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Let’s face it: there are many fragile – and oftentimes broken - moments in the customer journey. Departmental hand-offs and changes in channel, for instance, add complexity and threaten to derail purchases and sometimes harm loyalty. So how can you bridge those gaps and deliver the seamless experience your customers really want?

It’s important to identify the “grey areas” in your processes and how they affect your customer’s experience, according to Lisa James, Head of Solution Marketing, Service Audience, SAP Hybris.

“We’ve all experienced interacting with certain companies and their experience appears to be operating in silos and they can’t quite connect the dots,” said James (pictured below) during a compelling presentation at the recent SAP Hybris Live: Digital Summit. “From the company’s perspective they might understand the problems this poses to the business: missed opportunities, missed revenues, missed sales. But it’s very important to view from the perspective of the customer.”

James said customers are hearing a lot of noise and messages from competitors and more than willing to jump ship than ever before, even if they've been loyal for years.

“The instant they hit a disconnect, the instant their experience becomes fragmented and frustrated, they’re willing to leave,” said James. “So it’s really important to view these grey areas, these disconnects from the view of the customer, and how it affects their journey.”

Getting out the grey

While the customer journey is fraught with troublesome grey areas, don’t fret. Focus on the following areas instead:

Awareness – A customer typically becomes aware of a need through a triggering action, like a tweet, blog, e-mail promotion or viral video. “Start doing research, to figure out ways to fill this need,” said James who stresses the importance of appearing in top Google search results. “You need to be searchable to help fulfill a customer’s need.”

Interest – Customers are trying to create a viable list of options. Companies should be aware of their customers needs, get data on them and use it as an opportunity to enact a specific campaign to get their attention and show them that your company is worth looking into.

Consideration – Customers now have some offers and at this point should be 100% aware of who you are. “Now is the time to influence them to take the plunge and go with your company,” said James.

Action – Customers go from cart to confirmation, sign contracts or commit to some type of subscription model. “It needs to be very easy for them to understand how to do this,” said James. “A lot of people think the customer journey ends here but it does not.”

Use – The customer has signed the contract but now they might have a question or an issue. Now is the time to be really proactive, to understand what those issues are – even before a customer asks, according to James.

Advocacy – Thanks to the digital era, advocacy is in perpetual motion. Feedback, for instance, and the way your customer is talking about your company whether in person, online, good or bad, needs to be managed. You can turn good feedback into testimonials and address negative feedback.

“Unfortunately, things rarely work end to end,” said James. “Companies work off a broken customer journey and your customer’s experience is really fragmented.”

Common customer experiences that turn into frustrations

Customers often experience discrepancies between in-store and in-person. The problem is that a lot of companies work off this "split personality" model, according to James.

“From a company’s perspective, you don’t want to have multiple voices,” said James. “Customers are already hearing a lot of voices from competitors and they don’t want to hear multiple voices from the same company. It’s hard to get behind a company if you don’t know what they truly stand for.”

To learn more, watch the re-play of “Bridging the Gaps in the Customer Journey” in its entirety (e-mail registration required).