Managing the customer experience across multiple channels is a key challenge for contact center managers. In fact, our recent research revealed just how important it is to consider the multichannel journey when it comes to converting customer experience into sales.
Given the multitude of ways that we communicate with each other and search for information these days, it's not surprising that there are high expectations for companies to communicate on the customer’s terms across multiple channels, whether it’s chat, telephone, email or social media.
What Can We Do Within the Contact Center to Meet Customer Expectations?
1. Maintain Visibility
It’s essential to connect services offered across the different channels so that agents have a single view of the customer. Calls, emails, chats or tweets – contact center must be capable of tracking across all channels so that customers don’t have to explain their issue over and over.
Our research found that nearly 72 percent of consumers said they would be likely to move to a competitor if faced with agents who do not understand their issue.
In addition to providing agents this type of customer visibility, contact centers that can also channel pivot (instantly switching from one channel to another as the need arises) are in a much better position to manage the customer experience.
2. Minimize Frustrations
While unnecessary repetition is a huge pain for customers, there are plenty of other service faux pas that can also lead to churn.
Our research showed that a top grievance for consumers is being passed around from agent to agent, with over 73 percent of respondents stating that this is likely (or very likely) to lead to them switching to a competitor. Considering that contact center technology exists that makes this very easy to overcome, it’s surprising the issue is so prevalent.
Intelligent call routing enables data lookups as soon as a call comes into the contact center. This can simplify the routing experience through the creation of business rules that determine where the call should be routed – whether it’s a department, team or singular person. Customers can avoid the agent shuffle and get the response they’re looking for much faster, which means you're highly likely to see an improvement in first contact resolution (FCR) too.
Another gripe that we’ve all had at one time or another is being on hold for longer than we expect. Two thirds of those we surveyed said this would lead to considering other vendors or services. This too is easy to overcome.
At minimum, contact center queues should inform customers of expected wait times or of their place in the queue. Call back options aren’t difficult to implement and it gives customers a choice to be called at a time most convenient for them. You can customize the call back to automatically kick in based on rules you design so that you don’t have to worry about spikes in your call volumes.
3. Provide Consistency
Consistency is certainly a challenge when it comes to the multichannel contact center experience. It's important to stay true to your brand through messaging, tone of voice and language used, but also with consistency in menus and help systems. It can be difficult to ensure that voice, email, chat, social and any other channels are in sync.
Set guidelines and communicate these across all teams. Also, make sure that you're routing multichannel inquiries in the same intelligent way as voice calls. Inbound emails can be filtered by the customer’s email address through keyword look ups and then directed to the right team for a quicker response. You could also look up the customer details and route their live chat/email/post to the last agent that they dealt with, or to the customer service rep who has been assigned their case.
4. Deliver Personalization
For those peak times when a wait is inevitable, consider personalizing the experience with in-queue messages that give relevant and useful information to that customer. Examples could be estimated product delivery times or information about back-ordered items. Often this type of information answers the customer’s question without the need for an agent.
Using personalization, you can even promote special offers or you can set up a VIP experience for your best customers, allowing them to bypass the queue altogether.
5. Allocate Resources
A shift towards multichannel means a different skill set is required for the staff who are handling the customer inquiries across these channels. Consider your agent’s skills and make sure they have the training needed to manage communications as you introduce new channels. Work those considerations into your recruitment practices as well.
To review the key research findings and for more on improving the customer journey in a multichannel contact center environment, download the free report “Converting Customer Experience into Revenue.”