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In these digital days, with online and mobile commerce now part of many
people’s standard lifestyle, the customer journey has become often more
rewarding for users, and almost invariably more complex for merchants –
and sometimes for customers too.
Before making an online purchase decision, a customer may engage with
your brand through many different channels over several days. This paper
will help brands explore and understand the customer journey so as to opti-
mise their marketing programs.
Most CIOs and IT leaders recognize that customers will abandon poorly
designed or non-intuitive websites, or will lose patience with errors in billing
or ordering processes.
From sales to marketing to customer service and support, customer interac-
tions must be not only efficient but also streamlined and personalized.
Without the right tools, technology, and business processes in place, a com-
pany can find itself struggling to manage increasing customer demands –
resulting in lost sales opportunities, lower customer satisfaction rates and
On the other hand, an organization that provides a consistent, relevant cus-
tomer experience across all possible communication channels – Web, call
center, e-mail, social, etc. – can boost customer loyalty, trim costs and
improve profit margins.
IT executives realize that customer interaction is a critical IT and business
driver. IDG Research Services recently surveyed CIOs and IT leaders at com-
panies with more than 1,000 employees in various industries, and followed
up with some one-on-one interviews with these executives. The survey found
rank customer interaction as their
rate it as a top-five initiative
expect that investments in customer
interaction technology will grow
over the next 12 months
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Although integrating customer touch points – the way prospect and users
make contact with your company – is a proven formula for success, achieving
it is no simple task.
Organizations need to share data across channels and systems, communi-
cate with customers in an appropriate and desirable format, and introduce
compelling and easy-to-use interfaces – all while managing cost and main-
taining airtight security.
In today’s fast-changing business environment, managing customers in a
holistic way is no longer a want, but a necessity. A new and innovative
approach – using the right collaboration technology to design systems and
solutions from the customer’s point of view – is mandatory.
Remarkably, only 15% of respondents said that their companies do “very
well” in maintaining a consistent user experience across all communications
channels. And the challenges are growing as organizations address sales,
service and support options via a growing tangle of channels, including con-
tact centers, Web sites, branch offices, agents in the field, mail and fax,
e-mail, social, and mobile tools and apps.
Unfortunately, success often proves elusive. Customer interaction continues
to grow in complexity, and many organizations are struggling to keep up. As
the IT director of a large multinational company explained, “Right now we
do not take a proactive approach to customer interaction…we don’t have
anybody taking the initiative.”
And yet without business leadership and IT direction, customer experience
suffers, and the cost to acquire and support customers within dated frame-
works (e.g., call centers, in-person sales) will continue to rise.
Today’s high-stakes business environment can make or break an enterprise.
To compete effectively, an organization must address several key issues
amongst which diverting traffic to lower cost channels, creating new oppor-
tunities for technology-enabled interaction and maintaining high customer
service ratings for increasingly demanding consumers.
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The journey starts from targeting; companies often tend not to focus on this
phase, but it is indeed crucial to target the right customers because it is not
necessary to interact with every customer, rather to concentrate on ‘hot
leads’; - basically those that show more inclination towards online shopping
or towards the involvement in marketing campaigns.
Nowadays this is no longer a choice, it is in fact required to refine the cus-
tomer base so to identify the high-potential ones and intercept any latent
request to contrast the abandonment of the page, and therefore, of the pur-
If you want to increase conversion rates, you have to figure out who exactly
is your primary target audience, what they want, what matters to them and
what are their pain points.
The step after segmentation is adding a differentiator element vs. competi-
tors, for example, by offering hot leads new services and creating up-selling
and cross-selling opportunities.
Time is money, and waiting or the inability of reaching a suitable agent on
the spot are all on the agenda situations and the concept of ‘first contact
resolution’ is often absent.
If you say your target audience is “pretty much everybody” or “anyone inter-
ested in my services”, unlikely you’ll have much of a chance to boost conver-
In the end it’s all about knowing – and digital I sperfect at making informa-
tion available – and about relevance – if what you offer and how you present
it matches their state of mind, you’ve got a customer.
It is simple, because if you know who these people are,
you know how to get to them.
If you know how they describe the type of services they
offer, you can word the copy on your site to match the
conversation in their mind.
If you know how they choose and compare products in
your category, you know how to structure and prioritize
content on your site.
If you know what they want, your value proposition can
state exactly that and the whole site can be 98% relevant
If you know what they don’t care about, you can leave it
out and focus on what actually moves the needle
If you know how your product/service improves their
lives, you know which benefits to emphaisze.
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Brands can easily decide when and who to engage, based on wide variety of
rules: Where (country and property) is you visitor coming from? What did
he/she search on Google? Was it a click on an advertising banner or a re-tar-
geting campaign? How often has he/she visited a given product page?
A well-developed proactive engagement strategy uses business rules to
identify hot prospects or high value customers and the ensuing strategy, and
the most appropriate ways to make the engagement feel personable.
Broadly speaking, customer service can be divided in two macro categories
according to the approach agents have with their visitors and customers:
agents wait for customers to
ask questions, and provide
appropriate answer as and
agents monitor website user
behavior, foresee possible criti-
cal points and/or the questions
that may arise during naviga-
tion, and volunteer support
Reactive customer service – currently the most widespread approach - tends
to solve customer problems at the moment they materialize, as per the cus-
tomer taking action.
Proactive customer service, instead, anticipates user needs and issues/ques-
tions and volunteers instant and customized feedback, sometimes foretell-
ing answers to problems and more importantly uncovering latent customer
needs: opting more for a participative conversation style than a pure prob-
lem-solution logic; and often getting users to focus more on opportunity
than on problem.
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Proactivity has a number of significant implications, for users and for brands: From a business point of view, proactivity allows to boost conversion rates,
whilst at the same time decreasing customer service operation costs,
improve levels of service and, therefore, customer satisfaction as well as, last
but not at all least, average transaction values.
With proactivity, customer care is no longer confined to post-sales support,
but like in a real high-street shop, can guide and support customers during
the entire selling process. Offering the customer the right answer at the right
moment is a key intangible asset when it comes to closing a potential sale
that otherwise might have been lost.
Let us now review some characteristics of proactive engagement to better
understand how effective it can be and why companies should invest on it.
The support option is to be visible to users, through graphic ele-
ments (popup, banner, side-tab, etc.) that stand out on the brand’s
website, such that users clearly understand support is only one
The support option is to be clearly visible only – or mainly – to the
right user, the user a brand wishes to target, i.e. one that really
needs help, the higher value one, the so-called ‘VIP’/loyal customer
The support option is to be clearly visible to the right user at the
right time, in situations where he/she is really in need, or where
he/she could consider valuable an interaction with an agent
The support option is to be clearly visible to the right user at the
right time and via the right channel; interactions can take place
over a number of media – chat, voice, even video, and in some
cases situations such as being on the go dictate the ideal channel
for the interaction
The support option is to be clearly visible to the right user at the
right time, via the right channel and with the appropriate agent; in
today’s fast-paced consumer environment, users expect
laser-sharp answers, often only available when the appropriately
trained agent is presented with the question
The aspect of the message inviting to contact an agent is very important; the
message has to be clear and short, and based on the assumption that users
ware highly likely to appreciate human support.
Many are the specific options, but in broad terms they all fall in two distinct
categories: banners and popups; banners identify a more reactive approach
– buttons users have to willfully click onto -, popups address proactivity –
they materialize in a visible location of a page when certain rules are met;
both can be featured, the popup sometimes referring to the banner.
The invite should never be too intrusive or difficult to close or decline., and
should strike a balance between standing out form the rest of the page they
appear on, and being in keeping with the page’s look and feel.
Colors & picture
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Consumers answer in different ways to different stimuli - pictures, colors and
images. Indeed: it will therefore be useful to experiment and monitor feed-
back of messages proposing different imagery, text and colors. In many
cases, a picture of an agent added in the invitation banner has been found to
convey the right message.
The invitation message text can turn out to be the key element to increase
the acceptance rate. The higher the correlation between the message and
the page the user is on, the higher the chance of a contact.
Instead of a generic ‘Need help?”, a different way of expressing the availabil-
ity of an agent to support can be implemented, such as ‘Can we help choos-
ing the most convenient product?’, or ‘Can we explain you how to reduce
your monthly bill?’.
In some cases – form filling is almost invariably a pain point - it can prove
useful to signify that help can be provided in filling in the form with a simple
yet effective ‘Can we help filling in this form?’.
With chat now being mainstream in a number of contexts – and not just
amongst the younger generations – a “Click here to chat with an agent’.
Might in itself be a simple way of tempting users into starting to interact.
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Timing is everything, and needs to be taken itno serious consideration- To
maximize the number of contacts, it is essential to identify the magic
moment to launch an invitation.
The perfect combination of page positioning, purchase process phase, cus-
tomers’ intention to buy and specific assistance boosts acceptance rate. The
basic rule is not to be too intrusive, whilst still being visible ebough to alert
users to the presence, and ease of activation, of the live support.
Testing is key, and adjustments can be minor – for example, does the
engagement rate change when you offer support 30 seconds after the proac-
tivity rule has been met, rather than 60 seconds after?
Voice & chat
These are all considerations that have to be made in order to identify the
perfect time and gain the full attention of your visitor; the increase of the
conversion rates is now just two steps away.
Scenarios are also possible where the
interaction starts over one channel – for
example chat – and escalates to another,
without the interaction session being
interrupted and therefore preserving all
the information exchanged up to the han-
dover point. Or, in a situation where users
are invited to supply their phone number
to be called back, offering the possibility
of interacting via chat can be an intriguing
option for privacy-conscious users (or for
those who fail to remember their own
number) - choice is usually always wel-
come, choosing when and which channel
to use can lead to an increase in interac-
With the advent of IP, interactions can take place over a number of different
channels, and technology is available to address all of them based on either
customer preference or contact center resource optimization or both.
Chat has the undeniable advantage of being more immediate and less intru-
sive, but certain customers feel more at ease with voice conversations.
Constant monitoring is important to guarantee the success of a Proactive
Engagement project. Through tests it is possible to study what works best,
cluster by cluster or even user by user - which interface elements (banner,
Popup, messages) are more effective than others., when, why.
A/B Testing allows to evaluate the performance, in regards to one or more
objectives, of different variations of one same rule/banner displayed on a
rotation base to a sample of visitors.
It is advisable to use short-term comparison and control groups to verify the
effectiveness of rules. Customers can react in different ways to the multiple
elements of the engagement offer, including and most importantly how
intrusive the support is perceived to be.
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An invitation sent at the wrong time can be a source of distraction for the
customers, and repeating an invite several times can be annoying for them.
To increase customer satisfaction, invitations can be limited to one or two
per each browser session, and their frequency can be limited too, leaving a
couple of minutes between two successive invites.
For example. if a customer has already been invited through a Popup and
has declined or if a customer has already been displayed more than 3 pages
with a reactive banner or is a recurring visitor and has already declined/ac-
cepted an invitation, it is wise not to insist.
When creating proactive engagement rules, the
combinations of invite conditions and the number of
times that these conditions have been offered
should be analyzed.
Certain visitors are unlikey to chat or to receive a call back after the first
invite; however, if they need help in the future, showing evidence of the
availability of the live option will increase the likelihood of a future interac-
tion, with all its benefits.
Imagine this scenario: a customer is browsing the WebSelfCare knowledge-
base and performs a search. They either don’t find any matching results or
don’t feel the results answer perfectly their question.
An option to start a chat with a contact center agent is offered – this could be
either proactive or reactive, depending on page, customer requirement and
potentially the search terms used.
Another scenario: a customer is browsing the WebSelfCare knowledgebase
and accesses a ‘high value’ – defined by the brand in its content manage-
ment system, and identified by an ad-hoc rule in the interaction system -
knowledgebase article, such as ‘How do I apply for a mortgage?’ or ‘How do
This results in the customer being prompted to engage in a complementary
chat with a contact center agent.
Proactive engagement proves more beneficial when used in conjunction
with reactive banners. It often proves impossible to predict exactly when visi-
tors will need assistance, and in this respect a combination of proactive rules
and engagement banners can help alerting prospects and customers to the
existence of the chat/callback features.
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Being connected straight away with the right agent is not always easy, but
entails benefits in the short and long term.
In an ideal scenario, the connection is immediate and it contributes to opti-
mising customer service processes, making them more efficient and effec-
tive - multimedia features such as content and form sharing allow agents to
manage customer faster and more accurately can also engender substantial
customer loyalty growth.
In a realistic scenario, the first agent might not be the right point of call for a
customer’s query/question, in which case with systems like chat being used,
agents don’t need to waste too much precious time in explaining the situa-
tion to colleagues, and users will find the escalation simpler and more con-
ducive to resolutions: the customer will be then satisfied with the service
received and, in the future, won’t hesitate in using again the same channel or
recommend it to other users.
Three main aspects need to be taken into consideration.
Firstly, interaction management is improved since the
agent is supplied with contextual information with
respect to the online customer/prospect (it means where
and when he has requested the engagement through,
which proactive rule and for which product/service).
The agent will be equipped with an effective and com-
plete knowledge base; he will be trained with regard to
the existing contents, a formal process of transcript analy-
sis (what customer ask for) is defined and knowledge base
Lastly, the Collaboration and Form Sharing features are
enabled and these allow the agents to give a better sup-
port to the customers.
Collaboration and co-browsing are two features that deserve further empha-
They allow agents to know in real time the navigation path of each visitor,
the page they are currently viewing, and where they asked for help.
Combining real-time dialogue with page pushing, content sharing, and form
sharing are operations that enable the most productive management of cus-
tomer requests and increase the likelihood that the question will be resolved
in the first contact.
Great customer service is the foundation of good, lasting, repeat business.
Customer satisfaction has long been, and still is, the Holy Graal for retailers,
and pretty much for every business-
Digital media now brings a whole new significance to customer satisfaction,
and a wide array of systems and processes that can not only impact satisfac-
tion, but equally – and in real time, measure it.
As per a well-known mantra, it costs five times as much to win a new custom-
er than to keep an existing one.
Not only this, customers are not loyal by nature and research shows that
emotion influences purchase decision six times more than rationale.
Connecting to your customers on a human, emotional level is the key to
establishing a lasting relationship with your brand.
You can now go beyond simply delivering your product, and develop strong
bonds with your customers.
It is essential that you provide a unique customer experience by proactively
anticipating your customers’ needs and expectations and exceeding them,
Service excellence is an attitude engrained in every department and it
begins and ends with your people, from cashier to CEO. It requires more than
a streamlined customer service department or a slogan on the lunchroom
wall. Excellence is a consistent, premium service at every step, set by a
service-oriented culture that drives your company strategy at every level.
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Segment your customers; you do not
have to interact with everyone
Offer interaction mainly to the most
Do not offer support if the right agent
is not available
Be proactive in offering support at the
Customize the support invite and make
it significant to the customer
Design the interaction exploiting in full
the capabilities of your digital assets
Select the right interaction channel
Employ resources committed to online
See that the agent has all the neces-
sary information to offer the proper
level of support
Train your agents to close the sale!
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