With the rapid growth in the number of customer service channels available to the consumer comes the opportunity for organisations to improve their brand reach, customer experience and ultimately customer satisfaction.
According to a recent report by Forrester, adoption of online customer service channels, such as web self-service, chat with live agents and social media, is exploding.
The report highlights that consumers across all age demographics now expect relevant and seamless customer service across all channels. The conundrum facing many organisations however is how to align communication channels and ‘join-up’ often siloed customer service channels to meet consumer’s expectations for consistency.
Some of the key takeaway points from the report are:
- Customers want companies to value their time. 71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
- Voice is the most used communication channel for service. Voice, which 73% of customers use for customer service, is still the most widely used channel. However, web self-service and digital channels like chat and email are following close behind.
- Chat is increasingly popular. Online chat adoption among customers has risen from 30% in 2009 to 43% in 2012. In addition, it has the highest satisfaction rating of any channel used, after voice.
- The demise of email is premature. Email remains the third most widely used communication channel among US online adults. In the past three years, email usage has increased by two percentage points, from 56% to 58%.
- Social channels are increasingly important. Online communities and Twitter have seen increases in usage rates in the past three years. However, satisfaction remains low for these channels, as companies have not invested in best practices for managing interactions on these channels.
One of the key issues in the report is the impact on customers satisfaction levels when interacting over multiple channels, which often fall short. Forrester are keen to stress that these ratings are not a reflection of the technology used, but rather the lack of attention around content maintenance. Though mature content maintenance processes exist to keep content in-line with customer demand, most organizations have not had the discipline to adopt them. The result is content - answer to customer questions - that does not match customer expectations.
These findings were also reflected in our own research, with 65% of consumers surveyed having received inconsistent information when contacting brands via multiple channels and seven out of ten ranking this kind of poor multi-channel experience as a major annoyance.
So what can organisations learn from this and what strategy do they need to devise to improve multi-channel customer service?
- Ensure consistency – deploying a centralized knowledge-base and populating it strategically will ensure that the same information is given to customers over every channel.
- Maintenance is crucial – your web self-service is only as good as the information in your knowledge-base. It is key that information on products and services are up-dated constantly and added to in order to keep information accurate and timely.
- Implement a long-term strategy approach to maintaining and optimizing the database. Who will be responsible for this internally? / Will your customer service software provider offer this service? / How often will up-dates be made?
- Agree ownership procedures for proposing, editing and publishing new content – whilst approval process’s need to be in place, ensure that this procedure is easy and quick to implement.
- Listen to your staff & customers – implement systems for monitoring customer feedback via web self-service and contact centre agents and react! Use analytics to up-date your knowledge-base to fill any knowledge gaps identified by customers or agents as customer issues are resolved. Your data-base should evolve and grow constantly.
- Clarify ownership of your data – if you use a third party supplier to host your knowledge-base, ensure you have ownership of the database should you decide to change suppliers in future.
Find out more about our intelligent FAQ knowledge-base self-service software for websites, social networks, e-mail contact forms, mobile and contact-centres.