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Best Practices for Providing Multichannel Customer Service

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Customers today expect the companies with which they do business to be able to interact with them through an ever-greater number of channels. These channels — while still dominated by voice — increasingly also include text messaging, e-mail, live chat and Web self-service. Many companies have already begun adopting these Web-based channels to give customers service choices that transcend traditional phone interactions. Allowing customers to use the channel of their choice not only increases their satisfaction, but it also decreases churn and results in a significantly lower per-interaction customer service cost, according to a recent white paper from Genesys, an Alcatel-Lucent company, entitled, “Using Web 2.0 to Drive Exceptional Customer Experiences.”

If you run a contact center, chances are, you have implemented some of these more basic multichannel options: e-mail or Web self-service, at least. But technology and customer expectations march on, so what’s next? The answer is: Web 2.0.

For many forward-thinking contact centers, Web 2.0 technologies are making possible entirely new forms of customer engagement. By intelligently integrating both phone and Web-based support channels with the robust communications capabilities made possible by Web 2.0, you enable the delivery of a new kind of customer experience — one that can transform customer service activities from line-item expenses into profitable, even revenue-generating, interactions.

The risk many companies take in implementing multichannel contact centers, including Web 2.0 channels, is that a contact center will wind up with too many disparate communications channels that do not integrate and communicate with one another. The difficulty is that, all too often, customer service and sales efforts are fragmented into “silos” scattered throughout various functional departments and lines of business, with no visibility into previous customer interactions across different channels. Because of this, the quality of customer service delivery can be inconsistent. Without robust integration, you put your customer relationships at risk for a multitude of pitfalls, including:

Exceeding customers’ tolerance level for repeating information: Customers don’t like to repeat their customer information and account numbers to each new channel they encounter. They get frustrated if they have to provide their basic data over again because they’ve been switched to a different agent in a different department who has no insight into previous interactions.

Poorly timed sales pitches: Customers don’t want to be hit with a sales pitch when they’re seeking specific help or information. For example, if customers are frustrated with your product or service, they are not likely to be receptive to hearing a script inviting them to consider cross- or up-sell offers.

Repeating processes costs wastes money: Your costs increase if you have to reinvent the wheel with each customer contact. For this reason, you need processes to capture what they learn from customer interactions, no matter where they take place in the enterprise.

For this reason, it’s critical that contact centers seeking to leverage Web 2.0 in their contact centers choose a solution that enables cross channel conversations (click here for more) that will deliver a consistent experience across both voice and non-voice communications media.

With the help of a multichannel contact center solution such as that offered by Genesys, you can take steps to ensure that the customer’s information is a single, cohesive record of his or her relationship with the company, regardless of contact channel used. This record should be accessible by any agent interacting with a customer over any channel, and should include all interactions that the customer has had with the business.

Next, contact centers require a solution that will help them set – and meet — service level expectations for each channel to create an iron-clad rule regarding the handling of each customer contact upfront. To reduce some of the complexity of multichannel customer care, standard response libraries can be created that will help you ensure that business policies are applied consistently regardless of channel.

To make sure the process is working, finally, you must monitor and manage across the whole customer relationship. Even if the agents are distributed geographically or report to different units, you need a unified view of the customer experience and customer engagement with your business. Use reporting tools that let you see and manage the entire customer experience, ensure service level delivery, and support consistent answers and escalations.

Web 2.0 is a concept that’s meant to broaden and deepen the quality of the care you provide to your customers, helping set you apart from competition. But without a robust solution to manage it all, you’ve merely opened up new channels through which to alienate your customers.

For more information about managing Web 2.0 customer care, click here.

Originally posted at: http://next-generation-communications.tmcnet.com/topics/dynamic-enterprise/articles/145168-best-practices-providing-multichannel-customer-service.htm

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  1. March 9, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Great post, I especially found it usefull where you started

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