The Customer Is The Channel

The customer-centric blog of Linc Global

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Multi-Channel Customer Journeys Are The New Reality

The linear customer journey–a straight line from research to engagement to purchase where everything hinges on conversion and where the brand shepherds the customer along a particular path–is dead. Today’s customer journey looks more like creating a landscape of physical and digital touchpoints across which your customers will roam, choosing when and where they’ll interact with your brand. Your job is to provide the GPS for this journey and ensure that each interaction they have with you as they traverse this landscape of touchpoints is both seamless and consistent.

Creating this landscape requires  bridging functional silos such as marketing, logistics, customer service, social and ecommerce within your organization. While each functional area may use different tools and getting these tools and the people who use them to talk to each other is often difficult, it’s ultimately the customer who suffers if you can’t find cohesion. The new multi-channel CX landscape demands a seamless integration and hand-off between each stopping point on the customer journey and the platforms that power it. The customer shouldn’t feel as if they’re crossing a border into foreign territory when they interact with different aspects of your business. And tolerance for subpar customer care is non-existent. Over 80% of consumers claim that they’ve left a brand after a single negative experience.

 

Go holistic or bust: The need for an integrated CX approach

The need for retailers to have a single customer view to ensure a consistent positive experience across all the channels via which they interact with shoppers has only grown more critical as the number of channels and the volume of customer data generated has increased. Aggregating and analyzing customer data and using it to tailor your customer engagement efforts was simpler when shoppers were only coming into your physical storefront, calling your 1-800 number or ordering from your seasonal catalog. Today, they’re also tweeting at you, asking Alexa to reorder more of your product and signing up for text notifications about shipping status. The number of touchpoints an average customers has with your brand before they purchase is increasing, along with the pressure to create a seamless, integrated experience across these touchpoints. The push to gather all of the related fragments of customer data together into a single view has become more urgent than ever and silos are no longer an option. Shoppers won't tolerate interactions that exist in a vacuum, where they're forced to continually repeat their query or reference their order details as they're bounced from one contact point to another. They’re seeking smart, personalized and seamless experiences that are able to effectively meet their needs quickly. Delivering to those needs requires that your customer care efforts be coordinated and highly contextual.

Paths to Customer Journey

Prove you care: Leveraging CX as a competitive advantage

According to Gallup, engaged customers represent a 23% premium over average customers when it comes to wallet share, profitability, revenue and relationship growth. Engaged customers buy more from you, they buy more often and they’re more likely to recommend your brand to others. But profitable engagement doesn't come cheap. This is especially true in retail, where managing customer care costs across the ever-expanding landscape of engagement channels is top of mind. While retailers will spend exponentially more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one, taking care of an existing one can still be pricey: our own research shows that 55% of retailers report that they’re experiencing an increase in customer care costs. Pair this with the increasing competitive pressure and you can easily see why the retail industry as a whole is looking to crack the code on cost-effective customer engagement.

Customer Journey

Given the growing HR costs associated with customer care and the fact that dramatically increasing headcount is not financially viable for most retailers, many are looking to automation to better serve their customers. Self-service options, like an FAQ or knowledge base, are a good first step, but they solve less than 10% of a customer’s needs. The most common pain points– help with a return or exchange, updates on order status– require a more guided, two-way interaction between the brand and the customer. Brands that realize this are turning an eye to AI as a cost-effective, scalable way to meet customer expectations and animate that new customer journey landscape.

 

Done right, customer care automation allows you to leverage the data you have about customers to personalize and contextualize their experience with you across channels. This means that your automated assistant is able to draw on your integrated customer view to know what a particular shopper has bought (and returned) in the past and what shoppers of a similar profile have bought. It can cross-sell and upsell and suggest complementary products or repurchases of past orders based on the customer’s own history. Smart customer care automation makes your shopper feel known and valued by your brand, which fosters brand loyalty, longer retention and increased customer lifetime value–the lifeblood of modern retailers.

You can learn more about the customer experience and how automating the shopper experience can engage your customers at every touchpoint by exploring Linc’s platform and solutions pages. Or take a look at how leading brands like Lamps Plus, JustFab.com and others are using an automated shopper experience platform as part of their customer experience strategies in their businesses today, in our resources page

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