series.

However, the journey doesn’t end when your customers’ contact center interaction is over. If their experience is great at every step along the way, your customers will become advocates of your product or service and keep coming back for more. At this stage, the cycle continues back at awareness once again, only now, your customers are the ones making sure people hear about you.

Customer Journey and the Contact Center

Contact centers, traditionally called call centers, have come a long way from the days when phone support was the main method of contact between customers and companies. Today, contact center agents interact with customers through a variety of channels. Within the span of a few minutes, an agent could be on a live chat assisting a customer who is browsing your website, sending an SMS that lets a customer know her order has been shipped, or answering a technical question delivered via Facebook Messenger.

The contact center is the central means of communication many businesses have with their customers. Traditional, phone-based call centers have evolved into omnichannel contact centers designed to deliver a great customer experience. These modern contact centers are built with APIs, software building blocks that let you create the exact experiences you want. But if your contact center technology is stuck in the 90s, your customer experience is too.

So, how do you create the customer journey that will turn customers into your biggest fans? Just like your journey with the beloved restaurant you rave about, a great contact center customer journey is made up of essential ingredients. These are the four key ingredients you’ll need to cook up a great customer journey in your contact center:

- Customizability

- Omnichannel

- Contextual intelligence

- Scalability

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Customizability

Every communication your customers have with your business flows through your contact center. If the experience falls short, so does your bottom line. That’s why the freedom to build the exact customer experiences you want, when you want them, is so important.

Great customer experiences aren’t built only once. When your contact center allows you to customize freely at every level of the stack, you can use analytics to track, measure, and iterate the components of your contact center just like you do with your webpage or mobile app. Look for a contact center solution that lets you customize in the following ways:

- User Interface (UI)

Make sure the platform lets you modify your customer, agent, and supervisor UI with templating, or change it entirely as often as you like.

- Workflows

You’ll want to create interaction flows, IVRs, and bots for every step of the journey. Look for options with a drag-and-drop editor so that non-developers can create workflows too.

- Routing

Routing allows you to assign tasks to the right agent with attribute-based logic. It’s a must for creating a great customer journey.

- Integrations

Be sure you can integrate your contact center with your CRM and other data sources so you can see your data all in one place.

With a customizable contact center, you can use insights from your customer data to continually improve the journey.

Omnichannel

Your customers communicate on multiple channels all day long. They text, talk, chat, message, and more, and so should you. Ideally, your contact center will allow you to be everywhere your customers are. An omnichannel system lets your customers engage the way they want to, while keeping track of context for a seamless and personalized experience throughout the customer journey.

Preferred channels of communication change frequently. Today, your customers may like SMS, chat, and email, while tomorrow they might want video, Facebook Messenger, and anything else you can imagine. Look for a contact center solution that lets you deploy multiple channels instantly, and easily add custom ones. You’ll want to make sure your customers can seamlessly move between channels—such as switching from a live web chat to a voice call—while maintaining context for your agents.

Look for the ability to connect to your customers via these channels and more:

- Video

Enable face-to-face conversations for identity verification, content sharing, or visual problem resolution—all within your app.

- Chat

Complete transactions and transfer rich, context-aware data over secure web chat.

- SMS

Provide direct messaging between customers and agents for quick resolution.

- Voice

Let customers reach you by phone, or schedule a call back from your website or app.

- Social media messaging and more

Look for a software option that allows you to add new channels as they become popular, such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and whatever new trend is right around the corner.

Contextual Intelligence

Merriam-Webster defines artificial intelligence (AI) as “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.” In a modern contact center, the difference between a so-so customer journey and a great one can often be made by utilizing contextual intelligence—the magic that happens when AI meets context.

AI capabilities are increasing by leaps and bounds each year. New advancements in AI have made natural language understanding, sentiment analysis, and conversational bots sophisticated additions to any contact center. With contextual intelligence, it’s easy to capture and leverage customer information and route it to agents to deliver a personalized “wow” experience. AI can also free up your agents to focus on high-value issues that require a human touch.

Look for a contact center solution that has the hooks to add your own AI at any step of the customer journey, at any level of the stack. Make suyorue can add the following intelligence options:

- Conversational Bots

Bots gather customer information and provide enhanced self-service. They can extend your service hours, provide proactive support, and increase engagement.

- Natural Language Understanding (NLU)

NLU technology extracts meaning from spoken words to make automated interactions more human.

- Sentiment Analysis

Gain insight into how your customers are feeling with phrase detection, call scoring, and recording redaction.

Trust and Scale

The fourth key ingredient to a great customer journey is one that may not be as evident, because it underpins all the other technology in your contact center: the trust and scale of a reliable cloud communications platform. When you’re designing your ideal customer journey, network diagrams, servers, and redundant power sources are the last things you should be worried about. Instead, choose a leading cloud communications platform with a proven track record for reliability, security, and operational excellence.

Your platform should offer global connectivity, giving you the ability to reach everyone in the world right from the start. Make sure it handles all of the logic and intricacies, like user segmentation, privacy, and security, so you can focus on what matters. Look for a cloud platform that offers the following:

- Carrier Partner Network

To be able to reliably offer a network with voice, SMS/MMS, and cellular connectivity for IoT services, that is high quality (known as “carrier grade”), your provider has to work with dozens of carriers. Choose a global carrier-grade network with phone numbers in at least 100 countries.

- 99.99% Uptime SLA

You don’t want to think about the reliability of your network. Look for 99.99% uptime, which means the cloud platform is only down, on average, less than 0.01% of the time.

- Intelligent Infrastructure

Make sure the platform is using the latest in AI, machine learning, and software to identify problems as quickly as possible.

The Perfect Customer Journey Recipe

Every business is different, and so are their customers’ needs. Likewise, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the customer journey. To create an ongoing superior customer journey, you need to develop the perfect recipe for your contact center.

First, your contact center must offer the customizability to flex and change as often as you like. Next, you must be accessible to your customers on all the channels they use, with integrated context for a seamless experience. Third, look for the latest in AI technology and natural language understanding so you can communicate intelligently with your customers and provide faster resolutions. And last, with your communications based in the cloud on a secure platform, you’ll be able to focus on building unique communication experiences with your customers instead of dealing with the messiness of traditional telecommunication.

As long as your recipe includes these four key ingredients, you’ll be well on your way to five-star reviews.

Want to dive deeper? We wrote an entire e-book on the subject. Download the Four Essential Ingredients for a Modern Contact Center.

Coming soon: Check out Part 2 to learn all about customizability, Part 3 for insights into omnichannel, Part 4 for a deep dive into contextual intelligence, Part 5 to understand the importance of trust and scale, and don’t miss the difference between SaaS, CPaaS, and CCaaS in Part 6.