30 years ago we had only one channel to communicate: the Phone. 20 years ago Email was introduced and slowly became another available channel. In the last decade the amount of channels soared, and now we have Chat, Web Self-Service, Co-Browse, Social Media or SMS. And who knows what the next big thing is.
The customer’s channel preference is very diverse. And channel usage rates are changing very quickly in the last few years. Phone and Email are still the primary channels, but lately we have seen that in some areas/sectors/industries, Web Self-Service or Social Media are rising to overtake the “traditional” channels.
Customer’s satisfaction with the channels also changes reasonably depending on demography or area/sector/industry. Some people are glad to find the answers themselves; others to use guided assistance; others just like to have someone to do it for them. One thing is certain: everyone wants a consistent experience.
Every customer is expecting a personalised and consistent experience, no matter the channel they use to interact. And sometimes they want (or they need) to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another channel, expecting the journey and the experience to be smooth and seamless. Therefore channel silos are not allowed.
Some interesting stats say that a very considerable amount of customers use 3 or more channels for any shopping transaction. The majority of customers use at least 3 channels for customer service related issues. And the average multi-channel customer spends 30% to 50% more than single channel customers.
Companies need to have a platform that enables multi-channel interactions; that provides the ability to respond and engage customers at any time on their preferred channel; that allows the management of cross-channel interactions; that uses the same process for handling all interactions across all touch-points.
Having such a platform will not only increase customer satisfaction and loyalty (driving more sales and profit) but also bring advantages to the companies in terms of cost, efficiency and effectiveness.
Let’s have a look at three important topics: Channel of choice; Complexity of the query; Cost of the interaction.
Companies need to be prepared to offer their customers all types of service, which needs to be consistent across all channels and touch points/devices. Customers need to be able to get knowledge at the point of need.
Companies need to know the type of interactions they will have. They need to be aware of the complexity of their customer’s queries or issues and what that means in terms of value, resolution and volume.
And then be able to rightly map those types of interactions to the various channels available.
The choice of the right channel allows companies to make significant saves. E.g. by replacing Chat sessions regarding simple queries with Self-Service; by replacing Emails regarding complicated queries with Guided Assistance; by replacing Phone calls regarding complex issues with Chat.