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PHOTO: Hari Panicker

Companies are still approaching customer experience with siloed, channel-based strategies. While that may make it easier on the back end, it results in disjointed awkward interactions from the customer's point of view. The businesses that are seeing the greatest success with their CX efforts focus on building holistic customer experiences.

Below are what some experts see as the best ways to do so.

Dismantle Silos: Restructure to Support the Entire Customer Journey 

“Once you begin to think about your customer journey holistically, you need to structure your organization to support this strategy,” said Sara Mehldau, senior user experience architect, digital customer experience at Capgemini. Organizations that continue to approach customer journeys through the  lens of individual channel goals and strategies create disjointed experiences as a result. "By integrating data and analytics, strategy and marketing systems across departments, you can build a foundation that supports the customer regardless of how they engage. No matter where the customer starts, the CX story is woven throughout.”

Create a Personalization Strategy Roadmap

“Personalization means providing the customer with the right experience, via the right channel and at the right moment; this builds customer loyalty and drives conversion,” Mehldau said. “If the customer journey is the foundation of a holistic customer experience, personalization is its goal. However, many businesses continue to struggle with where to begin.

Personalization needs a crawl, walk, run strategy that builds in scale and complexity over time, Mehldau added. “It’s important to build a road map to ensure you are using your understanding of your customer journey and investing in internal processes that are future-facing and allow you to reach your holistic customer experience goal.”

Related Article: What a Holistic Approach to Customer Experience Looks Like

Aggregate Customer Data Sources

"No company can provide a holistic customer experience without getting to know its customers first," said Jacob Rosenberg, founder and CEO of Tajima Direct. "That’s why the most important best practice is to build a single customer profile that will aggregate all the information from multiple touchpoints and data sources and is accessible to all the teams."

Maciej Baranowski, customer engagement manager at Zety, agreed. Aggregating all data sources — including marketing campaigns engagement, customer service touchpoints, website behavior and offline activity — in one place is the foundation needed to design and implement new experiences for the user.

“For example, by granting customer service agents access to all information, they can easily recognize customer’s needs in seconds and provide a satisfactory solution within one interaction,” Baranowski explained. “Imagine a customer browsing a website for products and then starting a chat to ask for extra details on the product. By granting the consultant access to browsing history he can quickly understand the context and provide a personalized answer.”

While this seems rather easy, it is hard to execute, according to Baranowski. “It is very common for companies to build customer profiles within silos, for example, marketing would look at a different profile than sales. As neither of these profiles is complete, it is impossible for the teams to provide a great experience. The holistic approach must start with a company-wide approach.”

Related Article: Customer Data Platforms Shine Where CRMs Fail

Remove Any Points of Friction in the Customer Journey

To build a holistic CX, map out every touchpoint (or friction point) a customer can have with your brand, from live chats and phone calls to site navigation and checkouts, said Matt Erickson, marketing director for National Positions.

Every fork along this road is your opportunity to give them a reason to care about your brand,” Erickson said. “Your goal is not to ‘get the sale,’ your goal is to nurture a prospect so they become a lifetime customer."

A great customer experience comes down to reducing (or eliminating) any friction between the customer and the brand and the customer and the purchasing process, Erickson added. "For a customer to feel connected to a brand (and so that they are delivered a ‘above and beyond’ customer experience in today's world), speed and efficiency are paramount. If the only way for a customer to contact your company is by filling out a form or calling a phone tree, only to be directed to 'leave a message' because 'your call is very important to us' — is a fast way to ruin the customer experience before it begins.”

Related Article: Customer Service Friction: A Double-Edged Sword