Today’s customers use a number of different channels to communicate on a daily basis: social media, messaging, email… and sometimes those channels offer them the opportunity to present themselves as different identities. But they also have the expectation to be recognised across every channel and conversation.
72% think that customer service agents should know their contact information, product information and service history the minute that they engage with a brand. So, if multiple digital channels are not fully integrated, then it's extremely difficult for customer care programmes (and agents) to get a comprehensive 360-degree view and knowledge base about each customer.
The management of digital identities is essential for driving effective customer engagement. It’s critical to keep track of all your conversation history (regardless of channel), aggregating all data points, and merging identities. Doing so will help organisations to deliver much more efficient and rewarding experiences.
An omni-digital existence
The use of digital platforms is a popular and growing trend in customer care, allowing superior flexibility when compared to single channel communications like phone calls. Platforms like WhatsApp, iMessage and Messenger are now predominantly used by consumers, with around 80% of adults and 91% of teens actively using them. People have grown used to the benefits afforded by these digital messaging platforms, hence their desire to engage with organisations using them.
It therefore makes complete sense that companies today must offer customer engagement via the main communications channels that are used by their stakeholders. It’s reported that people use approximately seven channels when connecting with companies (dependent on context and level of urgency). And people often use multiple touch points for a single enquiry.
There are certain drivers that make people feel the need to strike at multiple touch points - for example, if someone first contacts a company via private message and they find the response time too slow, they’re likely to take the conversation into a social platform like Facebook, with the knowledge that the company may well respond more quickly to minimise negative online perceptions and ratings.
The crux of the challenge( and actually the opportunity for forward-thinking organisations) lies in the fact that each customer has the potential to ‘own’ multiple identities, across numerous communications platforms. It’s very commonplace for people to possess different user IDs, social handles, aliases, and phone numbers. These digital identities need to be identified and understood by companies.
The challenges and opportunities around multiple digital identities
Brands and companies find it difficult to determine if the same person has contacted them multiple times, resulting in customers repeating their problems. CITE Research reported that 88% of people dislike repeating themselves when engaging with multiple channels.
This highlights a number of issues: having multiple messages for an enquiry increases ticket volumes, where agents have to send responses about the same issue numerous times. This is wasted and expensive time that could have been dedicated to processing other interactions, and that contributes to an increase in response times and a bigger backlog.
Whilst an increasing number of companies are adopting an omni-digital approach by being present on multiple channels, they also need to streamline the infrastructure of their customer service. The traditional model is centered around channels: one team takes care of social media, another for live-chat, and another for phone calls. However, being reliant on different teams and tools makes it impossible to merge identities to get a complete overview of a single customer’s situation.
How to adapt to digital identities
The first step is to move away from the traditional organisation approach, with multiple touch points dedicated to each channel. By implementing a unified tool for all channels, companies can expect to see improved customer experiences and simplification around resource management.
Organising digital identities brings agents numerous benefits:
- Access to a full history of past conversations across all digital channels.
- A comprehensive 360° customer view.
- Not having to ask customers to identify themselves or repeat their problems.
- Reduced volume of interactions by detecting similar messages.
Whether customers choose to use messaging, live-chat or social media, companies can access their information seamlessly. By providing a complete view, identity merging contributes to first contact resolution: with all the information available, agents can solve problems more easily, without the customer needing to contact customer service again.
It’s critical for businesses to offer customers a consistent experience across the full range of digital channels. Today’s agents need to be best equipped with the full customer story, so they can deliver effective and personalised customer experiences. It’s a win-win all round: customers get the response they want when they want it; agents feel satisfied that they are doing their jobs well and companies save time and money as well as providing the best brand experience possible.