By Ryan Hollenbeck, VP at Verint
10 years ago the customer journey for buying products and services was fairly short and simple. Most went in-store, some ordered through catalogues and the more digitally savvy would buy online. Since then, the ways in which customers can purchase things have multiplied at a phenomenal rate particularly in the digital space. As a result, customer engagement with brands has also changed. Now, they often want to know more about the product, whether they are getting the best value and even crowdsourcing opinions before they part with their cash. Gone are the days when customers could just be sold to there and then; they are more proactive and demanding of brands and this presents new challenges for today’s marketers.
For example, if you’re a retailer and a customer goes onto your website to look at your latest deals and sees something they like, the journey might not end there and then. Before they purchase, they may look at alternative sites for price comparisons, check online reviews to see what other people think of the product, watch demos on YouTube and even tweet some friends to see what they think about it. Once a decision has been made, the customer might even buy it via an alternative channel such as in-store or through a mobile application rather than the original site. Needless to say, the customer journey has got much longer and more complicated for marketers to monitor.
This shift in customer browsing and purchasing behaviour requires marketing to be more targeted and clever than ever before in order to convert the highest volume into sales. This requires information and insights. Marketers must not only understand the different ways in which a customer can interact with the business directly or indirectly, they must regularly monitor them to get to know their preferences and trends – what we call Voice of the Customer analytics. Only by getting under the skin of exactly what your customers think and do will you be able to make improvements to the customer journey and boost customer satisfaction, sales and loyalty.
But how do you go about doing this? In the past, capturing insight from customer interactions has been confined to responding to complaints, looking at feedback surveys, mystery shoppers and running focus groups. However, it is now possible to capture almost all data that the customer provides through the different journeys that they take. This can include the call recordings in contact centres, customer emails or text (SMS) interactions, survey responses – even social media exchanges, online chat conversations and YouTube videos watched. Combined with transactional data and web visit statistics, this can provide a 360 degree view of customer sentiment.
There is a reason why this is referred to as ‘Big Data’ – the vast amount of information now available for marketers can seem overwhelming to say the least, particularly in such an unstructured format. However, with the right tools that can analyse all of the information from each part of the customer journey, or touchpoint, it is possible to get a clear picture of the Voice of the Customer. The data can be collected and displayed in quick, easy-to-use and personalised dashboards, which will give the marketing department and key decision makers within the business a good overview and valuable insights that can be acted upon quickly. So, if you see that people are abandoning online purchases, you can analyse customer interactions within and about your business by using relevant search terms such as ‘online payment’, ‘website order’ and ‘shopping cart’ to determine a reason for this behaviour. It might reveal that the purchasing process is too complicated, so the best response would be to look at the back-end system and adjust it to become more user friendly.
It’s an added bonus if the platform also integrates with your workforce management systems, as it means that insights can be turned into action without time-consuming and costly technical integrations. For example, if you find that customers have been complaining about long wait times responding to social media inquiries (or even phone and e-mail), you should provide more staff to cope with busy periods and make sure they are adequately trained to quickly solve any customer problems that arise.
Getting ahead on the big data highway will put marketers in a strong position, not only now but in the future. So, no matter how much the customer journey changes, the business will be able to steer their customers in the right direction to drive sales and eliminate any bumps in the road.
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