Richard McCrossan looks at how a flexible and holistic digital customer service solution can enable companies to take advantage of new customer channels.
Customers quickly adopt new channels as they appear think Twitter, Facebook, mobile, web-chat and apps and they expect the companies with whom they do business to do the same.
The rapid proliferation of channels has made it difficult for companies to provide effective, cost-efficient customer care. In their struggle to find the right way to handle new digital channels, many have just added each channel in a siloed approach.
But customers don’t think in channels they want to be able to ask a query on web-chat and pick the conversation up a day later on the phone without having to repeat information.
And because reporting is also done in silos, it makes it difficult for management to get insight into the overall customer experience, understand issues, and have the agility and knowledge to solve them.
Voice remains the original silo
Voice remains a valuable way to connect with customers. According to Forrester’s ‘Navigate the Future of Customer Service’ report, voice is still the primary communication channel used by all demographics, with 73% of respondents using this channel to speak to an agent.
When there are complex problems that are more easily and quickly solved with real-time interactions, when time is of the essence or when customers are already frustrated and could use special focus and care, a call with a live agent provides a more satisfying experience for the customer and a more valuable interaction for the company.
Yet, the voice channel often sits in its own silo, making it impossible to move interactions from digital channels to voice. This also makes it impossible to provide proactive human assistance for digital customers. Too often, it means that customers must end their digital interaction, pick up a phone, and call into the call centre where the agent has no knowledge of what they were doing on the digital channel.
Digital buyers are missing a massive opportunity by ignoring voice. Corporate silos drive customers crazy, and receiving different answers from different employees of the same company, or experiencing different types of service on two different channels creates customer frustration. With a cohesive approach to digital customer service, customers can receive the same, consistent experience from all employees and across all channels.
One face to the customer, regardless of channel
While automation such as web-based knowledge bases can trim costs from customer service, it also removes opportunities where a human connection can make a difference. A customer can find the details on a complex product in a knowledge based article. But if an agent was involved in the interaction, they might have discovered that the knowledge-seeker was actually a prospective customer and could have closed a sale on the spot.
If an agent was involved in an interaction, for example, on the shop floor, it would be easy to tell, instinctively, when a customer is making buying or distress signals. In the digital domain, it is just as important and valuable to have a human connection in order to convert such ‘buying signals’ into a purchase, or the ‘distress signal’ into a solved query, leaving the customer satisfied with the service.
The power of one: digital customer service
Solving these issues requires rethinking the approach to using digital channels for customer service. It also means seeing customer interactions as customers see them, as a single dialogue between one customer and one organisation. This is what we call Power of One. The right solution can better customer experience, increase sales, reduce escalation costs, increase cost savings and improve company reputation.
Here’s how it’s done:
One conversation with the customer, even as they move from channel to channel
Building contextual intelligence into a digital customer service solution allows a business to hold one seamless conversation with a customer across all channels. Customers use the channel they feel is most appropriate at that moment and switch to another channel when it becomes more convenient.
That jump across channels must not erase all context the key is the ability to see what just happened on another channel.
One view of the customer, understanding all channels and all interactions
The ability to tailor service and have more profitable interactions means having all relevant information about a customer, including what they have been doing across multiple channels.
For example, if an airline could see that a traveller who had flown 120,000 miles with them this year had searched for international flights on his mobile app yesterday, it could make an intelligent decision about which agent should respond to his web-chat today and what offers they should make to this valuable customer. This is exactly what a holistic digital customer service solution should provide.
One customer care strategy, including personalised self-service and the human touch when required
Understanding the best ways to interact with customers on digital channels can provide great experiences most of the time. But for those instances where a human touch can make the difference, digital customer service needs to be able to feed into an intelligent voice routing system.
About the Author
Richard McCrossan is Strategic Business Director of Digital Channels at Genesys.