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The best call centers put themselves into the minds of their customers. They take the time to learn who their audience is, what they want, how they prefer to communicate, and what prompts them to make a transaction.

These customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t focus on customers. And by gaining a deep understanding of the customer journey, call centers can learn what it takes to provide exceptional experiences.

Although today’s customers can be tricky to understand fully—especially when it comes to the many various steps they take—the customer journey is something you can effectively outline if you take the time to do it right.

What is the Call Center Customer Journey?

The call center customer journey starts when someone learns how to contact your company and ends when they achieve their goal. Every step, including research, outreach, and interaction with an agent, leads them toward this goal.

A customer's goal can be anything from purchasing a product to signing up for a free trial or finding an answer to a question. Whatever the case, each call center interaction is just one touchpoint along their entire journey with your brand. And every touchpoint matters.

5 Steps to Understand the Call Center Customer Journey

So, how do you map the call center customer journey?

The key is visualizing the entire process. Each point on the map is a key event, interaction, or area of friction that happens during the customer’s experience with your call center.

To begin mapping out the complete customer journey, you need a good grasp of audience demographics (who they are), psychographics (who they want to be), and what it takes to get customers from point A to point B. Here’s how to get started in five steps:

Step 1: Discover Who Your Customers Are

Get to know your customers—their demographics and expectations. You need to understand your customers personally. Put a face to your customer by creating a persona that your call center team can use to envision exactly who they’re interacting with. And the more detail, the better.

For example, don’t just say your primary customer is: male, 18-30 years old, and a manager. Instead, create a persona like this:

  • Kevin Smith, 28 years old.
  • Married and living in the suburbs.
  • Working to reach director at his company and is passionate about his job.
  • He spends his weekends playing local team sports.

Step 2: Determine Why Your Customers Contact You

Once you know who your customers are, you need to understand where they are coming from. Knowing why your customer contacts you will inform how you handle each interaction.

For example, if the customer is new to your brand, they need a relatively generic welcome greeting, then a few prompts to guide their next steps. Contrarily, a current customer wants to know that you know who they are and are ready to help.

You can use a CRM, text analytics, and call monitoring software to pinpoint why the customer is contacting you so you can respond appropriately. It's also valuable to monitor trends on why customers contact you to find ways to smooth out the process.

Step 3: Outline How Your Customers Contact You

People want to engage with you when, where, and how they prefer across the entire customer journey. This is why a branded omnichannel strategy is so essential for your contact center.

Start by listing every potential touchpoint with your contact center, from social channels to paid ads, phone calls, emails, third-party review sites, and live chat. This is an essential step to ensuring you have all the insight you need into how your customers interact with you.

Finalize your list of contact channels, then establish clear communication guidelines for each to ensure your call center agents meet customers where they are, literally. For example, emails should be answered within 24 hours, while live chat should be answered in just a few minutes.

Step 4: Figure Out What a Customer Interaction Looks like

Every customer interaction is a chance to prove your brand deserves loyalty. It’s an opportunity to differentiate your brand based on exceptional customer experiences. So figuring out what an exceptional interaction—one that results in a positive outcome—looks like is critical.

To do this:

  • List out all the actions your customers might perform during an interaction so you can respond appropriately.
  • Determine the emotional drive for your customers—their pain point or problem—so you can provide the right response at the right time.
  • Identify the obstacles and pain points blocking your customers so you can highlight how you’re working to mitigate those issues.
  • Use a call center script with best practices for how your agents can be most effective in their interactions.
  • Outline all the resources (contact center tools) your agents can leverage to manage every interaction successfully.

Step 5: Follow-Up to Ensure the Interaction Ended Positively

The final step of the customer journey is to establish how you’ll resolve every interaction while delighting the customer. To do this, you need to track and analyze the right metrics and data to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Measure everything from how well the agent recognized the customer’s mood to how well the agent met their need by the end.

And don’t be afraid to take the journey as the customer to see if there are any areas of the call center process that can improve. Test your mapping regularly to ensure that agent transfers are minimized, wait times are insignificant, authenticity is demonstrated throughout, and emotion is put into every interaction. You don’t want frustrating gaps or less-than-ideal experiences because something was missed.

Best Practices for Improving the Call Center Customer Journey

Now that you know how to map the call center customer journey, what can you do to ensure that every experience is as profitable as possible?

  • Develop emotional connections with your customers. The importance of an emotive customer experience cannot be overstated. The more storytelling and personalization your contact center uses to connect with customers, the more positive their experience and the more satisfied they’ll be on their journey.
  • Decrease customer effort along the journey. The easier it is for your customer to make a purchase, get fast service, find an answer to a question, and garner information, the better. Offer tools such as self-service knowledge bases or chatbots to help guide customers to the answers they seek.
  • Ask for customer feedback—and listen to it! Your customers are often more than happy to tell you how their journey went and what they liked and didn’t like about it. Use customer surveys, including CST and NPS, and self-scorecards to gain relevant feedback you can use to improve.
  • Train your agents in customer service. The best contact center agents communicate well, demonstrate emotional intelligence, are adaptable, take initiative, work well in teams, have integrity, and are great at solving problems.

By following these best practices and mapping the customer journey, this insight can highlight the most effective and efficient process for your customers to take from the first touchpoint to the last. And the better optimized this process becomes, the more likely you are to build loyal brand advocates.

With a clear understanding of your call center's customer journey, you can start developing a customer-centric experience at every touchpoint.

The eBook, Actionable Ways to Improve Call Center Customer Experience & Customer Service, outlines industry best practices to help you deliver a consistent, enjoyable experience at every step in your customer journey.

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Tags: Customer Experience & Service, Call Quality Monitoring