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You can’t get through the day as a marketer or customer experience professional without hearing about the importance of the customer journey. Yes, we all know that the customer should be at the center of all we do. Those of us in the contact center have been putting the customer first for decades.

But how can we do a better job of integrating and enhancing contact center touch points with the overall customer experience? How do we ensure that we are maximizing the impact of these important interactions and not approach customer contact center as an afterthought? If you are going to organize around the customer, mapping your customer’s journey needs to be a priority.

It may seem like a daunting task, but any effort you put in to really understand your customer experience will pay off. While there are a number of resources on the subject, this article is focused on some practical steps you can adopt to begin understanding the overall customer journey and the opportunities to leverage the contact center experience.

Steps to Creating a Better Customer Journey

Step 1: Understand the reasons customers seek out your products or services

Why do you have customers in the first place? This may seem like a silly question, but it’s one of the most important things to answer and understand in the whole customer journey process. Why do people seek or need your products or services? What is the job they are trying to do? What is the problem they are trying to solve? Depending on your business, the answer to this question may be fairly straightforward or it may be complex. At any rate, there are reasons people reach out for help and you need to be able to understand those needs and motivators, so you can deliver an exceptional experience.

For example, one multi-campus college was struggling under the weight of over 10,000 financial aid calls per month. By analyzing the reasons for student calls, the school found that many students were unaware of the online financial aid portal, which allows students to see if their paperwork has been received and get answers to other common questions. By better promoting the portal, the school was able to divert students to the website for answers to simple questions, thereby reducing call volumes.

Step 2: Identify all the potential touch points and outcomes

This is where you begin to create the customer journey map — a marketing tool that can be extremely helpful in optimizing your customer’s journey and aligning your organization around the customer experience.

This is a visualization of customer interactions through many filters (emotional/rational) organized from your customer’s perspective. Approach this as a living document that evolves as your organization works to improve the customer experience ongoing.

Building on the motivators that bring people into your customer’s journey, you can begin to document the various paths a customer might take during their journey. For every motivation or need, there are usually
multiple paths. You should consider:

•What are the steps the customer could take to meet their needs, accomplish a job, etc.?
•Where does the customer actively and passively touch your brand?
•Where does your brand actively and passively touch the customer?

Map the multiple interaction points of a customer’s engagement with your brand, throughout the journey. A customer journey map should provide the framework to understand how customers engage with your brand across time and multiple channels. It should illustrate where and when your customers experience satisfaction or pain points.

And remember, your customer’s journey extends far beyond the purchase. By mapping the journey, you can identify where and when you need contact center as an option for engagement.

Step 3: Evaluate the journey

Once you have mapped the journey, start taking the journey from your customer’s perspective. This can be a real eye-opening experience. What is working well? Where are there roadblocks? Where is the experience less than exceptional? From a contact center perspective, you should identify:

•Are there places along the journey where human contact or customer self-service might provide for a better experience?
•Where do abandoned calls or long hold times occur?
•What are the main reasons for calling, chatting or emailing?
•Where can the customer experience be improved?
•What job are they trying to get done? How can you make it easier?•How do they prefer to receive information?
•What other channels have they utilized already to try to solve their issue?
•Which channels do they use? Where does contact center fit?
•Are you able to tell which channels and interactions really work?

Step 4: Create a better customer experience

Once you have identified areas for improvement in your
 customer’s journey, you can begin to build a roadmap for change. The results may be overwhelming, but the good news is you now have a foundational tool for identifying, prioritizing and aligning with your organization to take steps toward a better customer experience.

Through customer journey mapping, you will discover:

•Areas for better data acquisition or alignment.
•Opportunities to create better alignment across the organization.
•The need for a single view of customer to better meet the needs of your customer.
•Where processes can be improved.
•Where poor experiences can be eliminated or improved.
•Where marketing automation can be improved or evolved.
•When reporting may need to be modified.
•Where you can improve your customer’s experience across the journey.

The customer experience is largely driven by emotion. Delivering a great customer experience requires empathy — seeing what the customer sees, as well as feeling what the customer feels. This is no truer than with the contact center experience, as it is the last remaining human interaction in today’s digital world. In many cases, it is the only human interaction a customer or buyer will have with your brand.

From an insights perspective, the contact center is in a position to gain valuable insights into customer needs. Unfortunately, contact center is often disconnected from other parts of the organization, such as marketing and other key departments, causing those insights to be lost.

How Customer Journey Mapping Creates a Better Customer Experience

Customer journey mapping is a great way to align the organization around the customer experience and the steps that need to be taken to drive improvement within the contact center experience and beyond.

A well-defined contact center experience aligned with the customer journey can deliver:

• Intuitive online order processes.
• Friendly return policies.
• Intelligent and easy to use IVR systems.
• Effective customer support representative staffing and management.
• Successful loyalty programs.
• Compelling marketing campaigns with a customer focus.
• Better customer satisfaction.
• Social advocacy.

Remember, every interaction with your brand matters. One negative experience can result in a lost customer, but one that is well-managed, easy and personal can create a fierce brand loyalist. Customer journey mapping.

Mapping a Better Customer Experience for Contact Center