Running a successful multichannel contact center depends on many factors, but treating customers the same way across all channels is key to doing it right.
In the modern-day contact center, customer service representatives are accustomed to engaging in a multichannel strategy rather than handling customers solely by phone. With the prevalence of social media networks and technologies such as SMS, chat, video, and web, customers are able to reach businesses in a myriad of ways whenever they wish to make a purchase, obtain more information, or get support. The question is: Do contact centers know how best to reach their customers?
To run a successful multichannel contact center, several key points should be considered. For one, numerous studies have shown that customers-while able to connect with business over many channels-still have a preference for calling agents when they need to communicate. Contact centers should therefore never underestimate the traditional voice channel. If a customer cannot get a resolution after contacting a company through some written mode of communication-on Facebook or via e-mail, for example–there is a good chance he or she will call to further pursue their issue or question. It’s also important to keep in mind that some people may not always have access to or prefer social media; this is often true for the more senior generation that’s used to and comfortable with traditional calls.
On that note, contact centers should also not ignore the customers who do have a preference for social media. The various social media sites offer subtle differences in the way people communicate-while Facebook has chat and message features, Twitter is largely conversation-driven and moves at a faster pace. This means that agents should always be vigilant about the pace at which customer messages come in and follow up in an equally timely manner which reflects the manner in which that channel is used: a Tweet should be answered immediately and can only be done with limited characters, while a Facebook message could take a little more time for a well-worded response. With the possibly large volume of inbound messages, it’s a good idea to use a strategy such as forwarding social media messages to a customer service e-mail address to avoid missing a message. In any case, social media messages should never be ignored, should be answered in a timely manner on the same channels on which they come in, and deserve the same effort an agent would make for a customer service call.
Another important point is that channels should be coordinated to avoid giving customers contradictory or repeat information. For example, if a customer service call has been resolved and the case is closed, the customer should not receive texts or emails stating that the case is still open or calls asking if the problem has been resolved. Automated messages and follow-up contact should therefore be carefully managed-make sure the customer receives a follow-up email or text confirming the closed case, not an open one. To achieve this, it’s also necessary to coordinate among agents or other departments who may be in direct contact with customers to make sure messages are clear, consistent, and beneficial to the customer.
Lastly, a close analysis of customers’ engagement behavior can provide critical information for both marketing purposes and providing better customer service. If certain customers show a preference for social media, they may be targeted for social media advertising campaigns or should receive customer service follow-up contact on the channels they use the most.
To deliver excellent multichannel customer service, businesses may employ a number of practices. Most crucial, however, is to remember that observing your customers and listening to what they want are truly key to offering the best service.
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