The Holistic Customer Journey Framework: Thinking Beyond Products & Brands

In the digital age, customer experience is everything.

However, it’s also more difficult than ever for businesses to be and do everything for their customers.

We live in a highly-interconnected world where customer needs can’t be served by a single product or brand. As a result, the customer journey has evolved; it’s no longer linear or as predictable as it once was.

In order to create better customer experiences, businesses must identify and improve the range of touchpoints, pathways, and channels involved. And this starts with considering the entire customer experience holistically.

Understanding the Holistic Customer Journey

One of the biggest challenges of digital customer journey mapping is the fact that there is no single defined journey.

The modern customer journey is a diverse, non-linear, interconnected experience involving multiple touchpoints and service providers. There are multiple touchpoints and pathways that can bring a new customer to the point of purchase.

The good news is, brands and businesses can use this knowledge to contribute to a holistic customer experience that improves customer loyalty, reduces friction, and improve support quality.

The first step is understanding the differences between the traditional, linear buyers’ journey and the diverse customer journeys modern consumers follow along digital channels and touchpoints.

What Does It Mean to Have a Holistic Approach to Customer Experience?

When people talk about the customer journey, most of them are referring to a specific path consumers and end-users follow as they purchase, interact with, and react to products, brands, and customer service agents.

But there’s a problem with this way of thinking: it only works if every person has the same experience with your product or brand.

Furthermore, the true customer journey should encompass interactions with all relevant businesses and organizations – not just the people on your team. After all, your customers aren’t just your customers; they’re consumers and users of countless goods and services.

So, rather than focusing on streamlining your customer journey, it’s important to think about optimizing the entire customer experience – no matter what their journey looks like.

As business ecosystems break down traditional silos between different brands and services, the customer journey is changing its shape as well.

What Does It Mean to Have a Holistic Approach to Customer Experience?

The new holistic customer experience more closely resembles of a web of interactions. It can take different paths depending on the customer and their goals and the channels they learn about, purchase, and receive support for products and services.

Why Should Customer Service Teams Approach CX Holistically?

Here are a few reasons businesses need to start thinking about the customer journey holistically.

1. A holistic approach to customer experience leads to better, faster support resolutions.

When you look at individual interactions within the context of the entire customer journey, everything starts to make more sense.

For instance, if you know what support issues a customer has experienced in the past, who they spoke to about the problem, and what the solution was, you can save a ton of time in troubleshooting the next time they reach out to your team.

2. Looking at the holistic customer journey makes it easier to spot opportunities for improvement.

Companies that focus on the holistic customer journey are more concerned about improving the overall customer experience than moving customers through a series of predefined steps.

When you account for the role of third-party service providers, different customer personas, and other factors that contribute to the customer experience, it becomes easier to identify (and smooth out) potential sources of friction.

3. Creating better customer experiences inspires stronger customer loyalty and reduces customer churn.

Customer experience plays a major role in earning referrals, fostering brand advocates, and scoring repeat customers. With a holistic approach to customer experience, businesses can inspire long-term customer loyalty and bump up retention.

According to research from Microsoft, 96% of consumers worldwide name customer service as a key factor influencing brand loyalty. Furthermore, a 2017 study by Accenture found that 1 in 3 people had stopped doing business with a company within the previous year due to poor customer experience.

6 Strategies for Delivering a Holistic Customer Experience

If you want to set your support team up for success, it’s important to prepare for customers’ changing needs and keep up with evolving expectations.

Here are 6 strategies your team can use to start thinking about the customer journey holistically.

1. Make Customer Experience Management a Top Priority

Customers aren’t just important to your business – they are your business. It goes without saying, but without someone paying for your services or products, your business wouldn’t exist.

That’s why it’s so important to start taking customer experience management seriously. Ideally, CX management should be championed from the top-down. This type of organizational shift is most effective when it’s led by someone high up in the headship food chain. If company leadership supports and promotes customer experience as a top priority, then policies can be developed and implemented to support and improve the customer experience.

2. Create a Holistic Customer Journey Framework

Digital customer journey mapping isn’t as simple as it used to be. But just because customer experiences are less predictable now, doesn’t mean you can’t design a framework to optimize them. You can still map your customers’ journey – you just need to recognize that there’s more than one potential path.

Keep in mind that defining a holistic experience needs as many perspectives as possible from team members who interact with customers on every channel you offer. So, for best results, try to involve a cross-section of your team from different departments.

3. Delight Customers at Every Touchpoint

Support teams can get ahead by treating every customer interaction as a chance to delight and impress. This comes down to reliable service on every channel provided by informed agents who can resolve issues quickly and painlessly – even if the problem stems from another service provider within the business ecosystem.

By providing easy-to-access resources and channels that allow customers to find exactly what they need at every touchpoint, you can improve the entire customer experience rather than just a single interaction.

4. Tailor the Experience to Different Personas

Not only should you look at optimizing each point in the customer’s journey, but you should do so from the various perspectives of your different customer types. This allows you to get more granular in your understanding of the different customer experiences without making too many assumptions about how customers will interact with your business.

Remember that different buyer personas will have different customer journeys that play out over different timeframes – each with specific priorities at each stage and touchpoint.

5. Build Relationships Within Your Business Ecosystem

The old way of thinking was that customers followed a fairly linear journey with predefined stages. But that only works if your business is the only one serving each customer – which is rarely the case anymore.

That’s because the modern customer experience involves multiple brands and service providers working within an interconnected business ecosystem.

As more devices and services become interconnected, support is no longer a 1:1 conversation between your business and the customer. Instead, it’s an ongoing dialogue between every business in your ecosystem and the customer.

The best way to serve your customers going forward is to embrace your business ecosystem. That means working with the other brands and service providers involved in your customers’ holistic experience.

By collaborating with other players within your business ecosystem, you can zoom out and develop a clear understanding of the holistic customer journey.

6. Leverage Omnichannel Support Technology

What’s one of the best ways you can deliver seamless support at every touchpoint? Empowering your frontline agents. Provide your support agents with access to the right the technology, resources, and shared knowledge they need to excel.

By investing in omnichannel support solutions that address the customer journey holistically, businesses can deliver a seamless customer experience across various channels and teams. Omnichannel support technology helps to streamline communication and promote collaboration – whether it’s within the organization, across different teams, or between support agents and the customer.

Keep Zooming Out Until You See the Big Picture

The modern customer journey is non-linear, diverse, fragmented, and continually evolving. There is no single buyers’ journey or direct path that all customers follow consistently.

By shifting their perspective to visualize the customer journey holistically, businesses can consider all possibilities, optimize every channel, and be prepared for anything. And since your brand reputation is impacted by how customers perceive your level of service, adopting a holistic approach to the customer journey is key to setting your business up for long-term success.