Connected Listening: 3 Tips to Meet the CX Challenges of Omni-Channel Communication

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It’s essential CX practice today to offer customers a range of channels through which they can interact with you. But adding new channels is only half the battle. It’s the CX team’s responsibility to coordinate them, too. At the B2B technology company for which I work, we call it connected listening.

For many companies, adding channels means adding silos to an already siloed organization. Lack of coordination across those channels can defeat the purpose and cause frustration for customers, who don’t care that your call center and web experience team operate separately from one another, or that your mobile app development team rarely communicates with your store or branch network.

CX organizations are uniquely positioned and skilled to ensure that organizations are offering customers great omni-channel experiences. Here are some guidelines to make the most of the omni-channel boom.

1. Make sure data is consistent across channels.

When my company built our CX organization a few years ago, we organized it across departmental lines. From the executive steering committee to the CX Catalyst workgroup, we made sure we had representation from each department—sales, service, marketing, support, product development, web development—focused on CX priorities.

What’s changed in the intervening years is the proliferation of channels. Customers interact with us on mobile apps, on Facebook, on our community portal page. Each of those channels is owned by a different part of the organization.

Our digital team manages customer-initiated feedback on our website; the contact center manages online and phone requests; our product and IT teams share primary responsibility for managing our online community. We found this structure made it increasingly difficult to get a clear view of customer experience across all these varied touchpoints. So, we took an inventory of the data we already had across channels.

This exercise resulted in a couple of interesting findings. First, we found different teams were using different scorecards. That is, the metric used to measure customer satisfaction wasn’t consistent across channels. Some were using Overall Satisfaction. Others were using Net Promoter Scores (NPS), etc. This resulted in a fractured view of our customers’ experience with us. Another finding and, arguably, the most critical, was that we were measuring channel data rather than looking at what the customer was trying to accomplish across those channels – and whether the customer journey across channels was successful, easy or frustrating.

So, we made some changes. We started by mapping the tasks that customers were attempting to complete. Then we looked at where and how we were gathering customer feedback and how we were combining the feedback to create insights. This created another dimension for our journey maps as we visualized the same gaps that our customers were feeling. It started our CX organization on the path to using omni-channel data to obtain customer insights that truly put us in the customer’s shoes. As a result, our teams have expanded the gathering of customer feedback to include key points across the customer journey while standardizing the language of customer satisfaction.

2. Use data to drive CX program design.

Once metrics are consistent and focused on customer outcomes, Voice of the Customer (VoC) data from surveys, digital feedback and speech and text analytics technology can help you spot the source of CX problems. Are customer complaints specific to your entire organization? Is there something consistent across a single team? Or is it just a single agent? Essentially, VoC provides the “why” behind the “what.” Used wisely in a connected listening approach, VoC data collected from one channel can be the foundation for improvements in another one.

VoC data showed my CX organization that customers didn’t want a new customer support portal we were considering designing for opening a new service request. They saw our existing online customer community a perfect place for the ticketing system.

In response, we have a design project currently in development to integrate our customer support ticketing system, knowledge base and online community. Originally, the new ticketing system portal would have required customers to log in to a separate site to request support. However, since there were discussion threads, documents and other resources already in the online community, it made sense that our customers much preferred having the ticketing system there.

In this way, we’ve looked at the customer outcome—entering and tracking a customer support issue—and designed a cross-channel solution that makes the process easier for them and better streamlined operationally for us.

3. Use data to find the ‘secret sauce.’

VoC tools can show that certain self-service steps that you think necessary are actually getting in the way of customers, or that additional steps or instructions are needed to create a smooth self-service experience. You can also use VoC findings from self-service channels to improve agent training in the contact center, and to provide agents with a better knowledge set when calls escalate to the contact center from self-service channels.

In addition to identifying training and coaching opportunities, we are using VoC data from our various channels to identify segments of customers and how their satisfaction scores compare with one another. Then we look at operational data for each group to try to identify the “secret sauce”—what made their experience better? Were resolution times lower? Were service representatives handling issues differently? Or were their issues less complex to begin with? If they had a complex request, how many channels were involved in solving it, and why? Was it a matter of customer choice or customer expediency to switch from one channel to another to accomplish their goal?

We’ve also found that simply providing opportunities for various teams to meet regularly on specific customer interactions helps uncover new ways to serve customers better that might not even have been on the agenda for the meeting or that seem unrelated. It can be something as simple as figuring out that if another team were involved, you could get a vital piece of information before serving the customer and do it faster and better.

You can also ensure that messaging is consistent and branding standards are enforced across channels. The last thing you want to do is confuse or frustrate customers by offering a special discount on one channel but not on others, or create a graphic or message that looks or sounds as if it comes from a different company.

Focus on the outcome, not the channel

Data comes from your website, your mobile apps, your call center, your stores. Traditionally, different teams manage that feedback and act on it separately within their own channel or department. What’s missing is a view of the big picture. For most companies, the CX team is perfectly positioned to provide it … with a little digging.

I co-presented a webinar on this topic recently with Diane Magers, CEO of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). Diane firmly agrees that data can help you see if you are on the right track in your CX program design. “Data can help you see the rainy days and the wrenches and the things that get in way,” she said. “But it also can help you build the customer story across each channel—and get greater business value from them.”

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