Why Fixing Broken Customer Journeys is Essential in a Recession
By Leor Melamedov
Companies around the world are trying to find their footing amid the economic downturn. Inflation, rising interest rates and floundering stocks are leading companies to evaluate ways to save costs. The focus is shifting from top line growth to the bottom line. Any activity that doesn’t directly contribute to the company’s direct revenue comes under question.
As part of this process, companies are evaluating their tech vendors. Which are essential? And which are simply nice-to-haves? Customer-facing technologies such as eSignatures, eForms, and automated workflows that prevent customers from leaving the journey (without sacrificing compliance) are key. Every customer journey counts towards the bottom line. Here, we’ll dig deeper into why.
Cautious Consumers and High Costs
In our current economic reality, high interest rates and rising costs are leading to more cautious consumer behavior. While retail sales in the U.S. have increased by 10% in 2022, most of that reflects the rising dollar value of gasoline and other goods sold at this year’s inflated prices, according to recent Commerce Department data. For example, car sales have risen just 1.5%, far below the pace of inflation.
An extended downturn could affect practically all sectors. Certain banking products are much harder to sell. Insurers are confronted with rising claims costs amid supply chain shortages and high inflation. Consumers are deferring non-urgent healthcare treatments. The list goes on.
Many companies are choosing to tighten their marketing and advertising spend. Combined with reduced consumer spending, it means that companies will need to ensure every prospective and current customer’s journey is completed. Every customer counts more than ever. In this environment, there is no room for lost sales or churned customers.
No Consumer Left Behind?
Companies must develop a strategy to ensure every customer gets to the finish line. Every onboarding attempt must be brought to successful completion. Every servicing issue must be promptly resolved. Every renewal or upsell opportunity must be brought to fruition. Companies cannot afford to have leakage in customer journeys, especially when it can be prevented with the right technology and approach. A digital transformation means reducing the channel bouncing, multiple devices, and cumbersome tasks that so often leads to customers leaving the journey. Lost customers take their business elsewhere.
Despite the clear connection between digital transformation and successful customer journeys, businesses are lagging. According to Workday via The Financial Brand, 55% of leaders say their organization’s digital strategy is often or always outpaced by the demands of the business. Business is still happening, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years. But companies still don’t have the digital infrastructure to serve all customers in a digital and efficient way. As a result, consumers are getting left behind.
Best Practices for Fixing Broken Customer Journeys
Here at Lightico, we brought together industry leaders to discuss ways companies can leverage technology to become recession-proof. Here are some of their insights:
1. Ensure Total Compliance
The bedrock of any solid customer journey is sound compliance. It’s key to take multiple measures to prevent bad actors from falsifying information or receiving something they aren’t entitled to.
“KYC and AML laws aren’t going to go away just because the economy tightens,” says Adam Bacia, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Mitek Systems. “Tech can help safeguard the busines from larger problems that escalate in a downturn economy.”
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These issues include things like breaches and fraud, which uptick when the economy tightens and people are looking for quick ways to make money. In both the short and long-term, safeguarding against risk is essential.
Of course, KYC and AML measures shouldn’t add friction to the customer journey. Our goal is still to get customers to complete onboarding and servicing tasks — without dropping off at any point.
The fix: KYC technologies such as ID verification can make it easy to catch bad actors before they even infiltrate the company’s systems.
Real-time ID verification allows companies to verify their customers’ photo ID securely and instantly — all without requiring them to go to a physical branch.
Here’s how it works:
A bank or call center agent sends a text message with a link to the customer’s smartphone.
The customer clicks on the link, which opens up to a secure mobile environment.
The customer snaps a photo of their ID card, passport, or driver’s license.
The customer takes a live selfie, which is instantly and automatically compared with the photo in their form of ID.
The customer ID and selfie and matched and verified.
2. Cement Customer Loyalty
During an economic crisis, every customer counts more than ever. Customer attrition is a real issue and must be prevented by taking proactive measures. Unfortunately, customers struggle to communicate well with their service providers. According to an Oxford paper, 39% of consumers still find it difficult to get in touch with a brand and have any kind of meaningful interaction.
Elias David, Regional Vice President at Twilio says, “The focus has got to be focusing on your key customers and building hyperpersonalization.”
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The fix: Better customer data. Consider bringing in a customer data platform (CDP) that integrates all of customers’ digital interactions, everything they do at each touchpoint. This prevents companies from being in the dark about customers’ intent and ensures they have a relationship with the brand.
3. Prevent Channel Bouncing
The vast majority of customers (84%) start their journey from one of the company's digital channels, whether that's a website, a mobile app, or a portal. But unfortunately, customers are frequently bounced to a different channel, unable to complete the task from where they started. For example, a customer may be able to apply for a credit card online, but is forced to call the bank multiple times to receive an explanation as to why it was declined. Along the way, the customer is bounced from agent to agent. This erodes customer trust, and can present a churn risk if a simpler provider comes up, allowing everything to be completed from a single channel.
In other cases, a customer actually desires an employee’s input or guidance. They begin the journey online, but once they reach out to a human being, they are forced to repeat all the information they already provided digitally.
The fix: Rick DeLisii, author and lead research analyst at Glia, proposes a “strategy that enables companies to be able to have a live human conversation with a customer, but on that customer's own screen without the need for a separate phone call.” This seamless transfer from self-service to agent-led interaction should be the gold standard. No repeating data, no channel bouncing.
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In addition, automated workflows can ensure all steps of the customer interaction are completed in one go. The customer should receive all requests for an eSignature, eForm, terms and conditions (T&C) consent and anything else from a single channel (whether their mobile phone, a website, or portal) in a single sitting.
Better Customer Journeys = More Business
Business leaders are naturally concerned about the impact a recession or downturn will have on their cash flow. By investing in technology and strategies that eliminate breakpoints in the customer journey, they can slash preventable churn and lost opportunities.
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