4 Steps for Creating a Seamless Customer Experience

Delivering a seamless customer journey is a top three priority for almost 60 percent of customer service and support leaders, according to Gartner's research. Furthermore, it was the top priority for 15 percent of those asked. Removing friction from customer journeys is vital for improving overall customer experience (CX).

Disconnected customer journeys are often defined by the customer's need to repeat information. In fact, a Gartner survey found that customers who switch service channels are twice as likely to repeat information. When customers need to repeat information, organizations see substantial (15 percent to 23 percent) declines in CX outcomes, depending on the channel.

A seamless customer journey is beneficial not only to the customer, but also to the employee experience and operational costs. Agents can spend less time gathering basic information and can deliver shorter assisted interactions.

There are four steps that leaders can take to reduce points of friction and transform their CX:

1. Fix the Process First.

Gartner research shows that service leaders believe the most important contributing factor in making the customer journey feel seamless is enabling the customer to avoid repeating steps or information. Forty-one percent of customer service and support leaders say that improving transitions between service channels is most likely to help create a seamless customer journey.

Many organizations will also need to make investments in technology to deliver better transitions across service channels. According to Gartner research, leaders report that many of the service program capabilities that support such a journey are not in place. The most prevalent program capability is ensuring uniform content across all channels through content management processes, although slightly less than a third (31 percent) report having this.

Many leaders (44 percent) report having none of these service program capabilities. Customer service leaders have identified a key problem but have so far underinvested in the capabilities needed to address it.

2. Use Consistent Troubleshooting Steps to Reduce Repetition and Incentivize More Self-Service Adoption.

One key type of self-service content to get right is troubleshooting steps. Inconsistent troubleshooting steps can cause customers to feel they are repeating information and even starting over. This is a common issue. Gartner research shows that across the primary service channels of chat, email and phone, around 60 percent of customers who switched channels repeated information.

Only 9 percent of leaders say that they currently have uniform troubleshooting steps so that a rep can pick up where the customer left off in self-service. Boosting self-service adoption has multiple benefits, including cost and efficiency savings: 82 percent of customer service and support leaders report they prioritize optimizing self-service capabilities as the best way to reduce assisted-service contact volume.

Standardizing troubleshooting steps across channels builds confidence in the steps already taken and enables customers to continue moving forward after transitioning between channels. The rep can start the conversation by continuing the journey at whatever step the customer last completed. This not only shortens the total time of the expensive live contact, but also teaches the customer that they can advance their issue in self-service without a rep.

3. Ensure That Knowledge Management (KM) Processes Produce Uniform Content Across Channels.

Less than a third (31 percent) of leaders say they currently have a content management process in place that ensures uniform content across all channels. Uniform content across channels facilitates a seamless customer journey by enabling customers to switch channels and pick up where they left off without repeating steps.

Uniform content also provides consistent guidance and information. Ensuring uniform and up-to-date content across channels should be a major priority and can occur through both technology and process. The technological solution is a centralized KM system that allows for changes made in one location to be disseminated across all channels.

However, absent this ability, CSS leaders can still make organizational progress such as instituting a single content development team that is responsible for the content that is published on all channels.

A single content development team fights against the natural siloing of teams, channel, and data that often occurs.

4. Use Self-Service to Make the Assisted Customer Experience Shorter and More Personalized.

Too often, self-service results in one of only two outcomes: Resolution or abandonment. Gartner research shows that containment rates are only around 20 percent. To avoid this, self-service should perform an intake and routing function in journeys that must use multiple channels. For example, the information that a customer provides in chat can give the rep the information needed to skip unnecessary intake steps and immediately begin resolving the customer issue.

While customers might need to transition from chat to voice, they can skip early steps and feel like they have engaged in a single, continuous interaction. In having more contextual information at the beginning of the interaction, the rep can provide a more personalized experience for the customer.

While technology investments are needed to deliver certain transition capabilities, customer service and support leaders can start by making process-related changes to begin delivering a seamless multichannel journey. By removing friction, particularly when customers move between channels, customer service and support leaders can vastly improve CX.

Andrew Schumacher is a senior principal, Advisory, in the Gartner Customer Service & Support Practice, focusing on digital, multi-, and omnichannel strategy and execution and customer service experience and voice of the customer strategy and execution.