​Paul Jarman is the CEO of NICE CXone.

Copyright by Tom Werner

By definition, a transformation is a process that takes place slowly, in most cases an extended period. For some time, companies had been methodically investing in digital transformations of varying types — a shift to a cloud-based service or adoption of AI technologies, for example.

But the pandemic forced companies to accelerate their strategy and turn transformation plans into adoption almost overnight. A McKinsey study estimates that during the first eight weeks of the pandemic, digital channel adoption fast-forwarded seven years. 

The shift allowed businesses to adapt quickly and enable digital and virtual experiences in order to minimize the impact of pandemic-related disruptions for customers. In fact, nearly 70% of companies in the McKinsey study who reported effective responses to the pandemic said they invested more than industry peers in digital-related capital expenditures.

This transition also reset expectations for customers, who have come to embrace — and now expect — digital interactions that go beyond voice, email or chat across many different touchpoints, including apps that are optimized across a variety of devices. Whether it’s resolving a problem, checking a balance, making an appointment or any other need, customers expect instant gratification — speed, efficiency and an agent they can relate to in every engagement on any channel, all while expending minimal effort. 

To offer the type of digital-first experiences with instant results customers demand, it’s critical to understand the customer journey — the different paths a consumer can follow while doing business with a company — and optimize those experiences by identifying and eliminating pain points at various stages and on various platforms.

The Benefits Of Journey Optimization

Consider the benefits of taking the time to fully evaluate the customer journey. You can often find problems and gaps in the ecosystem — with customer service, websites, communications among employees or some other breakdown.

When you understand and enhance your customer’s journey, chances are greater that they will make a purchase, be repeat customers and share those experiences with their friends and family. Once you learn more about your customers and how to market to them, upsell and cross-sell opportunities become more probable. In fact, according to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing, satisfied customer is 60%-70%, while the probability of converting a new customer is 5%-20%.

Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

Most of the time, there will be three main stages in the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration and decision.

At the awareness stage, a customer knows they want (or need) to make a purchase for one reason or another. The consideration stage is when the customer is trying to determine exactly what they need and how it will help them. The decision stage is when the customer knows what they need and is searching for the best solution or product to meet their needs.

It’s critical to have an idea of what the buyer is thinking at all these stages. Think about what it is that will make or break the customer’s satisfaction level. When you know what they are thinking, it becomes easier to find areas where your company can meet those needs or answer those questions as early as possible.

Keep Customers Happy

For generations, companies have had to adapt to new ways of reaching and keeping customers, as well as the ways they operate internally. The arrival of digital technologies accelerated the transformations for many companies, and the pandemic pushed those efforts into high gear. Digitization has forever changed the way consumers engage with brands and driven a wave of consumer expectations for instant gratification.

The digital world now offers multiple channels and opportunities for both self-service and agent-assisted touchpoints that can strengthen relationships with customers. Our research shows that consumers expect an omnichannel service offering in which they can move seamlessly across the different options. This model allows a consumer to initiate their interaction in a chat session, switch to phone support and have the information from the chat session appear to the phone agent. Businesses that can deliver these frictionless interactions are well-positioned to thrive in the experience economy.

Tuning into your customers’ wants will help you identify their goals and pain points. Remember to view their experiences from their perspective. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of customer experiences at specific touchpoints and develop an action plan for improvements and ongoing enhancements to them.

If you make the experience a pleasant one for your customers, you’re likely to do more than make a sale. You’re likely to have found yourself a loyal customer.

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