Successful enterprises try to understand and foresee every step of their prospective customers. To tell the truth, brands try to predict customers' thoughts and actions before they even think of them. There is how high business outcomes are gained.
To achieve the above-mentioned business goals, a business created tactics and metrics that assist in understanding customer behavior and let us save effort and time in this complicated process. One such instrument is a customer journey map and the customer journey as a general concept.
If we talk about any industry, it is absolutely clear that the customer journey is the entire complex of customers’ interactions with the brand, both directly and indirectly. But we are talking about the call center industry where not all interactions are related to sales only. Is a customer journey as vital in this industry as it is for other niches?
The first spoiler: yes, call center customer journey is a vital tool, and it is maybe the most crucial part of tracking customer experiences, customer engagement and satisfaction. Additionally, it is the only way to see the dynamics of customer interactions and the result of each interaction, as well as their influence on relations between potential customers and a brand.
But how is the call center customer journey measured? What is the difference between the contact center customer journey and the common sales customer journey? How to construct the customer journey map for a call center?
Let’s try to find it out together.
Call center customer journey: definition and characteristics
In general, the call center customer journey works the same as customer journey for other niches - it is the whole history of customer interactions from the first one until the last one. To make the case clearer, the first interaction is almost always the moment when the client discovers how he or she can get in touch with you - that’s where the customer journey begins. The last interaction, but not the end of the customer journey, is the moment when clients get their main goal - purchase, assistance, answer, and so on. The end of the customer journey appears only when the customer leaves your brand.
All interactions between these two moments, such as conversations with agents by phone, chats, emails, and all support tickets that have been registered during the customer service journey form the entire call center customer journey. Each of these interactions is called customer touchpoints in contact centers and is similarly significant as any other interaction throughout the customer journey.
Customer journey is also formed as a kind of funnel or multistage process, so it has its own phases.
Call center customer journey stages
The customer journey in a contact center is divided into five stages of the customer journey, and this is a generally accepted classification for all customer journey concepts. Our goal is to understand how a call center can be involved in each stage of the customer journey to improve customer satisfaction and provide better service.
Awareness customer journey stage
This is the first stage of the call center customer journey, and maybe the most important because it is where the customer journey begins. This is the stage where customers do their research and compare various offerings, so your brand positioning and visibility on different platforms play the main role. Think of how you are represented on such resources, as your website, social media, review websites, and so on.
How is the contact center involved: At this stage contact center isn’t involved at all, but at this stage of customer journey clients may use some digital channels without intervening agents, such as chatbots or IVR system (rarely, but still) to do their research. So, it is just another proof that contact centers are being involved on all stages of customer journey - and that’s the way call centers have changed in the last few years.
Consideration customer journey stage
This is about more close interaction with your brand. If you have passed the first stage of customer journey, when the comparison and evaluation are over, then you will take part in the second phase of the race where the customer shortens his list of possible vendors - and that’s where we can say that customer journey is now about the customer, not a prospect. Now customers move to direct comparison between a few companies and make the final purchase decision on which one they would like to purchase the product - so your goal is to win the competition.
How is the contact center involved: Even though this stage of customer journey has many similarities with the awareness stage of the customer journey, people can ask questions to your sales team via email or web chat. At this stage of customer journey the first meeting between the customer and product happens - customers can ask for a demo, presentation, or something else to check the product's capabilities in real-life conditions. Thus, your call center sales team is involved on this customer journey stage.
Conversion customer journey stage
Congratulations, you are a champion - at this stage of the customer journey, customers are ready to make a purchase. You have already got the competitive advantage, won the competition and there is a little left until the awaited purchase will happen and the sales funnel closes - but not the customer journey.
How is the contact center involved: At this phase of the customer journey of the path customers can call agents to get details about the purchasing process, or with any other buying-related inquiries.
Service and Retention customer journey stage
The main part of the process is completely about your contact center. This stage can take a long period of time as customers may need repetitive assistance and face numerous customer issues during their customer journey that have to be resolved by the customer service team. We can go even further and name this complete customer journey stage as a little call center customer journey inside the bigger customer journey that involves other departments of your company, as the entire history of customer interaction with the customer service team is completely another universe - and this universe is also a customer journey stage.
How is the contact center involved: At all processes at this customer journey stage contact center plays the main role. Special offerings, assistance, announcements, greetings, and complaints - all are sent and processed inside of the contact center. This is also the longest part of customer journey - customers may come back for repetitive or extra purchases, but the customer journey is going on since the first purchase and the end of the customer journey comes only when all relations between you and client are over, which would better never happen.
Advocacy, or Customer loyalty customer journey stage
This stage is extremely important if you don’t want to invest thousands of dollars into finding new customers. As it is said, one old client is better than two new ones. All studies prove that customer retention is much cheaper than customer acquisition, so businesses that ignore this rule get huge money and time losses as a consequence.
How is the contact center involved: Mostly as an omnichannel outbound communication platform to keep customers informed about new offers or special proposals.
How to build a call center customer journey map?
Surprisingly, it is another paragraph where we are talking about the five stages of one customer journey process. A customer journey map is a visual representation of the call center customer journey, so it is your main tool for understanding, analyzing, and decision-making about the call center customer journey concerning customer service, sales, and so on.
The customer journey in a call center determines many things: how distinct target audiences do their interactions, what communication channels they prefer, how the customer care journey starts and why, why customer journey ends in different cases, and so on.
But to build the right customer journey map for customer service, you have to understand it and construct the customer journey map in accordance with specific rules and requirements.
Determine the customer portrait
A customer service journey map starts with the customer persona, and the more details it would contain the better it is for you and your business, and for the quality of customer journey map too. You have to understand who comes to you for a purchase at least because this data can point to such vital aspects as purchasing power, customer expectations, needs, and preferred channels and style of communication - all this data is vital to be included in customer journey map for further management.
When we say detailed buyer personas, we recommend not stopping at just age, job, and sex. Try to find out where your ideal customer lives, what hobbies they have, what are their life goals and what are their dreams. Predicting where these customers will be in a year is also vital, as you can foresee their needs in the future and exceed customer expectations - it is another one of the benefits of the customer journey.
Determine why customers get in touch with you
When you use a customer journey map to get to know who your customers are, find out why they came to you. What are the most successful and popular products, what are the most relevant support queries, and what are the complaints you face the most often?
When you know why people call you or start a live chat, you can provide them with the answers they need even before they ask a question - via chatbots or proactive service tools. That’s how ideal self-service options have to work. Regular monitoring of customers' most popular queries is vital for reducing their wait times and making the service faster and more efficient. Customer journey map helps to understand where customer pain occurs, why they happen, how clients react to them, and what they want you to do - so customer journey map is a strategic tool to avoid negative situations, or at least predict them.
Find out preferred social channels
You definitely have clients from various ages, cultures, and social groups, and all of them have their own communication habits - and this is where you have to design different customer journey maps. Younger people love messengers and social media, and older people prefer live meetings or phone calls - this is open data from studies, but your customer journey map may show you more. The idea is to be available on every channel that is interesting for any people of your target audience. Here an omnichannel contact center becomes your best friend as it can cover all possible contact channels.
But what is the role of a customer journey map in this case? First of all, a customer journey map allows you to create customer segments, in other words, segment buyers into groups and prepare your staff with guidance on how to serve each customer. Secondly, customer journey map allows you to understand where your customers may need assistance and what channels they will use, so it is vital for workforce planning and operational costs optimization. Customer journey map, finally, lets you see sales opportunities at each stage of customer journey, even during the service stage of the customer journey too.
Gather the data in one place
You have to store customer data compactly to have unlimited and fast access whenever you need it - and provide the staff with it too. Use the vital metrics to measure how effective are your team members at each stage of the customer service journey and where are the improvement areas or mistakes. Also, this data will help you to design customer journey maps.
Such call center KPIs as First Call Resolution rate, Average Handle Time, CSAT, CX, Average Time in a Queue, and Customer Effort Score are irreplaceable to understanding the effectiveness of your organization and collecting customer data on each stage of customer journey.
Organize customer surveys to get real and constructive feedback from customers and notice their direct recommendations and wishes that can become the fundament for your further improvements, including the improvement of customer journey.
Map the journey
Start the visualization process itself to create an easy-in-use and informative customer journey map that will help your agents and managers understand how your customers behave during each interaction with the company. Include every available contact channel to see how the customer journey differs if it goes through distinct communication lines.
Predict potential factors that can cause customer’s fall out of the customer journey, like missed clicks or connection breakdowns, or even abandoned calls. You have to offer another touchpoint, initiated by you, to reach the customer who hasn’t ended his customer journey because of a mistake or emergency. This will also allow you to improve overall customer journey for other consumers and increase the effectiveness of customer journey management.
Customer journey improvement tips
Each call center has its own call peak hours and call downtimes when there is almost no one who would place a support request. If you are on this team, then you have enough time to provide your customers with callbacks.
Even though the fact that you offer the callback function is already a great step toward success, it can work against you in some cases. One of the most obvious is offering a callback without an option to choose a callback time. Imagine, how would the customer feel if he asked for a callback and got it the next day or after five or six hours. It is the highest level of frustration.
Why is this important? First of all, you can lose customers on the servicing stage of the customer journey because of their inability to reach out to you to get service. This harms customer retention, but the great news is that you can see this issue if your customer journey map is designed in the right way.
Set up call priorities
Do you remember that we said to notice why people are calling you? The next vital part of customer journey improvement is to know who’s calling. You have some information in your CRM, so you can prioritize calls in accordance with their topic, caller’s persona, and so on.
As your IVR is already set up to recognize the nature of customer requests, it is not that difficult to set up priority-based call routing to let agents handle more important calls first and provide really needed assistance to those clients who need it. No matter if they are VIP calls or calls in case of your product’s crash, priorities always help to focus on really vital things and improve customer experience on any stage of customer journey.
Eliminate customer repeats
No one has to repeat the request, especially if you want to provide excellent customer service and customer journey mapping process. The worst thing you can do is to make the customer repeat the same things every time he is transferred to another specialist - customer journey mapping exists for eliminating such issues, and that’s where you need to use it.
Additionally, you may go even further and use a multichannel call center to let customers switch between different digital channels without losing the conversation’s progress. If you use a single-channel contact center, the progress would be lost, and this is also another thing you have to keep in mind when managing customer journey mapping.
Implement all possible self-service options
FAQ, IVR system, chatbots, knowledge base, and so on - all possible self-service channels ought to be implemented in your contact center as people now prefer to try to solve issues on their own, without involving human agents.
Nonetheless, it is not enough to just implement them and forget about such words as “monitoring” and “upgrading” - if you do so, you will get nothing but annoyed and dissatisfied customers. For instance, poorly designed IVR will only make clients hate it and destroy customer satisfaction, as chatbots have to include only relevant answers that ask customer queries on the service stage of a customer journey. Self-service is great, but it doesn’t exist to save you money only - it exists to delight customers first and show customer care.
Let customers be transferred to more relevant specialists
Divide your contact center agents into groups by their skills - customers have to get access to specialized specialists to get really qualified assistance, not just a couple of common phrases.
If the customer faces an IT problem, link him to the IT department. If the customer needs an additional purchase, route him to the sales unit. If the customer needs a refund, let him talk to financial managers. Customer journey has to be easy, not effortful - that’s what customers love the most.
Listen to the customers
You collect customer information and customer feedback not to store it somewhere and do nothing with it. This data is the already constructed and described guide to what you should implement to improve customer journey, what you should improve in customer journey management, and what you should remove to ease the customer journey.
Customers are your highest value, so when they say that something is annoying them, take it away and make sure that it will never face them during the whole customer journey. Customer surveys exist to give you clear answers, not to make customers believe in your goodwill to hear their wishes - you have to listen to them anyway, as one wise said: “Vox populi - Vox Dei” (The voice of people is the voice of God).
Offer emphatic service
Customers aren’t soulless creatures, they are living individuals with emotions, dreams, and specific feelings. Their main expectation is that you will take care of them throughout their customer journey and respect their thoughts and needs instead of just draining their money - some still do this in such a way.
When people get a really special service that makes them feel positive and puts a smile on their face, they will come back just to feel it again. Empathy on any stage of customer journey is what people really expect in this nervous world - so try to provide them with it.
Let people evaluate your service somewhere despite your internal surveys that no one can see and check. Such websites as Capterra and Gartner are generally appreciated and trusted resources which can increase your image and customer’s trust in you - and help them see that if others felt great during their customer journey with your brand, the customer journey for new clients will also be pleasant.
On the other hand, your entrance to third-party resources where everyone can evaluate you on merit shows your confidence and readiness to move further and prove your high service quality - and that the customer journey you provide is truly great.
Customer journey management software
What should you get to manage the customer journey? First of all, you have to get access to measuring important customer experience data, such as valuable insights and vital rates like First Contact Resolution, Customer Satisfaction, and so on. Secondly, you have to get a tool with capabilities to control your staff in real time mode, including contact center agents. Finally, you have to get a tool that will make your customer service faster, and more efficient, and eliminate mistakes. Is there such a tool to manage the entire customer journey? Spoiler: