A customer journey used to be simple. So simple that it was commonly represented as a linear funnel – go in one end, and hopefully come out the other.
But as both technology and society have evolved, serious complexity has been added to the journey of most customers, not least the fact that it now often begins and ends on a mobile device.
Communication Platforms as a Service (CPaaS) are tools designed to simplify the management and increase the effectiveness of a customer journey that can now span endless channels, platforms, apps and devices.
But what exactly is the problem that these solutions solve, and how do they solve it? To understand that, we first need to understand the current customer journey landscape.
The stages of the mobile customer journey
There are two ways a mobile user can engage with a brand: either by being contacted by the brand, or by initiating the contact.
When a brand reaches out to a customer, the mobile customer journey begins with a notification. This can happen in a myriad of places on a mobile device, from native OS push notifications and SMS alerts, through to emails, app notifications and badges. The notification signals where the communication will take place, so in this scenario the brand is guiding the customer. From there the journey can take any number of paths: an SMS message might contain a URL, which moves the mobile user over to a browser, which might trigger yet another step.
Contrast this with the customer journey when a mobile user wishes to initiate a conversation with a brand. We’re all familiar with billboard advertisements which invite mobile users to engage by sending a text in exchange for more information or a chance to win. As we move into more engaging mobile channels such as WhatsApp, Rich Communication Services (RCS) and voice broadcast, the initiation of the customer journey might begin within the mobile application, where brands make themselves available to their customers in real-time, and a back-and forth interaction filled with multimedia, buttons, chat bots and even videos can occur.
In fact, it won’t be long before added functionality sees the lines between mobile messaging applications and mobile browsers blurring, thanks to links, embedded browsers and ever more sophisticated communication services.
Mobile customer journeys vs. traditional customer journeys
But how does the current mobile customer journey differ from the traditional journeys of the past? There are a few key contrasts.
- They’re mobile
It’s right there in the name. They can take place almost anywhere at any time. It seems almost inconceivable that only a couple of decades ago all our communication was tethered to a physical location. Mobility means that a customer journey is more contextual to a person’s location. Mapping applications like Google Maps or music listening apps like Shazam are good examples of applications that weren’t necessary or possible in a world where communication was tethered.
- They’re faster
We communicate on the go using small devices, and this results in more compact communication. It takes longer to type a message than to say it, so our communications have been cut down to pithy bits and bytes. And because we know that the recipient of our message is more available than ever before, they can be quicker with their communication too. Mobile customer journeys have evolved to reflect the speed of modern interactions.
I recently needed some customer support on an Amazon order. I opened my mobile app, clicked on ‘Customer Service’, then ‘Your Orders’, where a chatbot presented me with my exact order and resolved my issue in literally less than a minute. A human couldn’t have resolved it that fast for me two years ago. Technology has communication moving and evolving at light speed.
- They’re personalized
Mobile devices are highly customized with our own preferred applications, settings and peripherals. This enables brands, businesses and government organizations to create mobile customer journeys that are built around our individual preferences, rather than their own. And it’s not just the ‘what’ of the journey, but the ‘where’ too. In the past business-led interactions were limited to calls to home phones, letters in mailboxes, or radio and TV ads. Now we are telling our brands exactly where we want them to communicate with us, from SMS and voice calls, to YouTube and podcast applications.
Streamlining the mobile customer journey with a CPaaS
Mobile users are constantly moving from one channel to another. They might check email for certain communications, SMS for others, their favorite apps for the rest. They also still receive voice calls.
A Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) is a powerful platform for designing mobile customer journeys.
To provide these mobile users with a seamless experience, you’ll want to consolidate your communications onto a platform that can leverage and coordinate these channels, while providing full control over the security, compliance and auditability of all communications. A trusted, robust CPaaS platform will also allow you to automate some (or all) of the mobile customer journey, and you can decide whether to interact ad-hoc in real time, or at scale and volume via integration and automation.
The days of just selecting one channel and delivering one type of message are behind us. We are now in the era of engagement, which means coordinating an interactive multi-channel experience that is guided by mobile users to wherever they’d prefer to engage with you.
By granting the customer control and making them comfortable, their journey is far more likely to have a successful resolution.