Where do phone calls fit in the customer journey?

Many businesses do not possess a comprehensive customer journey map. Throw into the mix an increasing number of communication channels for customers in 2016, and it is fair to question where phone calls fit in the best. Here we take a look.

where do phone calls fit in the customer journey

There are two important factors to mull over, when thinking about where do phone calls fit in the customer journey in this new omni-channel world. First, we need to consider the customer journey itself, in detail. And next, the growing number of communication channels that are biting at the heels of the traditional customer call.

Starting the journey

Knowing who your customers are is important, but understanding the current customer journey is what will help your business to provide exceptional customer service. If you haven’t got the full picture you could be missing a trick. From the moment that consumers discover your business, right through to them, hopefully, becoming an advocate for your company, there are increasingly new interaction points dotted along the way.

Chances are you have a lot of the information already. For example, the marketing team may have insights into how customers choose your products. But what many businesses are missing is a consolidated take on the complete 2016 customer journey.

Taking an up-to-the-minute look at the buyer journey will help your business to identify the latest key interactions that customers have with your business. It gives call teams a useful insight into the customer’s feelings, motivations and expectations at each of these moments, and better able to anticipate the tone or mode needed to conduct the conversation if phone is the chosen option at that point.

Drawing the customer roadmap

There are tools to help you produce a customer journey map which will teach your business more about its buyers. Smaply enables you to create customer personas, and then make a map detailing each experience with your business. A visual display of each moment sits alongside the emotions that the different customer types might experience at each stage. Ultimately this can help businesses anticipate customers’ reactions.

where do phone calls fit in the customer journey

Channel of choice

Your customer journey map will be populated with regularly changing touchpoints. Having gained a deeper understanding of the customer psyche at each of these moments in early 2016, this can inform which channels of communication are provided to customers at each step. For example, at stages in the journey where the map suggests that a customer might be confused or angry, it would be wise to make phone calls available.

The number one requirement for customers, when contacting call centres, is for their problem to be resolved quickly. A two-way conversation will make it possible for a customer service rep to probe and ask follow-up questions and a disgruntled customer can be placated. The latter may be particularly preferable over a public exchange on social media.

Conversely, also consider where phone calls could now be replaced by other channels. Digital touchpoints could be utilised for straightforward customer service, such as dealing with general queries about products and services. This would free-up the call centre team to focus their energies on complaints and upselling.

Research shows that there is high demand for customer service on social channels – in the space of two years, businesses on Twitter saw an increase of 2.5x more tweets from consumers – so it needs to feature at the right moments in the customer survey journey.

Customer management

Though a customer may initially contact you on one channel, they may follow up with another. A customer database – such as Zendesk, or Freshdesk – is essential for ensuring that customer interactions are integrated and managed in one central hub. This will help customer service teams to provide the optimum support.

It can equip customer call teams, in particular, with background information to help them upsell and get the customer back into the sales funnel.

The key is to provide choice, allowing the customer to contact your business in whatever way they desire is a step towards providing a satisfying customer experience. Are all those possible channels as optimised as they can be at the moment?

Single customer view

It’s very hard, even today, for businesses to know when a customer calls exactly where they are in the cycle, or what their blocker is likely to be. There’s always a slight risk that if there is a fantastic single customer view in place, the customer can actually be a bit freaked out at the detail you know about them and their activity in engaging with your brand.

On balance, however, most people tend to want their query dealt with as quickly, seamlessly and politely as possible so they can get on with their day. So would welcome you having data on what their question is going to be, and having solutions close to hand.

For instance, following mergers, acquisitions and other challenges, Prudential UK found its customer data to be fragmented, leading to issues in serving their customers effectively. The financial services company used Trillium Software to integrate their data and create a single customer view, resulting in a consistent and more effective approach to customer service.

What can you test around phone calls within the customer journey?

After creating a customer service map and rethinking communication channels, compare customer retention and satisfaction, as key metrics, over a period of a month.

This can be measured via your customer database, to see if there has been an improvement. Hone in on call metrics, but also compare measurements across all customer service touchpoints to gain an overall picture.

Thomas Quillfeldt

Thomas Quillfeldt

Editor, Callcentre.co.uk

Thomas Quillfeldt is a writer for UBM covering customer technology across Technology for Marketing, eCommerce Insights and Callcentre.co.uk. In another universe, he enthuses about music and video games. Oh, and it's "Tom".

February 25, 2016

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