5 steps to create a unified customer experience strategy

Khoros Staff

What is a unified customer experience strategy?

A unified customer experience strategy offers customers a fluid interaction with your brand across various platforms and channels, ensuring consistency in the brand's voice and messaging at every point of contact.

In today's rapidly evolving market, where consumer loyalty is fragile, businesses increasingly recognize the importance of a unified customer experience. According to recent research by PwC, one-third of customers will abandon a beloved brand after a single negative experience.

A unified customer experience strategy isn't merely advantageous; it's essential. It combines speed, adaptability, and a personalized approach, making customers feel recognized and appreciated. Moreover, it provides agents with a consolidated overview of each customer's history, facilitating a deeper understanding of their journey with your brand.

Embarking on the journey towards a unified customer experience framework hinges on embracing digital transformation. Though "digital transformation" might seem overwhelming or vague, a clear, actionable plan can significantly enhance customer service efficiency and overall customer satisfaction.

This blog will explore three common mistakes brands make while moving toward digital transformation. Following that, we outline five proven steps to help you achieve a unified customer experience framework.

3 common pitfalls when moving toward a unified customer experience strategy

Reflect for a moment on a poor customer service experience you've had. Perhaps you reached out to a brand on social media just to wait days to hear back or just to get an automated response with no path to resolution. These are not just personal annoyances but symptomatic of deeper issues in an organization's ability to implement digital-first solutions.

Digital transformation is essential to implementing a unified customer experience but should never sacrifice customer satisfaction. 

Vasu Srinivasan, a Senior Analyst at Forrester, points out three critical mistakes brands often make when working toward digital transformation:

Pitfall #1: Prioritizing engagement over resolution

When creating a digital channel strategy, the focus must shift from engagement to resolution. Therefore, more than just meeting customers on their channels of choice is required. Brands must ensure they have the capacity and processes to offer customers excellent service and experiences on those channels.

How should you evaluate your brand's capacity to take on a new channel?

When evaluating a new channel, it’s essential to understand the complexity of the customers' inquiries into that channel.

Think about factors like:

  • What’s the expected volume on that channel?

  • How much will be self-service via automation?

  • What percentage of inquiries will require agent assistance?

  • Will the channel be ‘always on’ or can you throttle it to match agent capacity?

Once brands understand the current situation, they should assess their ability to give customers a clear path to resolution on that channel.

Brands need to map out what a customer’s journey will look like to understand what will be self-service and what will require human assistance. Ensuring you have the means available to serve your customers according to their needs is vital.

Pitfall #2: Putting more focus on AI and automation than the customer experience

AI and automation are powerful tools for enhancing productivity and decision-making, yet their implementation requires careful attention to the inherent risks, meriting a balance of ambition and caution.

Here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  1. AI should reduce the customer’s effort, not the experience. Expose customers to automation where it helps benefit them.

  2. Automation should not eliminate agents entirely; it’s supposed to augment them. Containment within automation can certainly be a goal but it should never be a dead end with no route to an agent.

  3. Automation is not just for the customer; it should also help the agent with seamless workflows that enable them to serve the customer promptly and efficiently.

Pitfall #3: Implementing too many tools

Research indicates that agents can spend as much as 35% of their time seeking information and another 15% transferring data between applications.

This inefficiency is a significant challenge in digital transformation efforts, as brands are inclined to adopt various tools to serve specific functions. This often leads to a fragmented agent experience and, ultimately, poor customer experience.

Ensuring agents have a unified, streamlined interface is pivotal for delivering superior customer experiences.

Having highlighted the potential obstacles within digital transformation, we will explore how to master digital channel orchestrations and five strategic steps your brand can undertake to navigate this transformative journey effectively.

How to master digital channel orchestration

Unifying the customer experience through digital transformation takes time. Too many changes at once can negatively impact agents and create an overwhelming experience.

When choosing a solution to bring all your channels into one platform, it’s essential to understand what capabilities are needed. 

The best unified digital customer experience strategy should entail:

  • Deflecting calls across different digital touchpoints

  • Containing or triaging inquiries for seamless handoffs to agents

  • Serving smart workflows for managing multi-channel conversations in real-time or anytime

  • Optimizing with bots, agent tools, and operational performance management

Learn more about effective customer journey management in digital service here.

Entry point

Your digital service solution should be able to:

1. Identify and enrich:

  • Ingest conversations from various channels — web chat, social, messaging, and everything in between

  • Tag, classify, and prioritize each interaction

  • Balance synchronous (real-time) or asynchronous (anytime) conversations

  • Classify each conversation by intent, topic, sentiment, and language

  • Use all of the above to control the prioritization of queues and routing accordingly

Sync vs Async messaging

2. Automatically assign and route to the best resource:

  • Routing automation determines the skills or queues assigned to each conversation

  • Bots are often the first point of contact, followed by a smooth hand-off to a human, where necessary

“Although bot containment is often the goal, some organizations will leverage conversational AI to triage and collect data before hand-off to an agent.”

Wendy Mikkelsen, Senior Product Marketing Director, Khoros

3. Resolve with either automation or agent assist:

  • Use data, machine learning, and natural language processing to determine intents and entities
Agent Assist

4. Measure performance and deliver insights:

  • Monitor operations by efficiently handling and resolving more customer conversations with smarter workflows and higher-quality outcomes

  • Manage teams by understanding team performance and balancing productivity, quality, and agent happiness

  • Identify scenarios where new automation can be applied

Agent dashboard

5 Steps to transforming your digital service strategy

Once the right service partner is selected, it’s time to start the digital transformation journey. Let’s dive into how to transform the customer experience in a manageable, step-by-step process.

Digital transformation snapshot

1. Build: Find your starting point

Find a starting point that makes the most sense.

Here are some critical questions to keep in mind:

  • Where do you see the highest volume of inbound inquiries?

  • Where can you streamline processes to make it easier for your agents to serve customers?

For a lot of companies, these look like social channels. In fact, according to a study by the University of Southern California, 67% of companies believe social media customer service is the most pressing short-term priority for contact centers.

The study also found that social care costs about one-sixth of the cost of phone interactions. Businesses can connect with customers on active platforms, making it easier to provide prompt and convenient support and receive real-time feedback to resolve issues. This approach improves customer satisfaction by providing quick and personalized service and enhances brand visibility and reputation by demonstrating a proactive approach to customer care.

Brand Spotlight

Sony Europe needed a way to provide faster, higher quality social media customer service. It started by implementing Facebook and Twitter with Khoros for its Dutch-speaking market and gradually expanded into new languages every few months.

Within the first year, the Tech giant achieved a 17% increase in agent efficiency year-on-year! 

Over four years, Sony Europe doubled its agent efficiency and saw a 20% increase in volumes handled. Learn more here.

Digital Transformation

2. Grow: Expand channels and accessibility

Once a solid foundation is in place, consider expanding the channels integrated into the unified platform. For many businesses, this is messaging and chat. Think Apple Messages for Business,Google Business Messages, and WhatsApp.

Apple and Google messaging help businesses:

  • Deflect calls

  • Reduce costs

  • Increase satisfaction

  • Drive higher conversion rates and revenue

Apple Messages for Business also opens up new avenues for commerce, allowing quick and secure checkouts within a conversation.

With WhatsApp, brands can:

  • Automate inquiries with chatbots

  • Increase agent efficiency with asynchronous messaging

  • Reduce costs and increase satisfaction

  • Send proactive message notifications

Brand Spotlight

After NAB successfully integrated Facebook Messenger into its Khoros platform, it expanded its channels to Google Business Messages. In the few months post-launch, NAB saw a 3X increase in efficiency, and 80% of questions were resolved in Google’s Business Messages.

3. Enrich: Generative AI for Chatbots and Agent Assist

After brands have integrated social and digital channels into their unified platform, it’s time to enrich those channels with future-forward capabilities.

According to leading analyst, Gartner, by 2026, conversational AI deployments within contact centers will reduce agent labor costs by $80 billion. Simultaneously, the market for generative AI in customer service will surge, reaching an estimated $2.8 million by 2032.

Enhancing social and digital channels with rich capabilities like generative AI, chatbots, and agent assist tools will help:

  • Deflect calls by encouraging customers towards automated and self-service options.

  • Contain conversations by automating service intents, FAQs, troubleshooting, and ticketing.

  • Consolidate channels and equip agents with AI-powered desktops and assistance for fast, quality resolutions to increase agent efficiency and retention.

  • Simplify and accelerate responses and improve your time-to-value by incorporating self-learning knowledge loops and an AI-driven knowledge base to produce SEO articles from customer interactions.

Brand Spotlight

In 2020, Three Ireland, a leading mobile operator, saw customer expectations skyrocket, with daily message volumes increasing by 286%. This led to longer wait times and more pressure on agents. The brand worked with Khoros to streamline its processes by reducing the number of queues, implementing a bot, and using automation for things like tagging and routing.

At the peak of COVID, Three Ireland was hitting an average Service Level of 39% weekly. After the changes made with Khoros, its average increased to 77%, exceeding its target of 70%.

Agent assist desktop view

4. Connect: Social + Digital + Voice

Following the integration of social and digital channels, it’s a great time to bring voice into the mix. Connecting digital and voice in one platform rounds out the truly unified customer experience and propels brands forward in their digital transformation journey.

How Jetson transformed its customer service through digital transformation

As Jetson noticed the customer service landscape evolving, it wanted to be there for its customers, focusing on making its customer service and experience a differentiator for the brand. Frustrated with using four separate tools (not including native social channels), it searched for a partner to help and grow with it and discovered Khoros was the perfect fit.

Two of the most important reasons that Jetson chose Khoros were its all-in-one solution – agents have one place to log in and connect with customers across different channels – and its analytics.

Jetson started by integrating social channels and then quickly followed that with live chat channels. Shortly after, it implemented a chatbot and then voice channels.

Today, messaging is Jetson's primary means of communication, with 85% of the volume going through digital channels.

When asked what recommendations they would give to companies looking to make the change, Jetson’s VP of Customer Care and Experience responded:

“First, I would tell you to understand your volume. Understand where you are currently with your customers. If you have some insight into the demographics of the customers, that's always helpful, too. I think everyone will admit that different generations have different preferences in how they want to interact with brands, so that's key. But when you're looking for a partner, ensure that the partner you consider is ready to grow with you. There are products out there that are great, but when you need something from the vendor, for example, an enhancement or a change, it's challenging to make happen, or it comes with a considerable price tag. So, the partnership is critical. That was key for me, and Khoros has been great with that.”

5. Accelerate and keep moving forward

When digital transformation is executed successfully, the results are encouraging and exciting. As brands look to the future, it’s essential to understand that digital transformation is a continuous journey of refining processes to stay agile and one step ahead of the competition.

It’s important to choose a digital customer experience partner like Khoros who is committed to your success and continuous improvement.

Accelerate and keep moving forward

How Khoros can help

The key to success is always being available for your customers wherever and whenever they need you. Khoros Service is a solution that helps enterprise businesses scale their customer service operations quickly, seamlessly blending synchronous and asynchronous modes. ​​

We are firm believers in the idea that every component, whether it is AI-powered bots or business applications, should work together to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of customer engagement strategies.

Our customer service software allows brands to serve customers on their digital channel of choice with unmatched operational insight to boost satisfaction and reduce costs. When you unify multiple channels in a single workflow, you empower your agents with the ability to engage across all touchpoints, including but not limited to:

  • Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Apple Messages for Business, and Google Business Messages, Line

  • Social networks like Facebook, X, LinkedIn and WeChat

  • Review sites, like Google Play Store, iOS App Store, Yelp, and Trustpilot

  • Brand-owned channels, like web chat, in-app, Email, SMS, and Voice

  • Owned communities, forums, and knowledge bases

Automate your way to a more efficient contact center

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