How do you align channel capabilities to meet customer needs?

10th Jan 2013

Linking and leveraging insights from customer touch points to customer profile data not only makes sense, but is fast becoming a strategic necessity.

The traditional 'one channel, one approach' is no longer sufficient for today’s well-informed, extensively networked, and increasingly impulsive customer. Organisations must employ an integrated multichannel customer engagement strategy that delivers a seamless, consistent, and personalised experience across a variety of different touch points.
Achieving this in practice is easier said than done, however. Customers are currently faced with a plethora of channels that can often confuse, complicate, and confound. When trying to resolve a problem, no one enjoys being passed from person to person or from self-service to a call centre agent. This can, ultimately, lead to an increase in customer 'effort' – defined as how hard a customer must work to resolve a question - and a reduction in customer satisfaction. Research by Convergys has shown that this increased 'effort' typically results in a staggering 11-point drop in customer satisfaction and a 7-point drop in the likelihood of a customer recommending the company to others.
An integrated and aligned multichannel approach has the potential to reduce cross-channel effort. Simply enabling a variety of channels, however, does not guarantee that an organisation is able to optimise the customer experience and safeguard profitability. In order to do this, organisations must both align their customers to the contact channels that best suit them, and also leverage all available customer data to optimise every interaction.
Reducing customer effort through multichannel delivery
Many organisations today are using SMS messaging, live web chat and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to interact with consumers. The culture of instant access to information is serving to create increasingly impulsive consumers that expect organisations to be able to address their queries across communications channels, and to make it easy. Enabling all these channels is one thing; achieving a seamless integration and delivering consistent service across them is quite another. Achieving this integrated service is a significant contributing factor to achieving faster resolution, dramatically reducing customer effort, and driving loyalty.
According to our research, one in four customers is forced to use multiple channels in their quest for a resolution to their problem. While some customers may want to use different channels for different items (e.g., going to an electronics store to inspect goods, while completing any actual purchases online), other customers have a preferred channel for all of their needs. The better the company understands this, the less effort it has to expend in managing the customer experience.
Customer data holds the key to channel alignment
Integrating billing data, customer care, and survey insights can enable companies to create a complete and detailed view of the customer and their preferences. This ensures customer experience managers are much better equipped to leverage profiles of their customers, including preferred channels, to personalise the experience and reduce repeat contacts. This also ensures contact centre agents help build and sustain long-term, profitable relationships with customers and maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction.
Developing a customer profile and utilising myriad data across touch points reveals real opportunities to promote loyalty and coupon schemes, targeting offers to the ‘right customers at the right time’ to maximise offer acceptance. Crucially, analysing data in this way will also help organisations determine the less profitable customers. This is just as important in minimising poorly directed rewards to customers unlikely to ever deliver an appealing return on investment.
Linking and leveraging insights from customer touch points to customer profile data not only makes sense, but is fast becoming a strategic necessity. With the results feeding directly to the bottom line, the question should be how quickly a company can roll out multichannel customer management with supporting data analytics, not whether it is necessary.

John Georgesen is senior director at Convergys Analytics Solutions.


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