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Seven customer experience goals for multichannel evolution

4th May 2016
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The millennial age is driving customer expectations for organisations to deliver multichannel customer service and sales interactions. Effortless customer service across all channels is now more important than ever. A recent Gartner study found that failure to respond to social channels leads to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers, and Forrester Research revealed 63% of online consumers are more likely to return to a website offering live chat.

The evolution of contact centre strategy has made contact centres themselves more sophisticated and strategically important. Good enough just isn’t good enough anymore; customers are now more digitally aware. Having the Internet, quite literally, at their fingertips via smartphones and tablets, enables and empowers customers to research the best product, price and service in seconds. Inevitably, they will choose the company and channel that offers the easiest access to deliver their service or product of choice.  

The situation has been compared to fast-food restaurants having to adjust their processes to serve up drive-thru, walk-up, online and phone-in orders – so that the same service quality is consistently offered no matter which is chosen – all while still trying to satisfy as many appetites as possible, as quickly as possible. We’re not drawing direct parallels with junk food here; if anything the analogy works because organisations are targeting higher-class fare to be prepared as perfectly as it can be, engendering loyalty and generating value.

But the central principle remains the same: you don’t want silos. You want a single ‘kitchen’, committed to speed and accuracy. You want efficiency but not at the expense of quality. You want consistently great customer experiences that your customers will want to share.

The following seven customer experience goals are well worth achieving as you transform your contact centre for a multichannel future.

  1. Empower customers with flexible communications choices to employ as they wish. The use of traditional voice communications in customer interactions has declined significantly, with more customers opting to use email, social media and web chat.  
  2. Boost productivity by eliminating the inefficiencies of siloed processes for each communications channel. Customers are not only opting for different forms of communication, but are choosing to mix and match the channels they use. To communicate effectively with these customers, a linked up approach is required.
  3. Target customer experience indicators such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Effort Scores (CES) that interrogate positivity and loyalty, rather than relying solely on agent performance metrics. With the increase in social media came the increase of sharing experiences and recommendations. Every interaction with a customer can lead to them becoming an advocate or otherwise…customer experience indicators will allow you to track both.
  4. Drive consistency of customer experience across all channels, by ensuring requisite resources and knowledge are deployed appropriately. There is no best way to interact with a customer. Agents on every channel should have the same level of knowledge and customer service expertise.
  5. Identify and escalate your most important customers and opportunities. This is a given – but remember, these customers and opportunities can reach you through any channel available to them…not just over the phone.
  6. Inspire happier agents who’ll stay employees for longer by equipping them with knowledge and communications capabilities at their fingertips (whether they work in a traditional contact centre or as part of the ever growing remote workforce).
  7. Harness multimedia customer habits and embrace change to avoid playing catch-up with future preferences. It’s important to focus on the channels and tools available today, but without an eye on what communication channel is around the corner, you’ll be in danger of neglecting your early adopter customers.

This last point is an interesting one. While any transformation to multichannel must centre on the concept of dissolving silos; this is a challenge made harder by the continuing emergence of new channels (and the movable feast of customer appetites governing whichever one they fancy using this time).  

Take Twitter, a breathtakingly effective consumer-to-brand communications mechanism, but a creator of organisational chaos if ever there was one. Many organisations found themselves driven by an urgent business imperative to cater for it first, and integrate it later. Today’s business environment is one where customers increasingly dictate how contact centres should work. The message coming through loud and clear is that few can afford to stand still for long. 

Of course not all customer groups are the same, so it isn’t necessarily the same for every contact centre. Each organisation needs to guide the design of its contact centre transformation by understanding the people its agents will interact with.

By taking control, aligning the contact centre with the needs of the business and engaging all stakeholders, including customers and agents, more businesses are now creating Omni-channel contact centres to differentiate themselves in the market - taking every opportunity to increase loyalty and upsell additional services. And as counter-intuitive as it sounds, many are managing to do this while saving costs. This happens when you successfully remove silos of activity, promote more efficient workflows and embrace the power of slick, intuitive automated self-service that customers enjoy using.

Self-service automation is a growing opportunity. Gartner predicts that, by 2020, the typical customer will manage 85% of their relationship with an enterprise without any human interaction – preferring instead to use automated self-service channels. As consumers, we all tend to disparage automated approaches as being somehow inferior to ‘the human touch’ – just look at our reaction to the supermarket self scanner telling us ‘no item found’! The evidence for what we actually do and gain value from, however, is very much to the contrary. 

 

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