Today’s customer service expectations are higher than ever, while many perceive that customer service hasn’t improved.
According to a study by HubSpot, 90% of customer service leaders have reported that customer expectations have increased to an all-time high. On the other side, an NBC study found that nearly 75% of respondents said that customer service worsened during the pandemic.
In an era of such sky-high customer expectations, how can companies compete in the market while delivering the type of service that customers expect?
The answer may be the construction of a unified customer experience.
A unified customer experience (UCE) is a system that ensures that every customer interaction is matched in content, functionality and cohesive branding — across multiple touchpoints and channels. No matter where the customer interacts with your business, whether through a mobile app or in a physical location, the customer experience must be consistently exceptional.
By establishing a standard for customer interaction, companies can unify a brand that customers recognize across different channels and come to rely on. With loyal customers more than five times more likely to purchase again — and four times more likely to refer a friend — customer experience management must be a priority for any business.
A unified customer experience requires its parts to work in tandem to find success, from communication to a better understanding of what the customer wants. This includes:
It happens far too often that individual sales channels can find themselves siloed from other parts of the business, with the online side engaged in poor communication with the physical storefront.
By building out a capable, unified customer experience, companies can consolidate the different sales channels in their network and streamline communication..
In a unified customer experience, the needs and desires of the customer are first and foremost — a concept each employee must understand.
Every decision should be accomplished with consideration of how it can improve the life of your customer, from product development to marketing and sales.
Developing comprehensive customer profiles is critical to the success of any customer-first initiative. They should be updated in real-time to include valuable information such as purchase history, service tickets or inquiries.
By utilizing user profiles, you can gain a better understanding of your clientele and set yourself up for future success.
The accurate usage of data analysis is an essential part of a unified cx. Through the study of customer data, businesses can uncover and understand their customers' preferences, goals and needs, as well as the best way to communicate with them.
If an analysis of your customer data suggests that your base responds well to an email campaign, you can undertake it with a reasonable idea of the success rate for such a campaign.
Beyond an analysis of customer data, companies looking to include a UCE would do well to get customer engagement feedback directly from the customers themselves.
From surveys and social media management, customers will often tell you directly what they want and are looking for. Forward-thinking companies should use this readily available information to make proper changes to processes and policies.
Companies that have successfully implemented a unified customer experience can expect many benefits, including:
A unified customer experience is ideal for lowering customers because of how customer data is stored. As stated above, by consolidating customer information and analytics across multiple channels, users are able to access them all within a single location.
Because users no longer have to perform redundant actions of searching for and retrieving data, it will save them time, effort and, ultimately, resources.
To improve customer satisfaction, the answer is often quite simple: what are you doing to make the customer’s life easier and more expedited?
With a UCE, customers will typically receive faster responses to their inquiries and quicker conclusions to their issues — improving their overall experience and enticing them to future purchases.
One of the primary goals and results of a unified customer experience is to improve collaboration across disparate teams and departments.
By increasing internal collaboration, employees will be able to streamline information sharing, improve communication and raise efficiency.
UCE platforms are often powered by artificial intelligence (AI) programs to automate a multitude of customer support tasks, including prioritizing messages and routing them to the right teams. This process can help free employees to spend time on alternative tasks.
Doing what you can to ease the life of your employees will go a long way toward increasing job satisfaction and improving morale.
Customer loyalty and retention are the lifeblood of any growing business. Getting a customer to purchase a single product or service is one thing — having them come back for more is another.
If customers are treated well and their needs met, they are more likely to return to the brand and show loyalty. Possibly even more importantly? A great experience can lead them to share their experience with friends and family, driving even more tremendous customer growth.
To create and implement a successful ecommerce unified customer experience, there a few technologies that are needed, including:
A CDP is a software that collects and consolidates personal data from different channels to build a single source of data.
With this information, businesses can analyze, track and manage disparate customer interactions through the use of dashboards and metrics.
A CXM is a system that collects customer insights through the use of marketing strategies, such as surveys and various analytic tools.
Through this information, a CXM allows businesses to find customer experience inconsistencies that they can address.
A DXP is a platform that allows companies to optimize the digital customer experience and journey.
This can be accomplished through tools such as experience design, content management and knowledge sharing.
A CCaaS solution is a SaaS-based application that enables organizations to manage and integrate multiple channels of customer interactions.
CCaaS aligns with the omnichannel model, in which each customer touchpoint is measured and used to inform different channels.
Crafting a unified customer experience platform is a serious undertaking for any organization, as it has the potential to transform the way that you interact with your customers.
When implementing a UCE, the following best practices can help you to find success:
Before undertaking the unified customer experience program, you must first understand the customers you are attempting to reach.
What are they looking for? What are their demographic characteristics? What will help to retain them as future customers?
Once you understand your target customer base, you can create a customer experience plan with them in mind.
When creating a UCE, it is critical that you ensure that your brand vision is represented across all channels and platforms, from branding aesthetics to your style guide.
Beyond visual and grammatical appearance, your brand messaging should be displayed across each and every touchpoint.
No matter if a customer contacts you via social media, an online chat feature or through email, the consistent experience and quality of service they receive should remain excellent.
Implementing AI and automated systems such as chatbots can help raise your platform's efficiency and free up time and resources for employees.
However, there is still a fine line between quality customer service and robotic automation. It is easy for a customer to become frustrated at an AI chatbot that doesn’t respond the way they would prefer.
Ensure that there is a balance between automated systems and human interaction to prevent customer frustration and maintain a human connection.
An oft-missed part of any consolidation process, when teams are used to working in disparate solutions or siloed departments, it is easy for them to be overlooked when implementing training procedures.
That is a critical mistake.
When implementing a unified customer experience, ensure that your teams and department are all trained to use the new platform proficiently. With so much emphasis on a single system, any gap in competency will only serve to harm the customer experience.
As referred to above, silos can be an incredible detriment to any unified customer experience. The roles and responsibilities of different departments — not to mention the disparate systems used — can easily lead to the siloing of groups, who all tend to specific organizational functions.
With a unified customer experience, it is critical that these silos are broken down and that bridges are built between departments. Different teams should understand how their roles differentiate but in a manner conducive towards broader collaboration.
By unifying the customer experience into a single source of data, companies can set customers up for success by better understanding customer needs, desires and goals — no matter where they’re at on their journey.
A quality customer experience is about more than just messaging or increasing revenue. It is about building a system in which the customer has a consistent grasp at what they’re looking for and how they can best find it.
A unified customer profile (UCP) is a platform or program that aggregates real-time data across multiple customer touchpoints and channels to deliver a complete, unified view of the customer.
In essence, each customer has an online journey as they move through the customer lifecycle, from the first time they visit a site to when they finally checkout. This occurs through different sales channels, whether it’s in-store or online.
By gaining a greater understanding of how customers react through each stage of the customer journey, businesses can better implement policies and procedures to retain and bring in new shoppers.
Customer experience mapping is the process of building out a visual representation of the customer journey. It provides a more extensive understanding of the needs and concerns of potential customers.
Experience maps highlight complex customer interactions as well as potential pain points, allowing businesses to contract the best possible plans for customer experience.
One of the greatest attributes of a unified customer experience is that almost any business can take advantage of it.
In an increasingly digital and online world, businesses that don’t use multiple channels of customer interaction risk losing a competitive advantage. With a UCE, this process is made more accessible, allowing you to consolidate each aspect of the customer journey — across different channels — into a single source of information.
Whether you are a large organization — with thousands of employees — or a mom-and-pop shop who have just started listing products on Amazon and Etsy, a unified experience can give you insights into what your customers are looking for and how best you can serve them.