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Multichannel service as USP: Can SuperChat save the day?

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5th Dec 2012
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Dennis Fois of eGain tells MyCustomer.com about the growing interest in making customer interaction a unique selling proposition.

With the economic meltdown making competing on price even less palatable than usual, businesses who operate in commodity markets and particularly competitive sectors are finally waking up to the competitive importance of service. And it will be the power of seamless multichannel service that will separate the winners from the losers. The question this raises, of course, is what side will you be on?

Dennis Fois, director of Cloud customer engagement solution vendor eGain, has vast experience of talking with businesses and customers about the changing service landscape, and conversations inevitably turn to how organisations can make consumer interactions a USP.
“More often than not, when we engage with organisations, we see that their product can be purchased from various other organisations. The consideration is really why purchase from you?” he explains. “Certainly customer engagement and ongoing care have to be distinct unique selling propositions going forward for these organisations. There has to be value-add there.”
Fois suggests that the consumer interaction space is presently “fairly chaotic”, with lots of standards out there, from Net Promoter Score to Customer Effort Score, and no “blueprint” for businesses to work from. But this, he says, mean that at this moment in time there remains an opportunity for organisations to differentiate themselves from the mass with their service offering. However, change is already coming.
“The fact that there is no blueprint approach to copy can only be good news for those organisations that have identified this as an area of importance. And we are increasingly coming across titles like customer transformation officer, who report straight into the CEO’s office. And these businesses are really breaking out of the silos, taking it away from marketing, taking it away from customer service directors, out of service into something that really means something to the brand.”
Inevitably, customer expectations are the driving force here, with seamless multichannel interactions emerging as the most important –and difficult – issue to address.
“There is an expectation from the customer that, irrespective of the channel, the organisation should know who they are and what previous interactions they have had,” says Fois. “There is an expectation that this is not a siloed approach, that it is connected to everything else that the business does. And the penny has dropped amongst organisations.
“We see more and more traction in organisations as they realise how important it is to have a knowledge base supporting them and underpinning all of the channels. But while organisations have clicked on to the multichannel bit, and also understand that you can’t approach it as a silo, it still needs to be connected with something to be truly effective.”
Supporting the customer journey
One such ‘something’ is eGain’s latest solution, SuperChat, a combination of chat and related products from the eGain 11 suite, allowing businesses to engage with customers beyond that of text chat, through unified auto chat, video, voice and co-browse capabilities. Launched today (December 5), the solution combines collaborative customer interfaces and seamless channel hopping to address some of the key customer expectations in customer support.
“SuperChat is the natural progression in our mission to support the customer journey,” says Fois. “And we are moving out of strictly the service arena, into sales as well, as we see that with the multiple channel adoption from the consumer perspective, sales and service are one seamless interaction with the organisation.”
Traditionally, efforts on some channels have had a tendency to be clunky – for instance, chat boxes popping up suddenly on web pages at inappropriate times (“a bit like walking into a shop and then the shopkeeper flooding you with questions,” says Fois). eGain is therefore looking to enable brands to be timely and relevant with their interactions, deploying the channel of choice or preference for the consumer with a view to concluding the transaction, rather than discouraging it.
Chat is a great example, says Fois. “If you get it right, the chances of completion are very high. We came up with SuperChat because there are various scenarios, whereby you need various forms of chat to assist the customer on their journey and there are various examples where you would use different types of chat technologies. Text chat is one you would have seen, but there are more creative options.”
One example is in industries such as financial services where a high degree of form filling out is required to conclude a transaction. In this scenario it is difficult to have a chat about a form, to establish where the customer is on the form and where they are struggling, and it requires a lot of context and conversation. In this situation, there is a large likelihood that the customer will find it requires too much effort to explain what they’re struggling with, and so the consumer will abandon the form.
For this reason, SuperChat contains a product called co-browsing that allows consumers to interact on that page with the agent, allowing the agent to see what they are seeing. “Now the conversation can be focused around the actual issue, without having to go through the difficulty of describing the context,” adds Fois. “It requires far less effort from the consumer and less effort to complete the transaction.”
With SuperChat, eGain is seeking to support those businesses that acknowledge the competitive advantage that customer engagement offers, says Fois.
“There are all kinds of things to consider now, to allow organisations to be more proactive and engaging with the customer, and also be more creative in that engagement to reduce the amount of effort that is required for the consumer.”
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