The three pillars of a connected experience


Director, Strategy & Content | Podcast Host of Mobile Interactions Now

8min read
Three pillars of a connected experience

What is needed to guide and help your customers achieve what they want no matter where they start communicating with you? Enabling a connected experience is about giving them the right information at the right time, on any device, anywhere. And it’s about doing all this in a way that’s easy for your business to implement and maintain. 

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The three pillars to address when thinking of building a connected experience for your customers are connected data, connected processes, and connected communications. When these pillars work together, they support seamless processes and experiences for your customers—and ultimately raise the customer lifetime value.

Connected communications

How do you communicate with a friend? It depends. You text, call, sometimes even meet in person. And when you text a friend on the way home after meeting her over coffee, you’d expect her to remember what you just told her over coffee, wouldn’t you? The same expectations are spilling over to business communications.

The role of connected communications is to support your customers whenever and however they choose to engage. Whether they start communicating with you in a physical store, continue gathering information on your website, or finalize a purchase on a social platform, your challenge is to enable them to achieve their goal.

In this digital age, businesses no longer dictate how consumers are buying—it’s the other way around. Whether they prefer in-store interaction, social media, video calls, or even the good old phone call, your company’s role is to open those communication channels in an integrated manner so that the customer feels supported every step of the way. 

Here are three things to consider for enabling connected communications:

1. Let customers choose the channel
Being customer-centric goes behind shifting a mindset. You need to enable the tools your customers choose to use. Don’t expect them to download your app just to follow your process—they won’t (not for long anyway). Accessing any communication channels for business communications is far more accessible than ever before, with a wide range of out-of-box solutions and simple API integrations. Power up all channels your customers prefer—and learn from their use and tweak to achieve more significant business outcomes.

2. Make human assistance accessible during self-service
Like switching between channels, more customers expect to switch to human assistance when they get stuck in the self-service options. In this context, self-service can simply be considered one of the channels. By providing clear access to human assistance channels, companies can improve customer experience and gain actionable insights into reiterating the automated processes for a more intuitive and faster experience. It’s a continuous feedback loop that’s self-learning to build a better self-service.

3. Communicate with personalization and context
To drive business outcomes from connected experiences, companies need to trigger actions informed by the data they have about the customer and the contextual information surrounding the specific interaction. Suppose you have a customer who previously purchased theater tickets for two adults and two children and is now accessing the web app to get downloadable tickets. In this case, you can provide recommendations for restaurants that are child-friendly and located near the venue. As long as you’re helpful and efficient, many customers would welcome these recommendations

Connected processes

Delivering effective and efficient service through self-service and automation is fast becoming a brand differentiator for many industries.

Take, for example, a customer wanting to make a purchase in-store—they can check stock availability on your website (powered by an integration with your CRM and inventory system) and reserve the item for collection. Then, using their order number, they can check the collection status by sending a WhatsApp message that interrogates a fulfillment tool.

In this example, the retailer must thoroughly understand customers’ context and actions. Then, they need to simplify the customer’s input by deciding the minimum necessary information needed to guide them through the purchase process. Last but not least, aligning and automating frontend and backend processes to make the customer’s interaction with your company as seamless and efficient as possible is essential.

Here are three things to consider when enabling connected processes:

1. Start with the technology interface your customers would use
When making a technology choice for connected experiences, the choice should start with where your best users are and make it convenient for them to start using the service. Not all customers are the same, and geography matters too. For Starbucks, it was their app, and for San Cristobal Insurance, it was WhatsApp. By empowering them to connect with you on their preferred channel, you are facilitating an effortless exchange. 

2. Leverage the backend components to remove user barriers
Enabling users to provide enough input to complete a transaction/process requires a service design that’s simple and intuitive. Even more so, when the interaction occurs over a mobile device while the user is on the go, ask yourself what’s the minimum input from the user that you really need for the backend systems to complete the transaction. In the insurance claims case we discussed, the user needs to only present a picture of the policy as their phone number is identified by the fraud prevention component in the backend. The idea is to make it as effortless as possible for the user.

3. Build in human intervention where needed
Customers who start their journey with self-service but want to talk to a support service representative halfway through should be able to do so without having to repeat steps or information. This functionality requires that all system interfaces follow an identical structure and logic so that any member of the team can review all touchpoints and customer data with context.

Now that you have connected processes in place, consider automating your touchpoints. Automation can unlock surprising results, because no matter how well-thought-out and crafted your processes, you are likely to disappoint customers without data and process automation. 

A scalable and automated process is necessary—when there are lots of touchpoints, there is a higher risk of failure, as well as potential missed opportunities for both you and your customers.

Connected data

To power your connected processes, you need reliable data. Data is the bridge that connects different touchpoints. Data also is the food for machine learning that starts and feeds the interactions continuously. If you have no data, there is no personalization and no context for interactions. 

Here are three types of data your organization needs to collect intelligently:

1. Customer data
Knowing your customers has always been a critical success factor, even before digitalization. It’s even more critical now, as customers expect personalized buying and support experiences. Today’s consumers can discern the differences between information needed to help them get things done efficiently versus creepy gathering of unnecessary data. Knowing what and why you’re collecting certain data will help you get customers to opt-in and adhere to data protection and privacy regulations.

2. User context data
As customers start interacting with brands from various touchpoints, both on- and offline, understanding the user context at the moment of interaction is key to providing a more frictionless experience no matter where and when they start the interaction. An insurance policyholder calling in at night from a mobile phone might warrant an expedited handling process than submitting a claim via your website or an application. 

3. Data from customer interaction
Within your data, for every customer who contacts you, you want to find actionable insights. Did they get help within the time frame they were promised? Did they opt for a free trial before they engaged with you? How many minutes did they spend with customer support? All of this data is actionable for your business.

Building a connected experience inside out

Whether your organization is currently undergoing major digitalization initiatives or just getting started on mapping out your customer journey, those three pillars will help you build a stronger foundation for improving the customer lifetime value. 

Look out for our upcoming issues to get practical advice on forming a winning connected experience team to build on these pillars together.

This article is part of the Connections Now newsletter.
You can sign up here to receive it every month.


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