Call center customer journey: definition and characteristics
In general, the call center customer journey works the same as it is for other niches - it is the whole history of customer interactions from the first one until the last one. To may 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. The last interaction is the moment when clients get their main goal - purchase, assistance, answer, and so on.
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 a touchpoint in contact centers and is similarly significant as any other interaction.
The 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, and this is a generally accepted classification. Our goal is to understand how a call center can be involved in each stage to improve customer satisfaction and provide better service.
This is the first stage of the call center customer journey, but one of the most important. 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 are you 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.
That is the more close interaction with your brand. If you have passed the first stage of customer comparison and evaluation, then you would take part in the second phase of the race where the customer shortens his list of possible vendors. Now customers move to direct comparison between a few companies and make the final decision on which one they would like to purchase the product.
How is the contact center involved: Even though this stage has many similarities with the awareness stage, people can answer questions to your sales team via email or web chat.
Congratulations, you are a champion - at this stage, customers are ready to make a buy. You have already won the competition and there is a little left until the awaited purchase will happen.
How is the contact center involved: At this phase of the path customers can call agents to get details about the purchasing process, or with any other buying-related inquiries.
Service and Retention
The main part of the process is completely about your contact centers. This stage can take a long period of time as customers may need repetitive assistance and face numerous customer issues that have to be resolved by the customer service team. We can go even further and name this stage as a little call center customer journey inside the bigger one, as the entire history of customer interaction with the customer service team is completely another universe.
How is the contact center involved: At all processes at this phase contact center plays the main role. Special offerings, assistance, announcements, greetings, and complaints - all are sent and processed inside of the contact center.
Advocacy, or Loyalty
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 process. A customer service 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 in customer service.
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, and so on.
But to build the right customer journey map for customer service, you have to understand it and construct it in accordance with specific rules and requirements.
Determine the customer portrait
A customer service journey map starts from the customer persona, and the more details it would contain the better it is for you and your business. 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.
When we say detailed buyer personas, we recommend not stopping at just age, job, and 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.
Determine why customers get in touch with you
When you know who your customers are, find out why they come to you. What are the most successful and popular products, what are the most relevant support requests, 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. That’s how ideal IVR systems and chatbots 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.
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. Younger people love messengers and social media, and older people prefer live meetings or phone calls.
The idea is to be available on every channel that is interesting for any people of your target audience. Here omnichannel contact center becomes your best friend as it can cover all possible contact channels.
Gather the data in one place
You have to store customer data compactly to have unlimited and fast access to it whenever you need it. 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.
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.
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.
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 journey, like missed clicks or connection breakdowns. You have to offer another touchpoint, initiated by you, to reach the customer who hasn’t ended his path because of a mistake or emergency.
Tips to ease the customer journey
Each call center has its own call peaks and calls 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.
Set up call priorities
Do you remember that we said to notice why people are calling you? The next vital part 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 routing to let agents handle more important calls first. No matter would they be VIP calls or calls in case of your product’s crash, priorities always help to focus on really vital things.
Eliminate customer repeats
No one has to repeat the request, especially if you want to provide excellent customer service. The worst thing you can do is to make the customer repeat the same things every time he is transferred to another specialist.
Additionally, you may go even further and use an omnichannel call center to let customers switch between different digital channels without losing the conversation’s progress. If you use a multichannel contact center, the progress would be lost.
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.
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.
Let customers be transferred to more relevant specialists
Divide your contact center agents into groups by their skills - customer has 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.
Listen to the customers’
You collect customer information and 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, what you should improve, and what you should remove.
Customers are your highest value, so when they say that something is annoying them, take it away. Customer surveys exist to give you clear answers, not to make customers believe in your goodwill to hear their wishes - you have to hear them anyway.
Offer emphatic service
Customers aren’t soulless wallets, they are living individuals with emotions, dreams, and specific feelings. Their main expectation is that you will take care of them and respect their thoughts and needs instead of just draining their money.
When people get really special service that makes them feel positive and smiles, they will come back just to feel it again. The schema “Give me money and go out” isn’t working, and has never done so.
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.
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.