The Customer Experience: It’s the Journey, Not the Touch Points

April 29, 2017
The Customer Experience: It’s the Journey, Not the Touch Points

There’s no question that customer touch points are critical to any business.

Ecommerce browsing and checkout need to work smoothly. Billing has to straightforward and hassle-free. Inquiries to customer support need be addressed promptly. A customer’s visit to a physical retail store, an interaction online with a bank branch, or a conversation on the phone with the cable company should be a pleasant experience.

Companies in virtually every industry have invested heavily in improving how they interact with customers. A recent McKinsey Quarterly article points out that many businesses are missing the boat.

“Too many companies focus on individual interaction touch points devoted to billing, onboarding, service calls and the like,” McKinsey says. “In contrast, a customer journey spans a progression of touch points… To improve the customer experience, move from touch points to journeys.”

McKinsey research backs up this assertion. For instance, the consultancy found that consumer satisfaction with health insurance is 73 percent more likely when entire journeys work well, compared to when only certain touch points are effective. Similarly, customers of hotels that “get the journey right” may be 61 percent more likely to recommend a hotel, McKinsey found.

Integration Unifies the Customer Journey

What does it take to move from touch points to journeys? Data and application integration is a foundational component.

As it is, customer touch points at many B2C and B2B merchants are only loosely connected, if at all. Consider an example.

A consumer shops for a new high-end camera. After researching product specs and reviews, she finds a DSLR at an electronics retailer she’s bought from before. As in the past, she enjoys a high-caliber website and checkout experience. The camera is shipped promptly and she’s delighted. Then the camera fails.

To try to quickly resolve the problem, the customer decides to drive 30 miles to one of the retailer’s physical stores. She speaks with a service rep eager to help, but he doesn’t have access to her order details. Even though she’s bought from the company before, the rep doesn’t have her name, email address, or purchase history.

To capture that information and assist the customer, the rep makes a 10-minute phone call to his company’s ecommerce team to verify the order. It’s a customer journey gone bad because of lack of integration across ecommerce, order management, and point-of-sale (POS) touch points.

A Challenge for Both B2C and B2B

Such challenges are not uncommon in retail, financial services, healthcare, consumer telco, and other industries. They’re also found in B2B markets such as manufacturing, distribution, high-tech, and others. Leaders are turning to native-cloud integration platform as a service (iPaaS) to connect touch points and streamline the customer journey.

The jeans and apparel retailer Lucky Brand is a great example. Based in Los Angeles, Lucky Brand has deployed the Dell Boomi integration platform to power interconnections between NetSuite financials / ERP and best-of-breed systems, including electronic data interchange (EDI), ecommerce, and POS systems in about 230 brick-and-mortar stores.

“Boomi is a foundational element of our omni-channel commerce strategy,” said Kyle Pretsch, Lucky Brand director of integrations and omni-channel. “Boomi’s flexibility and speed mean that we spend a lot less time building and managing integration and can focus our resources on customer-centric innovations.”

Connecting touch points to streamline the omni-channel customer journey is just one advantage of native-cloud integration. Merchants also gain the 360-degree customer view needed for personalized engagement through targeted marketing and customer service.

With unified data, marketers can apply analytics to segment customers by purchases, website activity, channel preference, and other dimensions. Master data management can play the vital role of consolidating, standardizing, and synchronizing customer information across multiple systems.

Ultimately, a flawless customer journey drives long-term loyalty. It also minimizes churn among demanding customers who expect an exceptional experience at every interaction.

“Customers accustomed to the personalization and ease of dealing with digital natives such as Google and Amazon now expect the same kind of service from established players,” McKinsey said. “Research shows that 25 percent of customers will defect after just one bad experience.”

To explore how Boomi can help your organization, please contact us to speak with our integration experts.

About the Author

Charles Waltner is the head of content marketing for Dell Boomi.