Avoiding customer journey traffic jams

Considering all the ways that enterprises and customers can engage—across many platforms and channels–interactions can often end up resembling a traffic jam.

There are multiple points of entry and multiple directions, and everyone is trying to get somewhere amidst the chaos.

The result? Inefficient contact center operations, unmet customer expectations and, as a byproduct, unintended consequences.


Unintended consequences? What are those?

Let’s consider an example of unintended consequences using the Voice (IVR) channel. For many in the IVR space, ‘containment’ is a critical metric used to measure success. While there’s nothing wrong with looking at containment as a great way to understand if the IVR is doing its job and providing customers with automated options, often times users from other channels such as the website, social or proactive engagement can impact the IVR’s ability to drive higher containment. This happens when the overall strategy for those channels is not aligned to that of the IVR. In turn, this can lead to creating a customer culture that views the IVR in a way that is counter to the goals of the business. For example, if the digital virtual assistant (VA) doesn’t know the answer to a question, the customer is directed to call the IVR and escalate, or if a proactive notification is sent to a customer, and it contains an IVR contact number, even if the notification itself doesn’t require an action from the recipient, it often compels them to call when they otherwise would not have. As a result, the enterprise is:

  • Forcing the customer outside of their engagement type of choice
  • Introducing friction
  • Limiting the possibility of first contact resolution
  • Adding volume and costs to their contact center operations
  • Clouding their ability to truly understand the performance of all of their channels and where they should improve

All of this stems from a lack of a holistic strategy across channels, which creates a gap in understanding the implications of actions within each channel and how they greatly impact the ability of others to serve the purposes of the organization, and its customers. These are the unintended consequences enterprises should seek to avoid at all costs.


Siloed teams create a traffic jam for customers

So, how does this happen, and how can it be avoided? Today, individual engagement types, such as automated or agent-assisted support, are often siloed within the enterprise and managed by different teams. Imagine that a live chat optimization team finds that the current deployment has a high percentage of missed opportunities. To address this, their recommendation may be to add additional agents. On the surface, this seems logical and a good recommendation, but there is a bigger picture that shouldn’t be ignored.

If the enterprise steps back to take a holistic view, they will see an opportunity to benefit from a VA program that exists in a different department. Instead of simply adding higher-cost agents, they can mine the chat data to evaluate opportunities for automation that the VA can support, providing self-service choices for customers and driving savings for the organization. This allows the enterprise to take advantage of the benefits of intelligent engagement while increasing operational efficiency.


Change the view of success

In order to improve the customer journey, remove the friction and make the experience seamless across all channels, the enterprise has to commit to some important enabling actions. The first of these is to expand its internal view from one that is myopic and siloed to one that considers the entire ecosystem of intelligent customer engagement opportunities. It should consider how to link channels and the experiences they provide in a way that creates omni-channel and operationally efficient interactions. As part of this, the enterprise has to shift and establish KPIs that reflect the complete customer journey. Once established, the new KPIs will align the organization and each channel to collectively support the overarching goals.

Next, the enterprise must create an organizational structure and governance that will provide the framework to align channels intelligently, allowing them to work together to support an executive strategy and drive initiatives that support the customer journey in a way that meets user expectations while maximizing benefit opportunities from one another. To empower an intelligent engagement program there are some definitive factors that enterprises should keep in mind:

  • Establish executive sponsorship in order to define goals, drive communication and provide accountability across all engagement types, lines of business, and functional departments
  • Develop partnerships and include all vendors that are part of the customer journey in order to take advantage of the entire system
  • Access data related to customer circumstances and previous channel interactions that will support the required tactics to achieve these goals

Going back to the traffic jam analogy, applying this foundational structure is much like building a roundabout. While there are still multiple points of entry, the roundabout offers the structure that allows all users to be more efficient. Everyone knows exactly how to get in and out of it, and it helps them get to where they want to go in a much more satisfying and efficient way.

At Nuance, when we engage with a client to optimize their intelligent engagement strategy, we mirror that governance. We establish a lead who institutes internal alignment, holistically evaluates client initiatives, and ensures the program is driving value and delivers impactful results across all engagement types.

The ideal goal is to create a focused and seamless customer engagement across all channels, resulting in improved operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction, as well as a more intelligent conversation with the enterprise’s customers by being proactive, personal and predictive.

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Shelbi Scott

About Shelbi Scott

Shelbi Scott is a Sr. Manager of Omni-Channel Optimization within the Nuance Enterprise Division, focusing on eliminating friction in the customer journey and delivering impactful results. She brings over sixteen years of customer lifecycle experience specializing in omni-channel solutions. Shelbi is recognized as a nurturer and community builder that is personally invested in the success of the individual, the client, the organization, and the world at large.