In an era where customers expect frictionless service and immediate response at every touchpoint, success is to a large extent based on how well companies can rise to these demands and expectations. That’s why it’s paramount to make the customer experience smooth, consistent and relevant throughout the customer journey.
The digital age has empowered costumers with the ability to demand more from the companies they do business with. This can be exemplified through the expectation of real-time availability at all stages of the customer journey and at different touchpoints - social, digital, direct, in-store, mobile, and call center.
By delivering exceptional customer experiences, companies can acquire new customers, retain more customers, and improve efficiency. But the real question is, how can you do this in a cost-effective and easy way? The answer is spelled Customer Journey Management (CJM).
Customer Journey Management is about managing the customer journey and the customer’s experience by integrating and improving every touch point from the first moment of engagement, pre-arrival to post-service. By bridging the gap between the different steps by integrating the virtual and physical world, you create seamless customer journeys.
A 6-step process for creating a successful customer journey
The process of mapping and ultimately achieving the perfect customer journey starts off by identifying quantifiable findings, quick wins, and opportunities to improve the customer experience. Here are 6 steps that look at the entire customer service operation and how that affects the different phases of the customer journey.
CJM can start before the customers physically visit the shop, bank, hospital or service center. By implementing appointment solutions that enables customers to book an appointment before arrival and later use mobile solutions such as Mobile Ticket to queue virtually, you can eliminate the pain of waiting and provide a positive impact on the customer’s service experience. For the service provider, CJM can be a tool to control and steer the flow of customers away from peak hours to less busy parts of the day. It can also be a powerful tool that delivers the pre-visit data required for the service provider to staff more appropriately and deliver better customer service.
On arrival, customers need to be placed in an appropriate queue. Customer Journey Management stresses the possibility of segmenting the customers in different queues if appropriate, rather than entering all customers in the same queue. The most common segmentation is based on customer needs, e.g. separate queues for separate services. Customers with more complex service requirements can then be managed separately, which reduces the wait time for other customers, and improves their service experience. It also allows the service provider to match customers with the staff who have the most suitable competence to respond to their need.
3. Queuing and Waiting
After arrival and queue entry most customers will endure a period of waiting. A balanced and controlled waiting period is the optimal result for a manager. No one wants to have a completely empty waiting area, as it would most likely mean you are overstaffed. CJM can help managers get the balance just right by improving staff planning and by adding more flexibility to the processes. From a customer journey perspective this step has the greatest risk of impacting customer service experience negatively if not managed appropriately.
If the service provider chooses to identify the customers as soon as they enter the queue, then the staff calling the customer forward can start preparations before the customer arrives at the service point. For example, staff could call up the customer’s history on their screen to see every visit the customer has made before, who they saw and what the enquiry was about. When the customer is being served, data on their visit can be captured and made available for real-time insight through management dashboards. It can also be stored for later use. For instance, management could use the information to view customer wait times or find out how long different transactions take to complete. This also enables management to have an instant overview of the service situation at one or several locations in real time. CJM provides the ability to see details such as number of open counters, services offered, current waiting times, and number of customers seen at each counter as well as transaction times. Alert mechanisms can give the manager the opportunity to take action if waiting times exceed preset limits.
After a customer has been served, staff closes the transaction and relevant data – like wait-time and transaction time – are recorded. If required, a case handling function can continue to manage the case throughout its lifetime, from the time it is created, signed over to different advisors or different departments and until the case is closed. Each step is documented and processed. Another crucial aspect in the post-service phase is to gather customer feedback. By enabling customers to rate their visit and provide feedback, the gathered feedback can be used to analyze the quality of customer service from different parameters. Everything from staff competence, interpersonal interaction, and operating standards to areas of improvement. This is a valuable source of information, which serves as the foundation to know what customers want most, and when and where they want to engage with you.
When data from the journey process is gathered and stored managers can, at any point in time, use that data to evaluate the current processes. Reports can be generated on employee/customer interactions, service times and customer wait times. Operational inefficiencies can be identified and addressed through process changes or training. Trend analysis provided by system reports help the user to manage staff in line with peaks and quieter times in the service area. Customer segmentation, staff scheduling, media content, etc. can be tested, evaluated and modified based on insights from analysis of the gathered data. Statistical reports are also useful tools for achieving and reporting on a variety of organizational targets. For service providers with targets related to service levels rather than profits, the information captured by the CJM system can be an important tool for measuring and evaluating performance. As the system can be seamlessly connected to any number of service access points over a wide geographical area, managers can have a complete overview of their service network.
With CJM, companies can adopt a customer-centric perspective that creates rich customer experiences by incorporating different ways for customers to book appointments, queue, and meet qualified staff. With increased levels of service comes higher customer satisfaction which might be the most important benefit of them all. But successful customer journey management is also about creating rewarding work environments for staff. This is achieved both on a day to day basis, through a system that supports staff needs, as the enablement of planning and allocating resources contributes to creating a healthy work environment.
In the end, customer journey management, when done properly, is developed for you to hit your organizational targets by operational optimization. No matter if they’re about service levels, efficiency, or profitability.