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Author: Scott Steinberg

As we increasingly move into a world of omnichannel solutions, it is understandable if organizations are thinking more about ways to provide a unified experience for customers regardless of the method of interaction. As clients increasingly expect to interact with brands at a growing range of physical and digital touchpoints, embracing a unified customer experience strategy could help to drive productivity, profit and process improvements at every turn.

What is a unified customer experience—and how does it work?

A unified customer experience strategy refers to an operating model under which your business delivers a client experience that consistently matches content, functionality, and brand personality to user expectations and context at every turn. In other words, adopting a unified customer experience (CX) means every time you interact with your end-users, you're delivering a uniform experience, no matter the medium—i.e., online, social media, call center, etc.

A unified customer experience solution will comprise several tools to help you make customers happier and agents more productive, so you can continue focusing on the bigger picture. A few examples include:

  • A secure cloud-based contact center platform, meaning agents can be located virtually anywhere
  • Contact center solutions that are integrated to your CRM solutions, allowing for context-based conversations and a more personalized service
  • Automatic call distribution to ensure customers are routed to the right agent with the right skills, providing faster call resolution
  • Workforce optimization tools providing your managers with the analytics, reports, dashboards and scheduling tools they need
  • Ensure that all digital channels are integrated so that customers can seamlessly interact with your brand via voice, email, chat, social and mobile

Why adopt a unified customer experience strategy?

There are several reasons that businesses should intentionally incorporate a unified customer experience strategy into their business operations plans.

Customer experience and consumer expectations

As global consulting firm PwC puts it, experience is everything. Ensure that customers have a great experience, and they won't just buy more of your products and services—they'll also be more loyal and likely to share their enthusiasm with friends.

The CMO Council found that while 71% of consumers want a blend of both physical and digital channels, 87% of consumers find it frustrating when having to repeat themselves in multiple channels. Almost three-quarters of those frustrated consumers questioned whether they should continue spending with the brand. Providing seamless transition between channels should therefore be a key component of a unified experience for your clients.

Research suggests that while 82% of businesses believe customer experience (CX) is a top priority, nearly nine in 10 don't feel like they have the tools or capabilities needed to deliver on its promise. That's a problem for modern organizations, with 63% of shoppers reporting that they would leave a brand because of poor customer experience.

This shows that offering a unified customer experience strategy can serve as a growing source of competitive advantage going forward, allowing you to boost both audience engagement and overall customer service capabilities.

Brand awareness

Organizations are often challenged with trying to create a recognizable and distinct business brand—and they will invest in it heavily. This is only made harder by having audiences' attention split across more mediums. These efforts can be easily undermined if not replicated across channels. For example, you can have a striking social media presence, but if the online store it links to doesn't have the same professional look, the brand will diminish.

A unified customer experience strategy means aligning messaging, value proposition, and hands-on experience across the entire spectrum of audience touchpoints—including your company's website, mobile apps, social accounts, email newsletters, customer service solutions, and advertisements. Creating parity here is becoming increasingly essential, as it allows prospects to enter their customer journey at any time from any port of call. Developing this strategy not only allows you to more seamlessly connect strategic efforts, create continual market feedback loops, and routinely collect invaluable data on customers' preferences and habits; it also allows you to heighten customer loyalty, contextualize offers, and deliver a more personalized service.

Enhancing the agent experience

It is not just your clients that can benefit from a unified customer experience strategy—agents also have much to gain.

  • Happy customers mean happy agents. No one likes being yelled at or dealing with frustrated clients. The agent experience, and retention rates, will be improved as the customer experience improves.
  • The agent's job is made easier when they have all the information they need right at their fingertips. A well-designed unified customer experience will provide agents with all the context they need to resolve your clients’ issues. Without needing to re-ask numerous questions, agents can get to the bottom of an issue quicker and resolve it faster.
  • Automatic call distribution technology helps to route clients to the right agent, meaning the new hire isn't tasked with resolving the most difficult customer on day one. Further, unified CX solutions can make it easier to monitor, coach and improve agent interactions.

Improving operations

There are several operational benefits to adopting a unified customer experience approach:

  • Flexibility and scalability: As with other cloud-based solutions, Unified CX solutions can adapt to the current realities of your business while allowing for easy deployment of new features and disaster recovery capabilities.
  • Monitoring: Managers can easily monitor performance across multiple locations from a centralized portal.
  • No more blame game: Unifying all your customer experience services with the same provider gives you a single point of contact and a single point of accountability.

Making the switch to unified customer experience solutions

The best unified customer experience solutions don't just allow for a more coherent brand identity across every channel, they also minimize friction for customers, enable access to additional shopper data and provide greater context for customer service and contact center agents. Moreover, they also make it far easier for teams to coordinate and steer efforts toward common goals by building unified customer profiles that provide context as audiences travel throughout the customer journey.

When building your unified customer experience strategy, you may benefit from expert guidance on how to create better experiences, drive measurable results, and mitigate security risks for your business. In addition, make sure you're turning to an experienced provider that knows how to manage growing audience demands and omnichannel network complexity.

From cloud and online apps to live chats and call center dial-ins, every audience interaction now has the potential to be a source of learning and insight, and it presents a chance to heighten customer enthusiasm, loyalty, and engagement. But again: It's vital to work to maximize consistency and minimize confusion as your brand, message and customers travel across a growing range of technologies and touchpoints. By putting your audience first and consistently striving to make shoppers feel individually valued, you can turn your CX platform into a well-oiled engine for business growth.

Discover how Verizon can improve your ability to give customers what they need.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.