Today’s consumer expectations are at an all-time high, as more and more companies are mastering the art of providing exceptional CX. In fact, a 2018 Gartner report predicted that by 2020, 81% of CX marketers expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX. Creating a unified customer experience is critical for staying competitive and retaining and building a loyal customer base.
What is Unified Customer Experience?
Before diving into each point, we wanted to first outline the definition of a unified customer experience. As described in this report from Forrester, unified CX is “experiences that match content, functionality, and a coherent brand personality to user expectations, tasks, and context across touchpoints.”
In other words, customers should be able to recognize and interact with your brand in the same way wherever you can be found. Your website, social media profiles, customer service channels, email marketing, targeted ads, and any other touchpoints should all convey the same messaging and emotions. Unlike traditional marketing cycles, there isn’t one starting point, rather unified customer experience allows potential customers to be able to jump into the customer journey at any time. Doing these things will dramatically improve your company's customer lifetime value.
Unified CX opens up the opportunity for seamlessly spanning strategic and tactical initiatives because of the continuous feedback loop. It allows businesses to not just think about customers when a piece of research is commissioned and analysed but throughout the year.
Below we outline five key points to keep in mind when building a unified customer experience program for your business.
1. Ensure Brand Vision Across Platforms
Step one for creating a unified customer experience is to ensure that your brand vision is conveyed across all platforms. Although this definitely does include things like brand colors, fonts, logos, and tone of voice (all important for user recognition and confidence in a company), it also goes deeper than that.
Your brand’s mission statement and overall vision should also be embodied in every single touchpoint, take advice from the experts. Whether a potential customer contacts your company via an Instagram DM or a live chat feature, they should expect to receive the same level of customer service and attention. The same feelings should be evoked no matter the touchpoint by focusing on exuding a consistent brand vision. This also increases customer trust.
2. Unify Internal Teams
And how to make sure every touchpoint embodies your brand vision? The solution is frequent internal communication. By its very nature, CX teams should be collaborating frequently with all other teams that interact with customers, including social media managers, email marketers, PR teams, customer service representatives, and most likely several others depending on the size of your business.
These teams should be meeting at least monthly, if not bi-weekly, to discuss any recent findings in terms of employee engagement and communication. They should also be sharing dashboards and workflows that allow each team member to have access to customer response data. By working to unite these internal teams, you can continue to refine and unify your brand messaging.
3. Research, Research, Research
Another benefit of frequent cross-team collaboration is that you are able to identify and address customer issues found on one channel before they are brought up by customers on another. In order to build the best unified customer experience, you need to be constantly researching customer needs and working to proactively address problems before they become a wider issue, not just reacting to problems in the moment.
The key to this type of research is gathering open-ended, qualitative feedback via surveys and online reviews. This type of feedback allows you to get deeper insights about what your customers are feeling, and can then be analyzed and coded by sentiment for large-scale analysis. Having this data on-hand is essential for conducting accurate customer experience analysis to understand where your CX is excelling and where it needs improvement.
4. Invest in CX Technology
There’s no getting around it, coding and analyzing qualitative customer feedback at scale is a time and labor-intensive task. The good news is that there is a plethora of new CX technology that is aimed at reducing this workload so teams can focus on more meaningful work like implementing findings from the data to construct a unified customer experience.
Chattermill aids this process by using AI to automatically detect sentiments and topics within a piece of customer feedback. The information is sorted into categories and given a score based on the level of negative or positive sentiment, which allows data to be quickly processed to reveal trends and insights across platforms. Chattermill helps you discover the unknown unknowns that can’t be anticipated in a structured survey with a questionnaire where you are pre-empting the customer for specific answers.
By providing these insights within a unified view shared across teams, companies are able to free up valuable employee bandwidth.
5. Treat Each Customer as an Individual
Going back to the definition we outlined at the beginning, one of the key phrases to take note of is “user expectations, tasks, and context across touchpoints”. User context is one of the most important, and difficult, pieces of the unified customer experience puzzle. Customers want to feel that they are individually recognized and valued by the companies they interact with.
The way to ensure your team has the proper context and is able to close the customer feedback loop with individuals is to, again, maintain consistent and rigorous internal communication and records for customers. This, of course, becomes more difficult the larger your company grows, which is why having a unified CX platform to keep track of all this data is so essential.
For example, say customer X messages your company on social media about an item they had an issue with and would like to exchange. Your social media manager lets them know they should be able to do that free of charge, and to email your customer support team. Customer X sends an email, and the customer support team has no idea what they’re talking about and tells them they can’t do exchanges for free, and that they’ll need to call on the phone to resolve the issue.
Customer X calls, and once again the rep that answers doesn’t know the situation. After being placed on hold multiple times, customer X hangs up in frustration. They are then immediately emailed a feedback survey asking about their experience, although it was clearly negative.
The problem here is that the representatives responding to customer X had no context, no workflows set up that would smoothly resolve the issue. Customer X didn’t feel like the company valued them individually. With a unified customer experience, company reps across departments would be able to access customer data at the click of a button and work to resolve their issues much faster.
Putting a unified customer experience into practice boils down to rigorous internal communication, a dedication to data collection using the right tools, and taking action on your findings to anticipate customer needs, all of which results in empowering your customers. Learn more about how Chattermill can help your company unify customer data for better CX. Additionally, understand the key customer experience statistics to know in 2021 and how it can help shape your strategy.