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Connected CX journeys

The value of a value-based approach

Mike Wells

Group Senior Director: CX Consulting — Dimension Data

Mike has over 30 years of experience in CX. Having joined Dimension Data in 2007, he’s the chief designer and architect of Dimension Data’s portfolio of CX advisory services and works with organisations globally to create and deliver valuable customer and employee experiences.

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Drive value through designed engagement

Omnichannel is not a uniform reality. Rather, it’s a virtual concept with many dimensions and degrees of complexity. Organisations need to create their own omnichannel reality to succeed.

The connected customer journey is often diminished rather than improved when organisations try to force channel connectivity, invariably trying to do everything at once. Increasingly, organisations that are getting this right are the ones prioritising and connecting fewer channels more effectively.

Now’s the time to create your own version of the omnichannel truth, using business insight and innovative thinking to understand the true value of a particular channel to your customers, employees, and the core goals of your organisation.

It’s critical to balance the costs and savings of a new channel activation or channel integration with business and customer effort … but can you also identify the ultimate value of improved customer loyalty, advocacy, and spend?

A value-based approach will take you from the hype of omnichannel to the reality of delivering connected customer journeys that work. Draining resources or delivering value?

The whole point of omnichannel is to reduce effort for customers, employees, and the organisation … but so far, what’s being implemented isn’t adding up to this mutual value proposition.

Over half the organisations surveyed this year are saying ‘yes’ to omnichannel in the next two years. But the desire to create these joined-up customer journeys isn’t being matched with the capability to do so. Many organisations have tried to forge ahead rather than get left behind, only to find themselves stuck at implementation. Having spent significant time and money trying to deploy and join up channels, what they have is, at best, a fairly bland CX. At worst, their efforts have actually degraded CX delivery and negatively affected customer efforts, and they’re finding it difficult to move forward.

Great in principle, difficult in reality

The concept of creating fully connected customer journeys that cover different interactions, channels, and customer needs across the organisation makes perfect sense. The theory behind omnichannel is sound: maximise technology to integrate and streamline your CX operations to reduce costs, retain customers, and grow the organisation.

In reality, though, very few have a clear idea of how to make this happen, especially against the background of a constantly changing landscape of emerging technologies, and shifting customer demands and behaviours. What many organisations have now is a collection of semi-connected customer journeys. Omnichannel remains elusive.

Connected CX quote

Omnichannel is the enabler, not the remedy

The CX journey should drive operational processes, not the other way around. Being first with a certain channel is all well and good but there’s no point introducing something that will only create new problems for your customers and employees. Differentiation is about service delivery – doing things better, not just differently.

Mature organisations are now consciously pausing to look at their strategies through the right lens before taking the next step. They’re recognising that omnichannel is an accelerator to organisational outcomes, not an antidote to organisational challenges. It’s more important to connect the correct journeys well than simply have many channels.

With new technologies constantly emerging and customer demands rapidly evolving, now is a good time to stand back and make sure you have a solid foundation for what you want to achieve with your channel strategy. How can you use automation to streamline customer journeys? When is it more effective to redirect the journey to human agents?

If you understand what it is that customers want, you can build a connected environment that delivers value for your customers, employees, and organisation at every touchpoint.

Build a channel strategy that’s based on value

Moving between self-service and assisted-service channels is a moment of truth for customers. There must be minimal effort involved and high return. The transition should be appropriate to the context of the interaction … and that context must follow them throughout and direct the journey. Don’t make them repeat the story!

Omnichannel is complex, which is why value-based strategies and execution are so important. Tweet this

You need to understand just what the customer wants to use the channel for, what your reasons are for wanting to deploy the channel, and whether it should be joined up or not.

Approach design from all angles

Forget the one-size-fits-all approach and don’t equate ‘omni’ with ‘many’: instead, find your own version of the truth. Then, design your channel strategy from the inside out as well as the outside in.

Look at all the internal elements that are critical to customer engagement: organisational culture, operating model, services, and value propositions. See how you can harmonise automation, digitalisation, and the customer journey to create a consistent experience.

Be aware of what’s happening in your industry. Is there a standard you should be meeting? If no one else is offering the channels you’re considering, is there an opportunity to differentiate? Should you take the leap at all?

Also bear in mind that your customers are interacting with and comparing their experiences with organisations across verticals. Are there practices in other industries you should consider using or adapting?

Exploring these questions will help you identify and prioritise areas where you can release more value by creating enhanced experiences, whether it’s on your existing channels or new ones – and don’t forget face-to-face interactions.

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Establish an operating model that supports strategic intent

Having considered the options, it’s vital to understand your organisation’s capacity to deploy and join up channels. Whether you have two channels or twelve, customer and employee adoption are critical. Do you have what’s required to operationalise and support the desired strategy?

Micro-personalisation is a key component of the new customer service ethos. People want to be treated as individuals and will come to expect customised offers, fast resolution of issues, and excellent value as the norm. The problem is that traditional, siloed operating models aren’t designed to deal with customers this way. Moving towards a more lateral organisational structure will help you better deliver, analyse, and improve the customer journey.

Micro-personalisation is a key component of the new customer service ethos. Tweet this

Consider designating a single point of accountability for CX and channel strategy. This is more effective than having a department that looks at omnichannel across the organisation. It’s vital that KPIs and employee communication strategies are also adapted to encourage the adoption and use of new channels to support your organisation’s CX strategy.

Take an omni-organisation approach

Successful omnichannel execution requires an ‘omni-organisation’ approach that supports connected customer journeys in the back end as well as the front end.

Collaboration across the organisation will be crucial to design, deployment, and delivery. Look at how you can use universal data and analytics to generate useful customer insights and share these across the organisation. Can you calculate the value of servicing customers through this channel? Is there value in offering it? If not … why are you doing it?

Analyse and adapt to realise value

CX is an ongoing, constantly changing entity. What your customers want from a channel today may be quite different in a few months, and your technology and processes must be highly adaptive to accommodate this.

Continually testing your channel strategy against the value it’s delivering to customers and the organisation will help you create sustainable, not just immediate, value.

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